Fitness Industry Aid Not Included in $1.5 Trillion Spending Bill
On March 10, the U.S. Senate passed a $1.5 trillion spending bill — and aid for the fitness industry, which IHRSA and others had been lobbying for, was not included despite bipartisan support.
Industry aid was first proposed as part of the GYM Mitigation and Survival (GYMS) Act, which was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives on February 5, 2021, by Reps. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).
From there, industry lobbyists pushed for industry relief to be included in specific provisions within the omnibus spending bill to fund the government.
In a statement on LinkedIn, IHRSA CEO Liz Clark expressed disappointment that relief for the fitness industry was not included.
“Despite broad bipartisan and bicameral support, Congress has once again left our industry, which has been disproportionately affected by government mandates, without federal relief,” wrote Clark. “The small business owners and millions of employees we represent have faced devastating losses since the beginning of the pandemic and allowing them to continue to drown is dereliction of duty by our elected officials. As a result, they’ve continued to put the health of Americans on the back burner, and perpetuated the devastating economic impacts of this pandemic on local studio or gym owners.
“Nevertheless, our industry has a lot to be proud of. We stood together in an unprecedented way, and despite Congressional inaction suggesting otherwise, we know the essential role we play in communities all across the country. And we’ll continue to prove them wrong in the weeks, months and years to come.”
The $1.5 trillion spending bill includes a wide number of provisions, such as:
- $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine
- $4 billion for rural development programs
- A 2.7% military pay raise
- $575 million to renew the Violence Against Women Act
- And much more
The bill will now move to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
UPDATE: According to Gale Landers, the founder and CEO of Fitness Formula Clubs and interim chairperson of the NHFA Advisory Council, although the GYMS ACT is effectively off the table, industry advocacy should remain of key importance moving forward.
“Rarely do any specific industry financial aid bills pass alone, which is what the GYMS Act is,” said Landers. “Usually these types of bills are part of a broader group of requests, tacked on to larger legislation. We are proud that the GYMS Act garnered strong support with nearly 200 Congressional, bi-partisan sponsors, and made it out of the Senate Small Business Committee in support of fitness industry relief. Unfortunately, along with financial relief requests from other designated industries, it was not included in the omnibus bill, despite a full 25% of the entire fitness industry permanently closed as of December 31, 2021, and many more hanging on by a thread. At the end of the day, the omnibus package included $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine, and COVID relief of any kind was excluded, which was beyond our control. Advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint; we are even prouder of the strong groundwork laid to build the fitness industry into a true advocacy powerhouse.”