BOSTON, MA—June 15, 2020—America’s health and fitness clubs, which were flourishing before the shutdown, were one of the first businesses mandated to close.
With near-total closures, no real opportunities to earn revenues since mid-March, and severely restricted operations for the foreseeable future, the hard-hit fitness industry requires federal relief.
As the voice for the health club industry in Washington D.C., IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, has continuously been sounding the alarm on the dire consequences the industry is facing since the early days of the pandemic, even before Congress took up what became the CARES Act (“Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security” Act).
IHRSA asks Congress for federal relief for the fitness industry so that fitness clubs and gyms across the country may continue to provide vital services (safe, secure, proven places to achieve their health and fitness goals) for their communities.
When the CARES Act passed in March, it provided possible assistance to many clubs through the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, the program failed to include all fitness industry segments and did not help even eligible club operators who could not take advantage of loans while their businesses remained closed.
Upon realization that the CARES Act did not grant the industry the relief needed, IHRSA and industry leaders began a fundraising campaign to increase the industry’s presence and voice in Washington D.C.
When asked why he supported IHRSA’s increased lobbying efforts, Kevin Johnson, CEO and owner of Team85 Fitness & Wellness in Bordentown, NJ, said, “We need to make sure that the economy of the health and wellness industry can rebound. We need the support of our government to protect our employees, and the actions put in place thus far are not enough.” He added, “Without Congressional support, one of the most important industries in this world will wither away to nothing.”
Now that Congress is again looking at what they can and should do to save the U.S. economy, IHRSA is proposing three categories of assistance from Congress: relief, protection, and stimulus.
Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s executive vice president of public policy, says, “We are implementing a comprehensive approach to save health and fitness businesses in America. This approach is broad enough to cover all possible opportunities, while also specific enough to get immediate relief, protection as we reopen, and stimulus to propel the industry—and the health of the country—forward.”
IHRSA’s three asks of Congress are to provide the industry:
- Immediate financial relief to keep clubs from closing.
- Protection from future pandemics, lawsuits, and government closures.
- A stimulus to revitalize the industry and America’s health, such as passing the PHIT Act (H.R.1679/S.680), which would allow pre-tax savings accounts (HSAs and FSAs) to pay for fitness, sports leagues, and healthy living.
The IHRSA team and the association’s Washington D.C., lobbyists are doing all they can to achieve the above goals. But, lobbying alone isn’t always enough. Health club operators and their staff, as tax-paying, voting constituents, contribute a critical voice. If every fitness industry employee wrote letters to their Senators and Members of Congress, our industry’s voice and position would be more powerful.
This online campaign provides a fast, easy way for everyone in the country to tell their members of Congress how important their business is to their communities, and ask for immediate and lasting relief!
Share the link to the campaign with other fitness professionals to help save the industry!
To learn more or financially support IHRSA’s advocacy efforts in Washington D.C., and/or in all 50 states, please contact Meredith Poppler, firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-316-6750.
The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA and its members are dedicated to making the world healthier through regular exercise and activity promotion.
As the sole association representing the U.S. fitness industry, IHRSA protects clubs from legislative and regulatory burdens, promotes the industry's contributions to the health of the nation, and actively supports policies to grow the exercising population.