The Gym Mitigation and Survival Act (GYMS Act) could bring some welcome relief to one of the industries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, providing as much as $30 billion in aid, according to a report by The Hill. Introduced by Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley and Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, the legislation would provide grants to cover a wide variety of expenses, including payroll costs, rent, utilities, mortgages, and worker protection.
Businesses are required to be fitness facilities with the purpose of providing instruction on physical exercise and offering space for the maintenance and development of physical fitness to be eligible for the grants. The funding would be awarded by the Small Business Administration (SBA) with the total amount received equaling 45 percent of the business' 2019 revenue, or $20 million. Businesses that earned 33 percent or less in the last quarter in comparison to 2019 will be eligible for supplementary grants. However, they would not equal more than 25 percent of the initial grant. The SBA will make businesses in marginalized and underrepresented communities a priority, along with gyms that are women-, veteran- or minority-owned.
The bill was endorsed by the Community Gyms Coalition, which is made up of 15,000 gyms struggling amid the pandemic. High-profile franchises such as CrossFit, SolidCore, Pure Barre, Orange Theory, and ClassPass are among the members. Gyms had been lobbying for relief similar to what was granted to another hard-hit sector in December, when a $15 billion grant program for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions was approved.
Since it was initiated in November, the Community Gyms Coalition has advocated for the $30 billion program. It has regularly scheduled virtual meetings with lawmakers in the House and Senate who represent areas of the country where gyms have struggled the most, specifically New Jersey, New York, Minnesota, California, Colorado, and Ohio.
In an interview with NBC News, Dale King, owner of a CrossFit gym in Portsmouth, Ohio, spoke about the struggles the industry faced.
"Gyms are the forgotten pieces. We talk about payroll protection programs and restaurants and everyone kind of understands that because everyone goes to restaurants and bars... I really kind of hate to ask for federal funding. But at this point, I'm looking at it more as an investment in our healthcare system in general," he said.
Gym owners have spoken of issues they have seen rising amongst their clients as the pandemic continues, in particular depression, drug overdoses, weight gain and ailing mental health.