Mumbai: Gym owners to protest outside Uddhav Thackeray's residence Matoshree
Fitness industry to take battle to reopen to CM's home, on grounds that most sectors have been allowed to resume business
When the city went into a complete lockdown, Mahesh Gupta, 33, who has been a fitness trainer for more than a decade, had no idea that he would struggle to purchase medications and the special diet required for his one-year-old daughter who is lactose intolerant. Gupta is among the city's fitness trainers and gym owners, who are frustrated with their financial troubles, and have planned a peaceful protest outside Matoshree, the chief minister's private residence, on October 19 to voice their demands.
'Had to borrow money'
Gupta's daughter has not been able to drink cow or buffalo milk due to an allergic reaction. "She needs a special kind of milk called Isomil (a soy-based product) which costs around R5,000 per month. My other daughter goes to school and I have to pay her fees as well. I have not received a salary for the past seven months and have had to borrow money from friends and relatives. But how long can I do that? It's a question of survival now," he said.
Mahesh Gupta has been struggling since the lockdown to get medicines and the special foods required for his younger daughter
After malls and restaurants were allowed to reopen, gym owners feel it's unfair that they are not being allowed to resume services. Shalini Bhargava, owner of JGS Fitness Centre in Santacruz, and member of the Maharashtra Fitness Association said that she has had to shell out rent for the property along with financial help to her staff for the past seven months. "The machines in the centre are very expensive and they are getting ruined due to rust and fungus. When everything else is being allowed to open, then what is the logic behind keeping the gyms shut? We are carrying out a peaceful procession because we want to be heard and we are hoping that the CM notices," she said. Bhargava added that around 50 fitness trainers and gym owners will be part of the protest and they will follow social distancing norms. More than 20,000 trainers and gym owners are part of the association.
Shalini Bhargava says they are holding a peaceful procession because they want to be heard
'Will take precautions'
Gym owners emphasised their willingness to implement all the precautions like disinfecting the equipment before and after every workout, deep sanitisation, allowing customers with prior bookings and fumigating the premises every evening. Highlighting the plight of the fitness trainers especially, fitness instructor and marathon trainer Vijay Alva said, "The pandemic has hit the fitness industry badly. While we have financially supported our staff, many trainers have had to take up odd jobs at construction sites in Thane. If we are willing to follow all possible norms and safety protocols, then we should be allowed to reopen as well," he said.
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