Companies like Lululemon and ClassPass are providing relief efforts to fitness trainers and studios who are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Faith Brar
Updated April 21, 2020

Hundreds of thousands of retail stores, gyms, and fitness studios have temporarily closed their doors to help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). While these social distancing measures are no doubt important, they've also led to some serious financial struggles for those who can't work until these businesses re-open. Fortunately, folks in the fitness industry are stepping up in a big way to help support those affected financially by the pandemic.

Businesses like Brooks Running, Outdoor Voices, and Athleta plan to continue compensating their retail workers while their stores remain closed. Fitness powerhouse Nike has pledged to donate $15 million to the coronavirus relief effort. Brands like New Balance and Under Armour are donating millions to non-profits like Feeding America, Good Sports, No Kid Hungry, and Global Giving. What's more, companies like Adidas, Athletic Propulsion Labs, Hoka One One, North Face, Skechers, Under Armour, Asics, and Vionic are all participating in an initiative called Sneakers For Heroes. Organized by Shape senior fashion editor Jenn Barthole, the project aims to collect donated sneakers from these brands and distribute them to healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. So far, over 400 pairs of shoes have been sent to medical professionals, with Asics and Vionic pledging to donate an additional 200 pairs each to the cause. Barthole says she hopes to coordinate 1,000 donations by the end of April.

Athletes are doing their part, too. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles donated memorabilia to raise money for the Athletes for COVID-19 Relief Fund, with all proceeds going to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy's coronavirus relief efforts. Pro runner Kate Grace is donating one-tenth of her income for the month of March to local food banks in her hometown of Portland, Oregon.

While larger companies and sponsored athletes may be equipped to contribute to the coronavirus relief effort and handle the financial loss that has comes with this pandemic, smaller fitness studios are barely staying afloat. Most are already struggling to afford rent, and many aren't able to pay their employees while they're shut down. As a result, some fitness instructors and personal trainers are facing their own financial fallout since, for many of them, their entire paycheck depends on class attendance and one-on-one sessions with clients. These individuals, who play such vital roles in the fitness industry, are now suddenly out of jobs. The worst part? No one knows for how long.

So, now the question is: How will the fitness industry survive the coronavirus pandemic?

To ensure that it does, here are a few companies that are not only going out of their way to support studios and fitness instructors during these uncertain times but also sharing ways for you to support these initiatives, too.


One of the world's leading fitness platforms, ClassPass is built on the backs of 30,000 studio partners located across 30 countries. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic,  nearly all of those facilities have temporarily closed their doors.

In the meantime, the company is bringing back video-streaming, allowing its fitness and wellness partners to offer live-streaming classes through the ClassPass app and website. All proceeds from this new feature will go directly to ClassPass studios and instructors who are no longer able to teach or host their classes in person. To book a class, subscribers can use their existing in-app credits, and non-ClassPass members can purchase credits within the app to use them toward classes of their choice.

The fitness company has also set up a Partner Relief Fund, meaning you can donate directly to your favorite trainers and studios. The best part? ClassPass will match all contributions up to $1 million.

Finally, the company has started a petition asking governments to offer immediate financial assistance—including rent, loan, and tax relief—to fitness and wellness providers across the globe. So far, the petition has signatures from the CEOs of Barry's Bootcamp, Rumble, Flywheel Sports, CycleBar and more.


Like many other fitness retailers, Lululemon has closed many of its locations around the world. But instead of asking its hourly workers to tough it out, the company has promised to pay them for their scheduled shifts at least through April 5, according to a press release from Lululemon's CEO, Calvin McDonald.

The company has also put together a relief pay plan that guarantees 14 days of salary protection for any employee fighting the coronavirus.

Furthermore, an Ambassador Relief Fund has been created for Lululemon ambassador studio owners who've felt the financial burden of locations closing down. The purpose of the $2 million global relief fund is to help these individuals with their basic operating costs and support them in getting back on their feet as they ride out the pandemic.

The Movemeant Foundation

The Movemeant Foundation has been committed to making fitness accessible and empowering for women since it first launched in 2014. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the non-profit is supporting fitness and wellness instructors through a COVID-19 Relief Grant. The organization will provide up to $1,000 to teachers and instructors who are looking for tools and resources to launch their own virtual fitness platforms. (Related: These Trainers and Studios Are Offering Free Online Workout Classes Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic)

Not only that but for an indefinite period of time, 100 percent of all donations to the Movemeant Foundation will go toward the company's COVID-19 relief efforts, further supporting members of the fitness industry during these difficult times.


Since 2015, SWEAT has been offering workout programs you can follow any time, anywhere, from expert trainers like Kayla Itsines, Kelsey Wells, Chontel Duncan, Stephanie Sanzo, and Sjana Elise.

Now, in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, SWEAT has partnered with the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to offer one month of free access to the app for new members.

Until April 7, new SWEAT members can sign up for a month of free access to 11 specialized, minimal-equipment workout programs catered to a variety of fitness levels and preferences, including high-intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, yoga, cardio, and more. The app also includes hundreds of nutritional recipes and meal plans, plus an online fitness community where you can ask questions and share milestones through more than 20,000 forum threads.

SWEAT has already committed a $100,000 donation to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which allocates resources to help protect health-care workers, distribute essential supplies wherever needed, and support the development of COVID-19 vaccines. New and existing SWEAT members are encouraged to donate to the fund through the app as well.

"On behalf of the SWEAT community, our heart goes out to everyone around the world that has been affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak," Itsines, creator of the Sweat BBG program, said in a press release. "As a token of our support to relief efforts, we would like to welcome women who are looking to stay active at home to join the SWEAT community, share your struggles and accomplishments with millions of like-minded women around the globe, and give back to the cause if you can."

Love Sweat Fitness

Love Sweat Fitness (LSF) is more than just a wellness platform with daily workouts and nutritious meal plans. It's a tight-knit community where hundreds of thousands of fitness fanatics can connect with, motivate, and support one another through their health journeys.

To help support those in need during the coronavirus pandemic, LSF is hosting "Stay Well Weekend," a 3-day virtual wellness festival that will raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts. Between Friday, April 24 and Sunday, April 26, wellness influencers like LSF creator Katie Dunlop, personal-trainer-turned-Love Is Blind-star Mark Cuevas, celebrity trainer Jeanette Jenkins, and more will hop on Zoom to host live workouts, cooking parties, inspirational panels, happy hours, dance parties, and much more. You can RSVP here for free, with an optional (encouraged) donation. All proceeds from the festival will go to Feeding America.

"A $1 donation provided 10 meals to families and children in need," Dunlop wrote in an Instagram post announcing the festival. "Our goal is to raise $15k (150,000 MEALS!!)."


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