COVID-19 has disrupted life as we know it. Over the last several months, nearly every individual and business has been affected in one way or another. With nationwide stay-at-home orders in full effect, our daily routine as citizens has been dramatically altered. Several members of Congress have introduced the Gym Mitigation and Survival (GYMS) Act to help the struggling fitness industry.
Public health leaders advised closing restaurants, bars, and gyms in the first few months of COVID-19 to err on the side of caution. State and local officials consistently grouped gyms with bars & nightclubs as high-risk venues for infection. Gyms were some of the first businesses to close and the last to be re-opened during the pandemic.
John Carrico, a gym owner in Seattle, called the comparison with bars being high risk particularly unfair. “It’s almost laughable. I mean, it’s almost the exact opposite… People here are investing in their health. They’re coming in, they’re focusing on what they’re trying to do as far as their workout. They’re not socializing, they’re not sitting at a table and laughing and drinking.”
The Fitness Industry Is Pushing Back
Now the fitness industry is trying to push back against the misleading narrative that gyms have no place in a pandemic. To reassure wary customers, owners have put in place – and now advertise – a variety of coronavirus control measures. Since the pandemic began, many gyms have overhauled operations and now look very different. Locker rooms are often closed and group classes halted. Many gyms check everyone for symptoms upon arrival. They’ve spaced out equipment and begun intensive cleaning regimes. Some gyms have even gone as far as to install advanced air cleaning machines. They also have a big advantage over retail and entertainment venues with having a membership model. By using a membership model the facilities are able to easily contact those who may have been exposed to an outbreak.
Digital Signage For Gyms
Gyms and fitness studios can also use digital signage as a way to communicate with their members. With this customizable form of publicity, gyms could display essential announcements to their members. They can display their new hours of operation, updated protocols, and safety procedures easily.
The benefits of gyms are clear. Regular exercise improves sleep, eases symptoms of depression & anxiety. Exercise also helps keep your immunities high to fight off viruses like COVID-19. When the necessary precautions are taken gyms are a vital resource to our communities.
Not A Lot Of Choices
But with mandated gym closures there aren’t a lot of choices for alternative revenue sources to pivot to during the pandemic. Due to this, 1.4 million fitness professionals have lost their jobs (44% of the jobs in the industry). According to a survey in January from the Community Gyms Coalition, fewer than 50 percent of small gyms and fitness studios expect to survive without federal support.
One of the biggest issues is that the health industry continues to struggle with a significant loss of revenue. Many clubs were unable to qualify for assistance in the first CARES act due to their financial setup. Government programs like the Paycheck Protection Program have helped with a small percentage of the burden but it has not been enough. Gyms and fitness centers that we’re able to re-open have only 25-50% max capacity allowed while still having 100% of their expenses.
The Gym Mitigation and Survival (GYMS) Act
As of February 5th, 2021 U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick introduced the Gym Mitigation and Survival (GYMS) Act. This Act will provide much-needed assistance to gyms and fitness facilities that have struggled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The GYMS Act would provide $30 billion to the Small Business Administration to disburse grants to eligible fitness businesses. Recipients can use funds for expenses such as payroll, rent, mortgage obligations, utility payments, worker protection expenditures, and more.
We don’t want gyms to close down. We need community gyms and fitness studios to help keep tens of millions of Americans healthy! Let your member of Congress know that community gyms and fitness centers are essential and need relief from The Gym Mitigation and Survival Act now.
IHRSA GYMS Act Dashboard
The IHRSA GYMS Act Dashboard has updated information on the Gyms Act. On the dashboard, you’ll find updated information about the GYMS Act. They have links to their one-click letter-writing campaigns and up-to-the-minute information on the progress of their advocacy efforts. Be sure to check out the “How can I help?” widget for instructions on how to contact your Representatives to support the health and fitness industry.