Bipartisan Senate bill introduced to give gyms $30B in relief
Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced legislation Thursday to provide $30 billion in aid to the gym industry, which has been struggling throughout the coronavirus pandemic due to lockdowns and a lack of clients.
The bill is companion legislation to a House one introduced by Reps. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) in February, which now has 92 Democratic co-sponsors and 20 Republican co-sponsors.
“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,” Duckworth said in a statement.
The Community Gyms Coalition, which represents 15,000 gyms struggling through the pandemic, has endorsed the House and Senate legislation. The coalition includes big-name fitness studios such as CrossFit, SolidCore, Pure Barre, Orange Theory and ClassPass.
The Global Health and Fitness Association has also endorsed the legislation.
The Gym Mitigation and Survival Act would award grants to gyms and fitness studios that can be used to cover payroll costs, rent, utilities, mortgages and worker protection expenses such as personal protective equipment, among other costs.
Eligible businesses must be fitness facilities that provide instruction of physical exercise and that offer space for the maintenance and development of physical fitness. Grants could be up to 45 percent of the business’s 2019 revenue, or $20 million, and would be made by the Small Business Administration.
States are slowly reopening gyms to full capacity as vaccination rates increase.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced gyms and fitness centers could expand to 50 percent capacity on May 15 and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser plans to lift all capacity restrictions on gyms on May 21.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends wearing a mask, even for vaccinated people, when working out inside a gym. For outdoor exercise activities such as running or biking, the CDC says people don’t have to wear a mask if they’re in small groups.
Gyms have been lobbying for targeted relief for months, and the coalition was launched in November in response to the pandemic. The restaurant industry and live venue industry received funding for targeted relief aid in the American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law in March.