SAN DIEGO, CA—March 27, 2020—American Council on Exercise, on behalf of its 90,000+ certified exercise professionals and health coaches, commends the U.S. Congress and state legislatures for the approval of legislative relief for small businesses and their employees, independent contractors and self-employed individuals who are either affected by the COVID-19 pandemic or are likely to be.

As passed today, the bill would provide the following critical benefits to assist small business operators, independent contractors and unemployed individuals through the COVID-19 crisis:

  • About $376 billion to provide favorable loan terms to small businesses, sole proprietors and independent contractors for retaining workers and maintaining payroll, making lease and utility payments, and meeting rent or mortgage obligations
  • Extends unemployment benefits to include self-employed individuals and independent contractors
  • Increases the weekly unemployment benefit by $600 for all recipients for up to four months
  • Increases the duration of unemployment eligibility by 13 weeks
  • Provides most U.S. residents with a direct cash rebate, on a sliding scale starting at $1200 per adult and an additional $500 rebate for each child
  • Provides a payroll tax credit for employers whose operations were fully or partially suspended due to COVID-19 related circumstances, or whose gross receipts declined by more than 50% when compared to the same quarter in the prior year
  • Allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of their Social Security tax obligation
  • Modifies the tax law to adjust accounting for losses, which will free up cash for small businesses

WHY: The health and fitness industry is composed primarily of small business owners, independent contractors and employees who are an important driver of the American economy. This isn’t just an economic investment in a targeted sector: these small businesses and the associated workforce are critical in keeping the economy healthy, both economically and physiologically. Without them, the public health initiatives addressing inactivity-related health impacts will be missing one of their most indispensable on-the-ground partners.

WHO: According to industry group International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), U.S. health clubs and studios are vital to the economy. They serve 74 million consumers, generate $32.3 billion in annual revenue, and employ over 800,000 people. If expanded to include medical fitness facilities, the Medical Fitness Association (MFA) says that the industry employs more than 100,000 people who serve some 6 million members, most of whom are 45 or older.

  • In 2019 ACE exercise professionals and health coaches delivered an estimated 53 million coaching and training sessions and 5.5 million group exercise classes to support the health, fitness and sports performance needs of our communities.
  • Like many other health professionals, services delivered by exercise professionals require direct contact with consumers and the settings where their services are delivered are shuttered in over 2/3 of states
  • Fitness facilities and studios cannot collect or realize revenue for membership dues, programs or services until they are delivered to consumers
  • With a national median pay of $19.15 per hour (just under $40,000 per year), most exercise professionals do not have the financial reserves to weather a prolonged closure of their place of business.
  • According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, 275,000 people identify as exercise pros and health coaches

“Many of those employed in the fitness sector are exercise professionals and health coaches who are certified by ACE, hardworking people whose livelihoods are being severely disrupted as public health authorities urge or require their businesses or employers to shutter and Americans to shelter in place,” said Graham Melstrand, ACE’s Executive Vice President, Engagement. “These individuals are as essential to local economies as other types of workers and it was essential to include them in this well-intentioned deployment of needed relief solutions. In addition to the purely economic benefit these folks bring to the nation’s economy, the value of their services will be of utmost importance to our communities, which are undeniably facing highly stressed, disrupted lives and the associated health impacts.”

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About ACE Fitness

The American Council on Exercise is a nonprofit organization with global reach that works to improve physical-activity levels by certifying exercise professionals and health coaches, publishing original research, convening experts on physical activity health, working directly with community groups, and advocating for policies to get people from all walks of life moving. The 90,000 exercise professionals and health coaches certified by ACE are among the most respected in the world of fitness, helping people embrace physical activity and adopt healthier lifestyles. For more information, call 800-825-3636 or visit AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE, ACE and ACE logos are Registered Trademarks of the American Council on Exercise.