GYMS Act to Provide $30 Billion Recovery Fund for the Fitness Industry Introduced in Congress

Two representatives in the U.S. House have introduced the Gym Mitigation and Survival Act (GYMS Act), which would provide relief to the fitness industry, according to an announcement from the Community Gyms Coalition and the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).

Congressmen Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the bill (H.R. 890) on Feb. 5.

If passed, the GYMS Act would create a $30 billion recovery fund in the form of Small Business Administration (SBA) grants that would be available to fitness business owners similar to other previous relief programs. The funds could be used for payroll, rent, mortgage, utilities, insurance and other expenses fitness facilities normally incur. The money could not be used “to purchase real estate; for payments of interest or principal on loans originated after Feb. 15, 2020; to invest or re-lend funds, for contributions or expenditures to, or on behalf of, any political party, party committee, or candidate for elective office,” according to a summary of the bill by IHRSA.

Passage of the GYMS Act would allow fitness facility operators to recoup as much as 45 percent of 2019 revenue or $20 million, whichever is less. That money could replace revenue lost in 2020 due to COVID-19. The GYMS Act allows operators of especially distressed fitness facilities (those with revenues of 33 percent or less in the most recent quarter as compared to 2019) to apply for a supplemental grant of up to 25 percent of their initial grant in addition to the initial grant.

“Congress must act quickly to save tens of thousands of community gyms and fitness studios that have been struggling to keep the doors open for almost a year now,” Debra Strougo, co-founder of RowHouse, New York, said in a media release. “The GYMS Act provides owners like myself with meaningful and specific relief that previous federal relief programs failed to address. Passing the GYMS Act will save thousands of small businesses from going bankrupt and help ensure the fitness industry survives the pandemic to continue making our communities healthier. If we want to keep Americans healthy and keep our economy moving, we need targeted relief now.”

Community gyms and fitness studios have been among the industries hardest-hit by COVID-19, according to Yelp. Almost two thirds of local gym owners believe that existing government programs have failed gyms and fitness studios because they did not meet their cost structures, according to a survey of 300 locally-owned, independent U.S. gyms and fitness studios conducted by the Community Gyms Coalition. The survey also found on average, gym owners say they have more than a one in three chance of bankruptcy or closure before the end of 2021 without this type of government support.

“Small gyms and fitness studios around every corner of the country have been struggling to stay open,” said Justin Marcis of Windy City Strength & Conditioning in Chicago. “The GYMS Act gives tens of thousands of small business owners like me hope that we will make it through this pandemic so we can continue to keep our communities healthy.”

Since mid-March, the fitness industry has lost about 1.4 million jobs, according to IHRSA.

“It is critical we provide relief to this industry not only to bring back jobs but to help with peoples’ health,” Rep. Quigley said in the release. “We’ve seen this pandemic attack people with pre-existing 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 said: “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.”

The Community Gyms Coalition is a group of 15,000 gyms that are lobbying Congress to provide direct relief to gyms affected by the pandemic. Included in the coalition are CrossFit, Club Pilates, Anytime Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness, Row House, Retro Fitness, Zumba and other fitness brands as well as vendors such as ClassPass, ClubReady and Mindbody.

IHRSA is a trade association for commercial club operators.

To help pass the bill, IHRSA is offering resources on its website.