WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The economic impact of COVID-19 has been undeniable across the board, and while local and federal representatives have worked to provide relief, one industry, in particular, is still seeking help: the health and fitness industry.
Second Wind Community Fitness owner, Grant Barker, said, “To prevent the collapse of the entire fitness industry in America, we need relief.”
Numbers show that the industry has greatly suffered. Pre-pandemic, there were 40,000 fitness clubs in the United States, but now about 17 percent, or 6,800, have closed.
Kaitlynn Fernandez, IHRSA Advocacy Content Manager, said, “1.4 million people, that’s 44 percent of industry jobs that have been lost because they are not getting relief.”
A new bill in Congress is a potential for relief.
Barker said, “Thankfully, we were able to get a bill introduced that provides swift, targeted relief, specifically for community fitness facilities just like my gym.”
“Gym Mitigation and Survival Act, and that was introduced by both a Democrat and Republican, and that’s a pretty big deal,” explained Fernandez.
The bill would provide the money needed to keep gyms and fitness clubs above water while owners work to bring membership back up.
Chris Craytor, CEO of ACAC Fitness and Wellness Centers, said, “Everyone is trying to get back to normal which we totally understand, it’s just that as an industry, we are far from it at this point.”
“Everyone agrees that physical activity is really important and health organizations have been saying since the beginning that you need to be physically active,” explained Fernandez. Even with the importance of exercise stressed, the industry still felt slighted.
Barker explained, “Government has provided really great relief for bars and restaurants. They’ve changed coding laws for outdoor seating, provided money for heaters so people can eat outside, but gyms have been left out of the equation.”
The hope is that as the Gyms Act is discussed and supported, gyms will make a comeback.
Barker said, “What we really need is for people to speak on our behalf. Going to gymscoalition.org, they have a form that makes it really easy to email your representatives in congress.”
Craytor added, “Anybody who supports our industry, we certainly encourage you to write to your representatives, both in the House and the Senate letting them know you support our industry.”