U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) unveiled bipartisan legislation to establish a $30 billion federal recovery fund that would help gyms and fitness clubs devastated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“The men and women who work in the fitness industry need and deserve our help,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick, who on Oct. 1 sponsored the Health and Fitness Recovery Act of 2020, H.R. 8485, with cosponsor U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL).
Grants authorized under the bill would be capped at an actual business loss up to 10 percent of the previous year’s revenue or $10 million, whichever is less. Grant funds could be used to help recipients with payroll costs, mortgage principal or interest payments, rent payments, utilities, maintenance, supplies, and other debt obligations to suppliers, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Fitzpatrick’s office.
“Few industries have been as devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic as the fitness industry,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “From the very beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, state and local governments moved quickly to shut down health and fitness businesses, in order to enforce social distancing safety measures.
“Unlike many other businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added, “health and fitness clubs could not pivot to new revenue streams and many in the industry failed to qualify for assistance in the first CARES Act.”
Brent Darden, interim president and CEO of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), endorsed H.R. 8485 and said that “without immediate assistance, hundreds of thousands of jobs in the fitness industry could be lost.”
The economic impact of COVID-19 on gyms and health clubs reached $13.9 billion in lost revenue through Sept. 1, 2020, with closures up 23 percent since July, according to IHRSA, which estimates that 25 percent of clubs will close by the end of 2020.