ICYMI: Gym Owners Take On New Role as Washington Lobbyists

In case you missed it, the Wall Street Journal highlighted several Community Gyms Coalition members in a new piece about efforts to pass the GYMS Act and relieve gym owners who have been struggling to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bipartisan GYMS Act would provide owners with direct support, help gyms and fitness facilities avoid bankruptcy, and preserve America’s health and fitness infrastructure. Currently, the GYMS Act has over 75 co-sponsors. Data shows that existing federal relief programs have failed to help small gyms and fitness studios, with nearly two thirds of owners saying existing programs have not been useful.

Gym Owners Take On New Role as Washington
Wall Street Journal
April 5, 2021


Brooklyn fitness-studio owner Katie Muehlenkamp’s duties expanded during the pandemic to include tech support for her online classes, scouting for outdoor workout locations and extra scrub-downs of ballet barres and yoga mats.

There was also a new job she didn’t expect to have, and where success has been elusive—that of a de facto lobbyist.

Gyms and exercise facilities have been walloped by long closures, capacity limits and added costs to operate remotely and safely even as the U.S. slowly resumes pre-pandemic life.

The federal Paycheck Protection Program provided aid for small business, but largely to cover salaries. Gym owners say most of their expenses are for facility leases and insurance.

Gyms also didn’t receive special funding streams like ones Congress allocated to restaurants and entertainment venues, which face similar issues.

Ms. Muehlenkamp and other gym owners are now waging what they see as a make-or-break campaign while there is still some momentum in Congress for helping small-business owners. About 75 Republicans and Democrats have co-sponsored House legislation to provide up to $30 billion in aid to the struggling industry.

Read the full article here.