A new bipartisan bill has just been proposed to the House that could help struggling gyms and fitness centers in America recover financial losses from 2019 and 2020 that occurred as a result of the pandemic. The bill, touted the GYMS Act, is the Gym Mitigation and Survival Act introduced by Democrat Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) and Republican Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and will assist struggling gyms, fitness centers, and studios, that have lost money since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
— Community Gyms Coalition (@GymsCoalition) February 5, 2021
The legislation has been endorsed by the Community Gyms Coalition, a coalition founded in November 2020 as a result of the pandemic. The Coalition includes the largest fitness studios in America, including CrossFit, SolidCore, Pure Barre, Orange Theory, and ClassPass. Zumba and Anytime Fitness are also coming on board.
To be eligible, the business known as a fitness center or studio must offer instruction of fitness and/or exercise and offer space on-site for physical fitness and working out. The funding comes in the form of grants, and could be as high as 45 percent of the center’s 2019 revenue, or $20 million, and the loans are distributed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Financial losses have hit gyms hard all across the nation. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 5 Americans go to the gym or a fitness center. With lockdown protocols in place, health-conscious Americans are working out more at home. But this is hitting the multi-billion-dollar gym industry hard.
Gym Relief Through COVID-19
The federal government has passed trillions of dollars in budget relief measures for every aspect of life since the pandemic began, and gym relief is no different. Last year, in April 2020, a Paycheck Protection Program gave small businesses in America an additional $380 billion in relief.
Approximately one-third of that money went to corporate America, whereas $45 million was provided to independent contractors such as personal trainers. Of that $45 million, approximately 157 loans were made.
This funding was allocated to small business in general, while the new funding in the GYMS Act focuses on relief to fitness centers and studios specifically.
Another $900 billion relief bill passed in December 2020. Venus such as movie theaters and culture centers received $15 billion. Some fitness centers did receive relief in the form of the PPP loans but have not gotten direct relief.
The PPP relief has just not been enough. Fitness centers typically have exorbitant overhead in rent and other fixed expenditures alone. More of the PPP relief was allocated to payroll relief, up to 75 percent. Only 25 percent was allocated for these fixed costs.
A key problem since the pandemic began was gym attendance, for trainers and consumers alike. With attendance low, even after lockdown protocols are lifted, payroll relief was not as needed as rent relief for many centers across the nation. The result was that many have closed their doors for good since the pandemic began.
Why Gyms Need COVID-19 Relief
Gyms are an integral component to overall health, and not all gym-goers in America will maintain wellness with home-workouts if their gym closes. Many are more likely to simply wait out the pandemic, or the vaccine rollout, and resume their fitness levels after it feels comfortable enough to go to the gym again in an era of a contagious virus.
The CDC estimates that obesity in the 30-4o age gap rang in at 40.3 percent in 2017. The Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences researched the link between health and obesity, citing obesity as a “risk factor” for metabolic disorder. This could result in serious health burdens for both the individual and an already burdened health care system.
Obesity is also linked to poor mental health and joint pain.
The CDC is on the side of the gyms staying open. If they were to take a formal position, it would be to keep them open, as they are essential for health and wellness.
The International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) notes there are approximately 41,370 gyms in America that are a third home to 64.2 million Americans. The gym industry in 2019 was a $100 billion dollar industry.
What the GYMS Act Will Cover
If passed, the GYMS Act will provide funds for payroll, rent or mortgages, utilities, and worker protection costs in addition to other elements. Fitness centers will be able to get as much as 45 percent of their 2019 revenue back.
Centers or gyms that made 33 percent or less in their last quarter can seek more funding.
Of the bill, Rep. Quigley (D-IL) noted the hardships on American jobs in the fitness industry, since the pandemic began. He also focuses on Americans with pre-existing conditions that can be helped with fitness but are being attacked by the virus.
In a joint press release on the proposed law, Rep. Quigley noted,
“The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the fitness industry. Since mid-March about 1.4 million jobs have been lost. It is critical we provide relief to this industry not only to bring back jobs but to help with peoples’ health. We’ve seen this pandemic attack people with preexisting conditions, making people eager to get to the gym to maintain and improve their health. We must ensure gyms have the resources they need to make it to the other side of this crisis and protect their customers in the interim.”
Rep. Fitzpatrick (R-PA) echoed his thoughts in the same joint release,
“The COVID-19 pandemic has crippled the fitness industry across our nation. Unlike many other businesses financially impacted by the pandemic, health and fitness clubs did not have the capability to pivot to new revenue streams, and many even failed to qualify for assistance in the first CARES Act. Beyond providing assistance to business owners and workers, it is imperative we allow people the opportunity to maintain and improve their health as the pandemic continues on.
If passed, my bipartisan GYMS Act will create a $30 billion recovery fund, providing grants to affected businesses in the health and fitness industry and the resources they need to survive this crisis. There is no question that the hardworking men and women of this industry deserve our help.”