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 News | Jobs | Sign up for our free e-zine 13 June 2021 
28 May 2021
US GYMs Act would provide sector with US$30bn in grants
By Tom Walker
US GYMs Act would provide sector with US$30bn in grants
The GYMs Act would provide fitness businesses grants of up to US$25m
Photo: Shutterstock/CrispyPork
The US fitness industry is mobilising to support the Gym Mitigation and Survival (GYMs) Act, which could provide up to US$30bn in grants to health clubs and studios at risk of closing their doors permanently.

The GYMs Act was tabled on May 13 by senators Tammy Duckworth (Democrat, Illinois) and Jerry Moran (Republican, Kansas) in the US Senate.

If passed, the GYMs Act would enable fitness businesses hit by the pandemic claim grants of up to US$25m.

It is the second time that US lawmakers have looked to pass legislation that would provide financial help to the hard-hit US health and fitness industry.

In October 2020, US congressmen Mike Quigley and Brian Fitzpatrick introduced the Health and Fitness Recovery Act of 2020 to help the fitness industry in the US shield itself from the 'devastating effects' of the pandemic.

It was hoped that the bill would be included in the nearly US$2tn COVID-19 relief package which was passed in February – but that did not happen.

Now, the industry is putting its hopes for the GYMs Act to succeed and help an industry which saw revenue fall by 58 per cent and lose a total of US$20.4bn during 2020.

If the bill is passed, it would establish a grant programme worth up to US$30bn managed by the Small Business Administration, a government agency that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The grants would be made available for all eligible fitness businesses – including facilities that either provide instruction for physical exercise and/or offer space for individual exercise use.

The fund would cap initial grant amounts at 45 per cent of the facility’s 2019 revenue – or US$20m, whichever is less.

Health and fitness businesses considered severely impacted – with revenues of only 33 per cent or less in the most recent quarter as compared to 2019 – would be eligible for a supplemental grant, of up to 25 per cent of their initial grant.

The most an eligible business and its affiliates could receive is US$25m.

Industry body, IHRSA, has set up a regularly-updated dashboard to follow the progress of the GYMs Act and to monitor support for it.

It shows that, at the time of writing (28 May), the bill has garnered the support of 123 supporters in the House of Representatives, while nearly 32,000 grassroots emails have been sent to congress to highlight the act. • To view the dashboard, click here.

Meanwhile, the Community Gyms Coalition, has set up a "contact your representative" service to make it easy for those working in the industry – as well as members of public – to contact their local members of Congress for support.

US Senator Tammy Duckworth, one of the two senators who tabled the bill, said: “Small businesses across the country have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and gyms are no exception – they’ve lost 1.4 million jobs along with tens of billions in revenue.

“It’s critical we support the fitness industry to help bring back jobs and provide Americans with opportunities to improve their fitness during this public health crisis.

"I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill that will help ensure gyms and fitness centers have the resources they need to get to the other side of this pandemic.”

Club and studio owners across the country are now mobilising support at grassroots level across the country.

Dave Hudson, owner of CrossFit Unconquered in Leavenworth, said: “Passing meaningful legislation to support gyms and fitness studios will be a huge step forward as we struggle to recover from the damage caused by COVID-19.

“Exercise is key to maintaining a strong immune system and staying healthy, and we are thankful that members of Congress are stepping up and taking action to ensure that Americans can continue exercising at their local gym.

"We’re especially thankful for Sen. Duckworth’s and Sen. Moran’s leadership.”

Katalin Rodriguez Ogren, owner of POW! Gym Chicago, said: "Tens of thousands of gym operators throughout the country have been fighting to stay open and serve our communities for more than a year now.

“It’s encouraging to see our leaders in Washington realise the important role that gyms and fitness facilities play in our nation’s health infrastructure.

"Congress needs to pass the GYMS Act to provide gym operators with the support they need; it’s the best way to ensure Americans can stay healthy as we continue to battle COVID-19.”

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