VIRGINIA BEACH, VA / ACCESSWIRE / April 25, 2020 / Gyms are places where people get together to work out. They're in close contact with each other as they work on lifts, body weight exercises, running and other calisthenics. So naturally, they've been among the hardest-hit businesses during the current global pandemic.
Gyms aren't considered "essential businesses" and like other areas of easy community transmission, like coffee shops, bars, and schools, they've been closed down throughout most of North America. And most of these gyms aren't owned by big fitness conglomerates. They're small businesses owned by regular people.
Small businesses tend to be hit hard in economic downturns. The last recession saw disproportionate job losses in small businesses as opposed to larger ones, and businesses under 10 employees and young businesses were even worse hit. Small local gyms often fall under these categories.
Four in five small businesses are currently affected by the pandemic, and over half are dealing with slower sales. Small gyms can't handle a major disruption of business easily, especially if they don't have a lot of cash reserves.
Thankfully, that's where Born Primitive has come into focus.
Supporting Local Gyms
Born Primitive isn't the only brand involved in the effort to help gyms around the country. Bear Handlon, co-founder and CEO of Born Primitive, says they were excited to see other brands in their space also stepping up to help out.
"We teamed up with O2 Natural Recovery Drink and we both pledged to donate 50 percent of our profits back to participating gyms. Our brand was born in the fitness and CrossFit space, so we felt obligated to do our part and give back to these local gym owners. They are the foundation of the entire community and they are the reason our brand is able to exist."
Born Primitive's campaign, which they called their "Back the Gyms" stimulus, paid off in a big way. At the conclusion of their ten-day stimulus, they were able to donate $186,000 in total to local gyms all across North America. And this isn't their first instance of giving back. In the past four years, Born Primitive has now given back over $500,000, mostly to military, first responders, and cancer research charities they regularly support. Not too bad for a company of just 14 employees.
"We are really proud to be able to use our brand as a platform to give back in such a meaningful way. From day one as a company, we have said that we have to give back, and the current crisis presented a unique opportunity for us to do just that," Handlon said.
The campaign was open to any gym in North America. They simply needed to contact Born Primitive to obtain their own unique promo code for the site, which was good for ten days. Gym owners were then encouraged to promote this code to their members, whose purchases would directly contribute to the total donation amount.
Building a Stronger Fitness Community
Handlon sees this as an opportunity for the fitness community, and in particular, the CrossFit community, to pull together and support each other. Born Primitive isn't the only brand to get involved.
"It's been so cool to see other brands stepping up and doing their part as well," says Handlon. "It's a reminder that we're all part of something bigger than ourselves. Times of adversity have a tendency to bring out the best in us, and the response our society has had to this crisis is no exception. We are stronger together."
The fitness industry has been hit particularly hard because of how early gyms and health clubs had to close. The IHRSA, an industry advocacy group, tried to get gyms included in the stimulus package from Congress in the United States, but money has been running out fast. Community-led efforts like Born Primitive's may be the best way to finance gyms that have been hammered by the world's current pandemic.
Over 2,000 gyms signed up for the program with Born Primitive alone, and many more have signed up with other programs to try and receive some assistance. The industry is rallying around the small businesses that are the beating heart of the fitness community.
Small, But Mighty
Born Primitive isn't a household name (yet) like Nike, Reebok or Adidas. But one of the biggest things this pandemic is showing is that even smaller brands have something to contribute to their industries.
"We don't have budgets like the Nike's and Reebok's of the world," says Handlon. "But we have built a very loyal following and we are very tight within the CrossFit and fitness space. The response we received when we launched this campaign just blew us away. People jumped at the opportunity to support their local gyms and the results speak for themselves."
The money Born Primitive raised through their "Back the Gyms" Stimulus goes directly to the local gyms who participated in the campaign, many of which find themselves in a serious crisis as members continue to cancel their memberships.
Though they've had to stay closed for a long time already, the local gyms and CrossFit boxes that makeup so much of the fitness industry should be able to hold out longer directly because of the efforts of companies like Born Primitive and others that have thrown themselves into making their industry better.
"It's tough not being able to go to the gym," says Handlon. "But there are plenty of people out there dealing with worse. All we can do is make sure that when this ends we actually have gyms to go back to."
If Born Primitive has its way, they will.
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