Mumbai: Gyms, fitness centres to open for customers from October 26

Updated: 24 October, 2020 07:24 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Gyms to reopen after 7-month hiatus with 50% occupancy, blocked machines and no group sessions to ensure distancing

A gym personnel sanitises equipment at a Grant Road gym. Pic /Ashish Raje
A gym personnel sanitises equipment at a Grant Road gym. Pic /Ashish Raje

Dussehra brings with it some cheer for gym owners. Fitness centres which were closed for seven months amid the lockdown have got permission to unlock from Sunday onwards but will be open to customers from Monday. For fitness enthusiasts, it looks like the good times are back. For gym owners, it is elation laced with caution.

Nikhil Kakkar, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Gold's Gym India, laughed as he said, "You can add excitement to that emotional quotient. We have permissions to open from Sunday but most of our gyms will be opening from October 26, with openings of different centres continuing till November 1. So many months of shut down meant deep cleaning and servicing of equipment."

Markings for social distancing at a Gold’s Gym in Pune
Markings for social distancing at a Gold’s Gym in Pune

The chain's flagship Pali Naka, Bandra West outpost opens on Monday. "We ensure social distancing by allowing only alternate treadmills to function. We also have certain markers on the floor so that those working out stand on the delineated markings. Weight stations also may have certain benches removed or placed at a distance." Like most centres, half full is house full here too. Members will have to book one-hour slots through an app, "After which we will have cleaning timings as one batch leaves, and then, the next group of members comes in," stated Kakkar.

Making space

For Badal Makwana, MD, Anytime Fitness, Andheri and Khar branches, Sunday is the reopening day for both centres. Like most gyms, shower and steam rooms will remain shut, and, "Since group activities like yoga and Zumba are not allowed, some machines will be moved to those spaces to create more distancing on the gym floor. Members will have to reserve a slot to train, a bit like a movie," laughed Makwana. The fitness professional claimed, "There is a segment of members who may not access gyms till a vaccine is found. Yet, at least 65 per cent of our member base wants to begin their fitness practise in gyms. They believe their immunity, too, will get a boost with good nutrition and exercise. For that, the gym is the right place to be," he finished.

New routines

The pre-preparations meant "Starting maintenance as soon as lockdown eased a little and we could call in personnel to service machines," said Bhavesh Chheda, co-founder, Neha Nutrifit, which has centres in Tardeo and Charni Road.

A blocked treadmill to ensure social distancing
A blocked treadmill to ensure social distancing

"Since Sunday is Dussehra, we will start with a pooja and sales inquiries at the gym. Full-scale operations, fitness training will begin on Monday. We had to put in a lot of effort to maintain machines and prevent rust.

"We will work at 50 per cent capacity. Gyms tend to be saturated with members in the early mornings or late evenings. These are peak workout hours. The Work From Home (WFH) routines have changed this dynamic and a lot of members now want the afternoon slots as they are at home," said Chheda.

Common points

Most gyms will not allow members to access shower or steam rooms or sauna. Even common yoga mats, often used for other floor exercises, will be packed away, said some.

A gym prepares for the reopening
A gym prepares for the reopening

Every fitness hub has dedicated cleaning times and members will be told to wear masks when they enter or face shields. They claim that their trainers, too, are now fully apprised of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and safety norms.

Fitness enthusiast and regular runner Naveen Hegde, who like so many regulars, exercised outdoors throughout the lockdown said, "Many people are habituated to exercising in closed environments like gyms. Opening of these with proper guidelines will be a relief for both citizens and establishments."

Badal Makwana, MD, Anytime Fitness, Andheri and Khar
Badal Makwana, MD, Anytime Fitness, Andheri and Khar

Several gyms also double up as social hubs, with members lingering after workouts, spending time chatting in these places.

Hegde finished, "Overall, this may be good but it comes with great responsibility for both, management and members. People must complete their exercise session and leave without socialising."

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First Published: 24 October, 2020 06:15 IST

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