BREAKING: CrossFit LLC Lobbies for Direct Federal Aid for Local Gyms

November 9, 2020 by
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CrossFit LLC announced this morning that it has joined the Community Gyms Coalition, a group representing more than 15,000 community gyms in the United States, to lobby for the passage of legislation aimed at providing aid to businesses in the health and fitness industry affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One current piece of legislation, “The Health and Fitness Recovery Act,” filed in early October, proposes to create a $30 billion fund for grants to gyms and fitness centers.

One big thing: Beyond a few personal interests of former CEO Greg Glassman, CrossFit affiliate owners have been without representation in Washington D.C. By banding together with thousands of community gyms and lobbying Congress for direct federal aid, CrossFit LLC, under new leadership, is stepping to the forefront and advocating for the affiliate community in a way that gym owners have needed for years, and especially so since sweeping gym closures were introduced in March 2020. 

One more big thing: It’s worth noting that under the previous leadership regime, CrossFit LLC was mostly unwilling to collaborate with other community gyms and their parent companies. By joining the Community Gyms Coalition, the new leadership team looks to reverse course and build alliances throughout the industry as a way to help affiliate owners in the United States and around the world. 

Why this matters: Recent data analysis released by Yelp illustrated that gyms and fitness facilities currently face higher closure rates than any other industry, including restaurants and bars.

  • According to a CrossFit press release, “As of August 31, Yelp data showed 6,024 closed fitness facilities, including 57 percent temporary closures and 43 percent permanent closures.” 
  • In addition, a recent analysis by the IHRSA found that potentially one-quarter of all fitness facilities, or 10,000 gyms, could close by the end of 2020 without federal aid.
  • Like restaurants, bars and nightclubs, gyms have not been able to make full use of other federal relief programs.
  • The Paycheck Protection Program, for example, addressed some of the health and fitness industry’s needs but was not enough.
  • For restaurants and bars, the House passed a $120 billion fund as part of the updated HEROES Act, addressing industry-specific needs. 

What they’re saying: CrossFit’s press release highlights several gym owners’ thoughts on the important role community gyms play in public health.

  • “Community gyms keep America healthy, but they are struggling to survive due to local closures and operating restrictions, which have been among the most stringent for any industry…Debt continues to climb, and cash reserves are long gone. Without direct support, thousands of gyms will close their doors, never to reopen, and tens of millions of Americans will face the long-term health consequences, as our current health crisis leads to a new surge in obesity, depression, and chronic disease,” said Jordan Holland, owner of Riot Athletics CrossFit in Seattle, WA.
  • “This is an important opportunity to join my colleagues in the fitness industry to bring our voices together to support small business owners across the country who need help…The relief we need will help restore our industry to continue to make sure people have access to our clubs at such an important time for our country,” said Andy Gundlach, owner of several Anytime Fitness and Basecamp Fitness locations across Wisconsin.
  • “The fitness industry plays a critical role in improving the physical and mental health of millions of Americans…We implore members of Congress to pass sector specific relief legislation to assist an industry that has been devastated by this pandemic,” said Adam Krell, OrangeTheory Fitness franchisee in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

CrossFit CEO, Eric Roza teased these developments in his affiliate town hall last week, saying that legislation would be announced soon to help gyms embattled by forced closures and COVID regulations. 

  • Direct lobbying by CrossFit LLC on behalf of gym owners fits very well with Roza’s “Affiliates First” theme for this year.  
  • Roza to affiliate owners: “We believe the era of lassez-faire and fending for yourself (and anyone is welcome to do that, by the way), but we want you to feel differently that we are leaning in heavily and we are investing a tremendous amount of time and millions of dollars a year…in creating a whole infrastructure to help you all succeed.” 

The big picture: The bipartisan Health and Fitness Recovery Act was filed on October 2 by U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). If passed, it will create a $30 billion fund to provide grants to affected businesses in the health and fitness industry. Grant amounts are capped at business losses of up to 10% of the previous year’s revenue, or $10 million, whichever is less. The Community Gyms Coalition has not endorsed the bill.

  • Eligible expenses the grants will cover include: payroll costs, rent or mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance expenses, including construction and reconfiguration to satisfy social distancing regulations and supplies for cleaning and PPE.

The bottom line: Community gyms have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Community Gyms Coalition seeks to save the industry from additional hardship. Additionally, CrossFit LLC has reversed course from its past practices by joining with other community gyms to lobby Congress.

Editor’s Note: The original version of this story contained an error and has been updated for accuracy.

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