Why Students and School Owners Should Support the GYMS Act

Martial Arts Class

The Covid-19 pandemic brought challenges to the martial arts industry that have never been seen before.

In my latest series of articles "Martial Arts After the Pandemic," I examined how school owners and organizations had to adapt to the new environment. Even though some school owners managed to find new ways to keep their businesses running, and keep students engaged, many took heavy losses.

While most school owners are clawing their way back from the economic abyss brought on by Covid-19, it will be years, if ever, that they can find a way to pay off the debt and unforeseen expenses brought on by the required shutdowns.

Recently, a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress to help bring back the health and fitness industry, including martial arts schools. The Gym Mitigation and Survival Act or GYMS Act would provide welcome support in the form of a 30 billion dollar grant program to those that had to hang tough during the pandemic.

Q and A About the GYMS Act

Helen Durkin


To find out how this bill can help the martial arts industry, I asked Helen Durkin, Executive VP for Public Policy of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, (IHRSA) to break it all down.

What is the IHRSA?

IHRSA is a trade association representing the global fitness industry.

Will the GYMS Act help martial arts school owners that have been struggling during the pandemic?

The broad definition of eligible entities means that martial arts studios would be eligible for the grants created by the GYMS Act. The Act defines an eligible facility as "instruction in a program of physical exercise and which offers space for maintenance and development of physical fitness" There are some exclusions but, I don't see that they would apply to martial arts school owners. So yes, if it passes, martial arts studios should be eligible to apply for the grants. *(see definition of eligible entities at end of article)

Where is the bill in terms of the legislative process now?

You and your readers can look at the online dashboard at any time and to see how the bill is progressing. Just look at ihrsa.org/dashboard.

Here's where things stand right now. Currently, there are 129 sponsors in the House. Our target is to get 150 sponsors in the House to send a loud and clear message to House leadership that Congress supports helping out physical activity centers. We have excellent momentum and believe we will reach that target. (With the martial arts industry's help.)

In the Senate, several Senators have expressed support for the bill. We are working with the bills original sponsors to get both sponsors from both sides of the aisle. There is progress and momentum on the Senate side, it's just not reflected in the bill count yet.

What can a typical school owner expect to receive from the bill?

Here's a summary of the bill.

The Grant would cover

  • Initial grants are the lesser of 45 percent of 2019 revenue or $20 million.
  • Eligible entities with revenue of 33 percent or less in the latest quarter compared to the corresponding quarter in 2019 are eligible for a supplemental grant. The supplemental grant may not exceed 25 percent of the initial grant.
  • The aggregate amount of grants to an eligible entity and any affiliated businesses may not exceed $25 million.
Allowable Expenses:

An eligible entity may use grant funds: for payroll costs, rent, utilities, mortgage interest, interest on debt accrued before February 15, 2020, worker protection expenditures, payments of principal on outstanding loans, payments made to independent contractors (1099-MISC), settling existing debts owed to vendors, maintenance expenses, administrative costs, taxes, operating leases, advertising, fitness equipment, subscription, and software expenses that are within the scope of normal business practice, payments required for insurance on any insurance policy, costs required under any State, local, or Federal law or guideline related to social distancing, and any other expenses that the Administrator deems necessary.

Will the funds be administered similarly to the Payment Protection Program (PPP)?

We revised the administration to align with what was outlined in the Save Our Stages bill that was passed December 2020. The Small Business Administration will make the grants. None of the conditions of the PPP would apply to this grant.

What can students and school owners do to help move this bill along and be enacted?

It's really easy. Use this 1-click campaign and students, school owners and employees can ask their members of the House and Senate to sponsor the GYMS Act. It is great for your elected officials to hear that you too need help.

Is there anything else our readers should know about the GYMS Act?

Go to TheGYMSAct.com to learn all the ways you can support the GYMS Act. If you want to do more than just the one click campaign you can call or reach out to your member of Congress. Help get to 150 sponsors in the House and build the list in the Senate. We have all the materials you need to do that on TheGYMSAct.com. You can see talking points on the bill and more. There is also a link to contact us if you want to do more.

The time to act is now. Let's all do our part and bring back a thriving martial arts industry.

*GYMS ACT Eligible Entities

Eligible entities include fitness facilities providing instruction in a program of physical exercise and which offer space for the maintenance and development of physical fitness.

The following are not eligible entities:

  • Facilities for golf, hunting, sailing, or riding;
  • Facilities which are part of a State or local government entity;
  • Facilities for which the health and fitness components are incidental.

Eligible entities with equity or right to profit distributions of not less than 50 percent, and which have the contractual authority to control any business, are considered to be affiliated with that business.

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