Fitness Industry Excluded from Spending Bill; IHRSA President Says Americans’ Health is on ‘back burner’
IHRSA and others have urged to #SaveOurGyms, but the $1.5 trillion omnibus package excludes assistance for struggling fitness facilities
Despite urgent pleas from the fitness industry, Congress has excluded the fitness industry from its spending bill, says the IHRSA.
The $1.5 trillion omnibus bill was just passed by Congress and includes programs for Ukraine aid, financial aid for college, defense spending, funding for infrastructure, but does not include relief for struggling fitness facilities.
President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law next week.
The non-for-profit trade association that represents health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, and sports clubs, has been dedicated to saving the fitness industry in the wake of the pandemic.
Last month, IHRSA released a grim report on the state of the fitness industry, revealing that as of January 1, 2022, 30 percent of studios have closed, an 11 percent increase from the previous year.
Liz Clark, President and CEO of IHRSA, posted a statement on her LinkedIn page about the spending bill that ignored the fitness industry.
“Despite broad bipartisan and bicameral support, Congress has once again left our industry, which has been disproportionately affected by government mandates, without federal relief. 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,” Clark wrote.
“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,” she continued.
“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. Onward! #fitnessindustry IHRSA,” Clark wrote.
The pleas for help have been requested all over the country. Local fitness studio owners in Texas came together to create the San Antonio Fitness Coalition, a group of fitness leaders, to advocate for federal funding for the fitness industry. The group of business owners, who normally would be competitors, worked together on cross-promotions and supported one another during the turbulent time.
The San Antonio Fitness Coalition includes owners from JoyRide Cycling + Fitness Texas, Smart Barre & Pilates, EnergyX Fitness, Sweat Equity, and Soul Fitness.
With the surge in Omicron cases, the fitness owners were crushed at the start of the new year, a time when people head back to the gym.
“Up until December 2021, we hoped that January 2022 would serve as a turning point for local gyms. This January, Omicron meant that people were not going back to the gym in the numbers we’d hoped for. I felt like we needed to stand up and say something as a small business community that has been marginalized by federal aid,” Becky Cerroni, JoyRide Cycling + Fitness Texas owner, told San Antonio Mag last month.
Despite the disappointment, Clark says the mission remains strong. “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 rest of the official statement from IHRSA can be read here.
Courtney Rehfeldt has worked in the broadcasting media industry since 2007 and has freelanced since 2012. Her work has been featured in Age of Awareness, Times Beacon Record, The New York Times, and she has an upcoming piece in Slate. She studied yoga & meditation under Beryl Bender Birch at The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. She enjoys hiking, being outdoors, and is an avid reader. Courtney has a BA in Media & Communications studies.