Mumbai: Most gyms remain shut despite Unlock

Updated: 27 October, 2020 10:14 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar, Gaurav Sarkar, Shirish Vaktania | Mumbai

Safety concerns for customers and difficulty in reaching workplace for staff mean it will take a while for fitness centres to be fully operational; gym owners want customers to bear 50 per cent membership losses

A member works out at Reset Gym in Bandra. Pic/Shadab Khan; A member exercises with her mask on. Pic/Sameer Markande; Pritesh Jagtap, a gym trainer from Mulund
A member works out at Reset Gym in Bandra. Pic/Shadab Khan; A member exercises with her mask on. Pic/Sameer Markande; Pritesh Jagtap, a gym trainer from Mulund

While many fitness enthusiasts and gym owners were happy to resume their routines on Monday, a huge chunk of the gyms — around 80 per cent — haven't opened yet due to lack of trainers and staff. This, even after the state government allowed all gyms to open with relevant COVID protocols.

Gym members and trainers at Reset gym on Monday. Pic/Shadab Khan
Gym members and trainers at Reset gym on Monday. Pic/Shadab Khan

As people returned to their favourite gyms on Monday, the sentiment was to get back in shape immediately. While many lost their abs or muscles amid no work out during the lockdown, some managed to keep their weight in control thanks to housework in the absence of maids. Read on to find out the results of mid-day's test drive on reopened gyms.'

Members work out at Anytime Fitness Kemps Corner on Monday. Pic/Sameer Markande
Members work out at Anytime Fitness Kemps Corner on Monday. Pic/Sameer Markande

V-Fitness gym, Shivaji Park

Gym member Sonali Bagwe; trainer Vinod Chavan. Pics/Sameer Markande; Trainer Vipul Gonabare
Gym member Sonali Bagwe; trainer Vinod Chavan. Pics/Sameer Markande; Trainer Vipul Gonabare

The owner of V-Fitness said that members were clamouring to resume. Dadar resident Sonali Bagwe, 34, said, "I could only practise yoga during the lockdown but a gym is a gym. I do have difficulty breathing with a mask so I take it off while on the treadmill."

Related: Mumbai: Andheri gym downs shutters without informing staffers, claims trainer

Another trainer Vinod Chavan, said, "It was very tough surviving during the lockdown. I am thrilled to resume work too."

Anytime Fitness Kemps Corner, Kemps Corner

Janvi Vakil; Mrudang Goradia; (right) Mohamad Ali Hajati. Pics/Sameer Markande
Janvi Vakil; Mrudang Goradia; (right) Mohamad Ali Hajati. Pics/Sameer Markande

Anytime Fitness at Kemps Corner had begun operations only six months before the lockdown. Gym owner Mrudang Goradia, 48, was at the gym with his wife Sonal and son Rohan.

Goradia said, "I suffered a huge loss during the lockdown. The response from the people is good. But people are having trouble working out with a mask on." Student Mohammed Ali Hajati, 24, said, "I lost all my muscles in the lockdown. I am thrilled to be back. Fitness is everything for me."

Reset gym, Bandra

A  gym member gets his vitals checked at the entrance of Reset gym, Bandra. Pic/Shadab Khan
A gym member gets his vitals checked at the entrance of Reset gym, Bandra. Pic/Shadab Khan

Parvez Mistry, 42, was one of the first customers to walk into Reset, Bandra on Monday at 7.30 am. "There were around four to five members working out in the morning with around three trainers — wearing masks," said Mistry. "Housekeeping staff cleaned the handles of the equipment and weights. I felt like I was being watched — but it is for the greater good. It's comforting to know that while customers are taking 100 per cent precautions, gyms such as Reset are taking 300 per cent precautions," Mistry told mid-day.

Karan Talreja, 42, the co-founder of Reset, said: "A major concern is 'surface contamination' which we addressed by getting our facility 'nano-coated'. It is generally used in ICUs to prevent viruses from surviving on surfaces." Reset is allowing around five trainers at a time. "Also, we have 10-12 members in every slot. We reduce the number of trainers on the floor if they are not needed." Feasibility of slashed staff and customers aside, Talreja said that they are focussing on being operational for their loyal customer base. "Business numbers will pick up once members feel safe at Reset. Around 70 per cent of our members returned on Day 1 of the reopening," Talreja said.

Slim Well Gym, Mahim

A temperature check at Slim Well Gym, Mahim, on Monday
A temperature check at Slim Well Gym, Mahim, on Monday

This gym in Mahim had a few members working out on Monday. Owner Yogini Patil said, "It's a new beginning for us. We will have only 10 people using the gym at a time. People will also have to maintain six-feet distance and wear a mask. We will give masks to those without one. Though they find it a little difficult to workout wearing them."

Yashu Toraskar
Yashu Toraskar

Businessman Yashu Toraskar, 45, from Shivaji Park said, "Before lockdown, I weighed 90 kg, but now my weight is 105 kg. I am thrilled to be back in the gym." Preeti Sadarangani, 39, from Mahim, said, "I lost a lot of weight during the lockdown as there were no maids. The gym feels safe to work out in as there are few people at a time."

Yogini Patil, owner, Slim Well Gym. Pics/Sameer Markande
Yogini Patil, owner, Slim Well Gym. Pics/Sameer Markande

Trainer Raju Bhaidkar, 50, said, "I was jobless during the lockdown. This is a new start."

Rewind Fitness, Mulund West

A gym member with a trainer at Rewind Fitness
A gym member with a trainer at Rewind Fitness

Affan Momin, owner of Rewind Fitness in Mulund West, said, "When gyms were shut, everyone seemed to pledge support and offer help to the community. But now that the government has decided on the SOPs and opened gyms, the common narrative is — why should we bear the losses? It is not like we earned during the lockdown. We too had our maintenance and other expenses. In fact, with gyms reopening, the battle has just begun. The next three months will be crucial for us.

Affan Momin, owner, Rewind Fitness
Affan Momin, owner, Rewind Fitness

"All clients whose memberships have expired or are partially over will want extensions. A membership protocol has been discussed and chalked out by Mahafit, an anchor group of gym owners, where it has been decided that losses will be borne 50:50. For everyone who approaches gyms from October 25 to November 1, we will try and work out partial extensions. For instance, if a six-month membership is pending, we will bear three months loss and the other half the client will bear," he said.
Rewind Fitness has 90-minute workout slots with 25-30 people in each. The gym is sanitised every three hours.

Transform Gyms

Nikhil Rajpuria

Nikhil Rajpuria, owner of Transform Gyms, said, "Only the front desk and reception area were opened yesterday. We will start fitness training in a week. Our phones kept ringing with members asking exactly when we would open. A couple of members visited different branches to see what we were doing. They checked the cleaning process, shifting of stuff and sanitisation measures. Overall, people are certainly eager to re-start their schedules."

Speaking about going back to fitness routines, Dr S Rajadhyaksha said, "People are eager to go back to weight training, but do not pick up from where you left off seven months ago if you have not been training. In fact, pick up from a much lower level and go to the optimum one much later with regular training. I would also of course stress the need for appropriate COVID behaviour within the gym. There should not be any COVID complacency at all."

Gold's Gym, Mulund

A Gold's Gym member works out at the Mulund centre
A Gold's Gym member works out at the Mulund centre

Gold's Gym saw a good response. Manager Suraj Shetty said, "People have been steadily coming in. There were around 70 to 80 people in the morning and all had their own towels, napkins, masks, face shields and water-bottles. There were some new faces too, which means there have been new admissions," he said.

Suyash Kulkarni, a member of Gold's Gym
Suyash Kulkarni, a member of Gold's Gym

Suyash Kulkarni, a member of Mulund's Gold's Gym for five years, said, "Inside the gym, six feet distance is maintained between members and all the equipment is cleaned and sanitised after every use. The trainers also wear masks and gloves."

Ab's Fitness, Kandivli East

Rajesh Sawant, owner, Ab's Fitness
Rajesh Sawant, owner, Ab's Fitness

Rajesh Sawant, owner of Ab's Fitness, said, "My gym is primarily used by hardcore weight lifters, bodybuilders and powerlifters. I could feel the excitement as we opened yesterday. We had good attendance in batches and overall there were 70 people yesterday." Gym owners claimed that in general people were walking, jogging and cycling outdoors, which took care of their cardiovascular routines, but not much was being done in terms of strength training. Hence, getting back to the routine with the dumbbells was certainly a big lure for them.

50-50
A loss-bearing arrangement that a body of gym owners, Mahafit, want in order to adjust customers' memberships

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First Published: 27 October, 2020 06:29 IST

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