Two bills co-sponsored by Congressman Chris Smith are lifelines for the struggling health and fitness industry.
Smith signed onto the bipartisan Heath and Fitness Recovery Act of 2020, a bill introduced on October 1 that would establish a $30 billion recovery fund for gyms and health clubs. The bill’s sponsors, which also include New Jersey Congressmen Jeff Van Drew and Tom Malinowski, intend for the fund to become part of the next stimulus package and to provide relief to gyms before the end of this year.
The health and fitness industry employed 700,000 people in 2019. Many clubs are small businesses with an average of 7 employees.
Recipients of these grants—which are capped at an actual business loss up to 10 percent of previous year’s revenue—would be able to use the funds on payroll, rent or mortgage payment, personal protective equipment (PPE), or upgrades to their facility to comply with new requirements from their state or locality.
“The wellness and fitness industry has been especially hard hit by the global pandemic caused by COVID-19,” Smith said. “Gyms and fitness facilities were ordered to shut down completely in March when stay-at-home orders began, and have only recently been able to reopen in New Jersey upon meeting strict criteria regarding air circulation and ventilation, frequent sanitization of all surfaces and equipment, and temperature and health checks for staff and clients. If these health and fitness businesses are forced to permanently close, their workers lose their jobs and the clients they serve will find it more difficult to maintain their physical, as well as mental, health—something that’s so important to overall wellness. Both need to be paramount concerns as we continue to battle the ongoing public health emergency.”
Smith is also a sponsor of the bipartisan Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act which would allow health club dues and fees of up to $1000 on a single return and $2000 on a joint return to be tax deductible as medical care expenses. The cost of exercise equipment would also be deductible, up to the $1000/$2000 limit, under this bill.
Smith visited The Atlantic Club in Wall Township last month where he was given a tour of the facilities by CEO Kevin McHugh. McHugh highlighted how the Club as prepared for the health and well being of its members and difficulties the industry has encountered since the COVID shutdown in March.