By Patrick Craig, Special AFS Contributor
2020 was a challenging year for the fitness industry. In March the COVID pandemic descended on the U.S. with its Draconian mask mandates and over-reaching social distancing and shutdowns.
This was extremely hard on the industry, especially since one of the best ways to maintain a strong, healthy immune system, the key to fighting off any virus, is a regular program of exercise.
However, the governments of many states ignored that reality in the face of a virus that no one understood, and so they shut down gyms, restaurants, and churches. The fitness industry showed its resilience and creativity and responded by coming up with novel ways to keep people exercising: Zoom live-stream classes, outdoor fitness, more family sports and so on.
But still it seemed gyms might face a long dark winter and to get through it, were going to need real help. Many gyms failed to qualify for the first CARES act. Many could not pivot to new revenue streams. So since March 2020, we have seen thousands of gyms and fitness facilities close their doors. It seemed like nobody was listening as gym owners and personal trainers tried to make their voices heard.
But now someone has heard. And this could be significant news—if it passes. On February 5, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Gym Mitigation and Survival (GYMS) Act to give much-needed help to gyms, fitness studios, and facilities that have struggled with the pandemic for almost a year.
The GYMS Act would provide $30 Billion to the Small Business Administration to disburse grants to eligible businesses.
The GYMS Act would provide $30 Billion to the Small Business Administration to disburse grants to eligible businesses. Facilities would be required to certify economic need and recipients can use the funds for expenses such as payroll, rent and mortgage obligations, utility payments, worker protection and more.
Mike Quigley, the writer of the bill, seems to have his finger on the feeble pulse of a struggling industry. “We’ve seen this pandemic attack people, many people, who already had pre-existing conditions. This makes it imperative that people get to the gym to maintain and improve their health. We must ensure that gyms have the resources they need to make it through this crisis and protect their customers in the interim. My bipartisan plan will create a $30 billion recovery fund.”
The hardworking men and women of the industry need and deserve help and there is also no question gyms make people healthy and healthy bodies are the key to fighting off illness, be it COVID or anything else that comes down the road.
So, now is the time to contact your representative and ask them to get behind the GYMS Act. A lot of professionals and a lot of clients are depending on you to make your voice heard on their behalf. As we watch the rate of new cases taper off, new therapeutics arrive on the scene, and the public seemingly building “herd immunity,” this bill could be just what we are looking for to get the industry over the hump.
Patrick Craig has worked in the Marketing Industry for the past twenty years. He is a published author and has written extensively about the fitness industry, particularly the gym software aspect of it. He has been with Money Movers, Inc. for the last six years where he serves as the Marketing and Operations Manager, web designer and coder, and maintains the custom websites Money Movers, Inc. develops for their Online Business Manager gym software clients.