Following the initial worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, state governments in the U.S. began placing restrictions on public gatherings, enforcing social distancing, and mandating businesses to close, including most of the health and fitness industry. When it became clear that Congress would begin work on a relief package, we worked with our D.C. lobbyists to send a letter to Congress outlining the massive economic struggles of the industry and pleading for support.
However, the various programs created by the federal government to support businesses during these unprecedented times were either underfunded or ill-suited to the health and fitness industry. This did not deter health and fitness advocates across the country. The industry came together like it never has before and worked to contact each and every member of Congress to make them aware of the economic disaster facing the health and fitness industry.
By capitalizing on the hard work our industry demonstrated throughout 2020, the first health and fitness industry-specific relief bill was filed in the U.S. House of Representatives in the fall of 2020—the Health & Fitness Recovery Act (HFRA).
The HFRA struggled to gain footing in D.C. due to many federal officials focused on the upcoming election. We worked with Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)—our HFRA champions and sponsors—and a diverse group of stakeholder organizations from across the fitness industry to redraft, redesign, and rebrand the HFRA as the GYMS Act.