Gym owners worried as Unlock 1 bypasses them

A fitness centre in the city.  

It is over two months since gyms were shut on account of the lockdown. While relaxations have seen establishments reopen for business, gyms continue to remain closed. What is more is that ‘Unlock 1’ states that after assessing the situation, dates to ‘re-start’ these fitness centres would be decided. This has gym owners and fitness trainers worried.

“There is no clarity when the government will give the go-ahead to us for reopening. What adds to the uncertainty is that we don’t know how the response to resumption will be – it could be brisk and it could be worse than ever, meaning hardly any will do workout due to the coronavirus fear,” said fitness trainer Avinash Jithender, Muscle Garage Transformation.

Mr Jithender says that the lockdown has affected three types of people differently in the fitness business – gym owners, those employed in these gyms and freelance fitness trainers. “If there are no clients, gym owners cannot pay fitness instructors, who are the worst affected. And freelance fitness trainers have no one-to-one clients, leading to a 100% drop,” he says.

Those in the fitness business point out that depending on the size of the gym, the investment can vary from ₹20 lakh to ₹2 crore. The cost is contingent upon the location, quality and quantity of equipment. For instance, a multi-station can cost anything between ₹ 20,000 and ₹1 lakh.

One such gym owner who is worried is Shaik Javed who set up Pure Fitness gym in Bapuji Nagar five years ago. “I have not been able to pay rent for two months and now I am facing heat from the landlord. What is more problematic is that the house owner too is pressuring me to to pay rent. When there is no income from the gym, how can there be money to pay rent? Fitness business is the only thing people like me know,” he rues.

Rasheed Khan from Raw Fitness too narrates the same experience. The three fitness experts say that they are willing to adhere to social distancing and sanitisation of equipment norms as laid down by competent authorities. “Exercise can help in boosting immunity. Just let us open the gym. We will be more than happy to abide by the government’s rules,” Mr Khan says.

Payments from clients is another issue. “If a client has paid a year’s fee, he would naturally want his package extended by at least two months since the gym was closed. It then becomes an ethics issue,” an instructor explains.

Fitness experts also opined that in a post-COVID world, the operations of gyms could change dramatically, and suggested a slot system.

A limited number of clients would be given an hour after which they would have to leave, giving space to another set of clients who would follow the same rule.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 12:09:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/gym-owners-worried-as-unlock-1-bypasses-them/article31742750.ece

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