Mumbai lockdown: 'If parlours can open, why not gymnasiums?' ask gym owners
Gym owners still knocking on government doors hoping for green light to open; despair and disbelief as fitness centres stay completely closed
As several industries get the green light to open with certain guidelines, gym owners and top tier management of exercise studios, are searching in vain for any signs that they will be allowed to open, even partially. With salons being allowed to operate from last week, the All India Gym Owners Association and fitness professionals under the umbrella name 'India Active!' met with the Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Nitin Gadkari, to push for their cause.
The meeting took place via a webinar on Wednesday.
Gym owners are afraid they will have to permanently shut shop if they are not allowed to open soon
Nikhil Kakkar, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Gold's Gym India said, "As an industry, we were one of the first to close down, and are sure to be one of the last to reopen. We need to open, of course with adherence to strict guidelines and provisions. We have just witnessed hotels being allowed to reopen with certain norms. If salons have been allowed to open with certain guidelines, then why not gyms?" Kakkar added that gyms will be in sync with the new normal, with reference to temperature checks, sanitisation and distancing. "We can curtail the numbers and operate at less capacity. Members will have to make appointments for their gym slot. We will maintain high levels of hygiene. In fact, when we made a presentation to the ministry, we said that after a 60-minute slot, there will be a 15-minute break where the facility will be sanitised. The government must allow us to work within certain parameters as there are rents to be paid to landlords and so many staffers are on our payrolls," the COO insisted.
Yet, while the overriding sentiment is to be allowed to open, there is dissension within. Nitij Arenja, investor, Melt Gym Churchgate said, "The recent revelation by some scientists that COVID transmission may be air-borne is alarming and of great concern. At this time, you want to put people in a gym, where they are exerting, breathing heavier and consuming more air. They have to wear a mask while doing so, this is extremely dangerous. If not wearing a mask, workout distance should be 20 feet indoors and not less than six feet outdoors. When we had 1,000 cases a day, you shut the gyms; when we have 20,000, you want to open them. As much as I want this business to work, I cannot for the life of me think of endangering someone. It is absolutely unsafe, you are going to have droplets in the air, sweaty bodies and sweat on machines. I do not think gyms should open for now, for as long as it takes, the safety of our members comes first," he finished strongly.
Suresh Rathod, a runner, who says running with a mask is very tough
Satish Gujaran, a distance runner based in Mulund said, "Running with a mask is difficult. Runners will have to cut their speed so that they can breathe easier. If and when gyms open, members can think of wearing face shields which will make breathing easier," said Gujaran who has been exercising at home since the pandemic.
Runner Suresh Rathod, who has been logging miles on his outdoor runs at Charni Road, where he lives said, "I run with a mask on, and drop my pace to about seven minutes a kilometre to breathe easy. I keep my stretching for the indoors." Runners say that enthusiasts and regulars need to take it slow and easy, it is hard to envisage any long-distance running event taking place in the next few months, so it is important to build up mileage gradually.
Vikas Jain, MD, Anytime Fitness chain of gyms
Vikas Jain, Managing Director (MD) of Anytime Fitness chain of gyms said, "We are not being treated equally with other industries. We have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that we have suggested and should be allowed to operate. We are not hurting anybody; in fact, these are places where people become mentally and physically fit." Jain said that people can wear visors and gloves.
"Gyms in other countries are operational. We are bleeding financially, with landlords demanding rents and forcing closures. Gyms do not operate on mammoth reserves.
They will have an operational surplus of one month at the most. At this rate, we will see the closure of at least 60 per cent of fitness centres, and I think this has already started, with daily reports that at least one fitness centre has been forced to shutter," signed off Jain.
Percentage of fitness centres that will shut down if they continue to remain closed, according to a gym chain MD
'We can curtail the numbers and operate at less capacity. We will maintain high levels of hygiene. The government must allow us to work within certain parameters as there are rents to be paid to landlords and so many staffers on our payrolls'
Nikhil Kakkar, COO, Gold's Gym, India
'As much as I want the business to work, I cannot for the life of me think of endangering someone. It is absolutely unsafe, you are going to have droplets, sweaty bodies, sweat on machines. I do not think gyms should open at all, for as long as it takes. Safety of our members comes first'
Nitij Arenja, investor, Melt Gym
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