Precautions aplenty, but not enough to draw customers to gyms

Equipment for working out in a park at Sadashivanagar.

Equipment for working out in a park at Sadashivanagar.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Despite getting the green signal to open, gyms and fitness centres in the city continue to stare at huge losses. Fitness enthusiasts are still not convinced about the safety of heading to their favourite workout places, leaving those running such centres saddled with mounting costs of keeping the place open, maintaining equipment and putting in place new precautions for COVID-19.

Pappu Ale, who owns Aero Fitness Centre, which has two branches in the city, said they were open on Wednesday with everything ready as per the government’s guidelines. But customers are not coming in. “People are scared. We have invested in everything from PPE kits and sanitisers to providing patrons with free masks. But I don’t see people coming in for the next six months. On Wednesday, not a single person turned up,” he said.

The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has had a very hard bearing on the sector, he added. “Many gyms in Koramangala have closed. How will they pay rent, electricity? In five months, my losses were ₹11 lakh,” he said.

Online classes are providing some cushion, but to a very small extent. “We had to give certain complimentary equipment, such as dumbbells and boxing kits, to our customers. I’m planning to downsize and close portions of the gym in order to sustain it,” he said.

Kumar Velu, owner, Powerfitness gym in Hennur, said everything that the government prescribed was in place: mandating the Arogya Setu app, thermal scanning, sanitisers, disinfecting shoes, face shield and gloves. “We are not allowing people to wear shorts and sleeveless clothes. We have asked them to bring towels, one to wipe equipment with sanitiser and one for themselves. They are not allowed to use the showers,” he said.

The gym has reduced the equipment so that social distancing can be maintained. “Yet, from more than a 100 people in a day, now only 12 customers are coming in. We have requested the owner to allow us to pay the rent in instalments,” he said.

It is not just gym owners. The rest of the ecosystem is also hurting, said Kiran Aachar, one of the owners of Fit Fine Fitness gym, Mathikere. “Many gyms are up for sale. Trainers are out of work and many have gone back to their hometowns. Owners of stores that sell fitness supplement are also hit. They are unable to get imported stock and what’s available is nearing the expiry date. They don't know what to do with it,” said Mr. Aachar.

Only 18 people turned up at his gym on Wednesday. He believed one of the reasons was that their main clientèle were students, most of who are no longer in Bengaluru. “We are making a conscious decision to allow only patrons who live within a four-kilometre radius because we don’t want anyone from a containment zone to enter. We have cut down one hour sessions by 20 minutes to accommodate sanitisation. But we have gone back 15 years. I see this getting better only after a vaccine is found. Right now, it’s a question of survival,” he added.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2020 10:14:15 PM |

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