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IHRSA Launches Legislative Effort to Save the American Fitness Industry

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is launching a new legislative effort to save the American fitness industry.

"No industry has been harder hit by the COVID-19 pandemic than the fitness industry," said Joe Moore, President/CEO of IHRSA. "Millions of jobs and tens of thousands of small businesses are at risk. Congress and the Administration must act immediately to see that relief measures that have been available to other industries for months are expanded to include the fitness industry."

In a letter to Congressional leaders, IHRSA laid out the economic devastation felt by the industry as a result of the pandemic. Roughly 1/3, or $10 billion, of health club industry revenue will leave for at-home fitness options, putting at risk the 3 million full- and part-time workers who are employed by the almost 40,000 clubs and studios in the U.S.

"Gyms and health clubs were among the first industries targeted for shutdowns as a result of the pandemic. Many clubs have been shuttered for months," continued Moore. "Unlike our friends in the restaurant industry, gyms and health clubs haven't been able to offer 'take-out' as a means to stay afloat during this difficult time."

Not only has the fitness industry been hit hard, it has also been unable to access funds available to other industries. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is administered by the SBA and authorized by Congress in the CARES Act, has been largely unavailable to the fitness industry as a result of language in the legislation that inexplicably treats health and fitness clubs differently than others in the service industry.

"As the Congress debates the future of the PPP, action should be immediately taken to give the fitness industry access to these funds, which is why IHRSA is launching this effort," said Moore.

Specifically, IHRSA is seeking three PPP fixes:

  1. 1. A waiver from the "affiliation rule" for health and fitness clubs, to allow those previously left out to participate in the PPP.
  2. 2. That funding prioritization be given to industries that can demonstrate revenue losses of 15% or more.
  3. 3. Businesses with demonstrated revenue losses over 20% should be eligible for a second round of funding under PPP.

IHRSA is mobilizing its member clubs across the country, urging them to contact their members of Congress and Senators and urge them to make these critical fixes to PPP. In addition to mobilizing tens of thousands of clubs and studios, IHRSA is also deploying its Government Affairs Team to make the case.

"As a result of the pandemic, IHRSA has built a talented team of lobbyists and government affairs experts to make the case for the fitness industry. We are mobilizing this team to work with our member clubs to urge Congress and the Administration that they must act immediately to save the fitness industry," concluded Moore.

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