Federal Legislation Providing Relief for the Fitness Industry
The GYMS Act—or Gym Mitigation and Survival Act—(H.R. 890/S. 1613) will establish a recovery fund to provide structured relief to health and fitness service establishments that have been uniquely hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On February 5, 2021, U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) filed the Gym Mitigation and Survival (GYMS) Act (H.R. 890) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacting health and fitness facilities around the country. Then, on May 13, 2021, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) filed the Senate version of the GYMS Act (S. 1613). Most of Congress's previous economic relief packages have either left out or not really helped the fitness industry.
If passed, the GYMS Act will create a $30 billion fund to provide grants to affected businesses in the health and fitness industry. The fund would cap initial grant amounts at 45% of the facility’s 2019 revenue—or $20 million, whichever is less. Health and fitness businesses considered severely impacted—with revenues of only 33% or less in the most recent quarter as compared to 2019—would be eligible for a supplemental grant, of up to 25% of their initial grant. The most an eligible business and its affiliates could receive is $25 million.
A few expenses the grant would cover include:
- payroll costs,
- rent or mortgage payments, including interest,
- interest on debt accrued before February 15, 2020,
- payments required for insurance on any insurance policy,
- costs required under any State, local, or Federal law or guideline related to social distancing,
- and more.
Learn more about the GYMS Act and stay up-to-date on how the efforts to pass the relief bill are going by visiting the IHRSA dashboard.
There Is No Curbside Pickup for Fitness
When state and local governments mandated business closures, health and fitness were the first to close but among the last to be allowed to reopen. While other industries could pivot to pandemic-friendly business models—such as curbside pickup—and received dedicated government relief, the health and fitness industry was left behind by these previous relief programs and shuttered with few to no options for alternative revenue.
5 Pieces of Data Showing the Devastating Impact of COVID-19 on the Health and Fitness Industry
- 1.4 million fitness professionals have lost their jobs (44% of jobs in the industry).
- $20.4 billion in lost revenue through December 2020, that's a 58% decline from 2019.
- 17% of clubs permanently closed as of December 2020.
- According to a January survey, fewer than 50 percent of small gyms and fitness studios expect to survive through 2021 without federal support.
- According to data released by Yelp, gyms and fitness facilities currently face higher closure rates than nearly any other industry, including restaurants and bars.
Previous government programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) have addressed some of the industry’s needs, though they have not been enough.
The health and fitness industry continues to face a significant loss of revenue—both in direct membership and ancillary costs like studio classes—and will do so for the foreseeable future. Clubs that have opened are opening at 25-50% capacity while still having 100% of their expenses.
Why The Fitness Industry Is Worth Saving
The health benefits of exercise are well documented. As our nation emerges from this pandemic, having access to the services health and fitness facilities provide will be more important than ever.
Not only is physical activity critical to our nation’s physical and mental health, but our facilities are deeply ingrained in our communities, serving as community centers, childcare providers, swimming teachers, and sports and health educators to millions. The closure of these clubs would devastate communities and leave many without access to any health, fitness and stress-relieving options at a time when they need them the most.
The GYMS Act will save the industry by providing the targeted relief it desperately needs. The act currently has bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, but we need more cosponsors.
Please ask your Congress member to cosponsor the GYMS Act and support its inclusion in any future COVID relief package today!