Relief tinged with anxiety for gyms

 thehindu.com  08/02/2020 17:17:33 

As gyms in Hyderabad get set to reopen on August 5, there is a palpable sense of excitement as well as anxiety among gym trainers and fitness freaks.

We will have a meeting on August 4 to decide steps that we need to follow. We have been waiting to reopen as the lockdown impacted us in a big way, says Ravi who manages a gym in Hafeezpet.

Gym owners have taken to social media to raise their grievance about the COVID-19 lockdown and its impact on their business. Please look after gyms in Hyderabad. Due to lockdown, we gym owners cannot pay rents and look after our staff. Many gym owners have invested lakhs in starting gyms but now there is no source of income to pay rents, a gym owner tweeted a few days ago, tagging Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs V. Srinivas Goud.

Gyms might open but I dont know whether people will come to train. Can we completely sanitise the space every 45 minutes? I am seeing clients in the US and Australia sanitising the place every half an hour, but most gyms will not be able to do that, says Bilon Aristotle, a trainer at a Banjara Hills gym. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is yet to issue guidelines for SOPs to be followed by gyms though the Ministry of Home Affairs promised them on July 29.

Badly hit

Many gyms which operate out of large rented spaces on the main roads are facing a financial crisis due to backlog of rent, electricity bills, salaries to trainers, and extension of membership to patrons. A gym spread over 10,000 square feet which opened in June 2019 had 400 members when it was forced to down shutters in March leaving the owner-partners high and dry.

I am not planning to go to the gym till the pandemic dies down. I will let go the membership fee; it is not very important. We cannot exercise with masks and the gym is a closed space. Nobody wants to take a risk. My training partner too is worried and is unlikely to step into a gym anytime soon, says Sanjay who trains at a gym in Khairatabad.

Incidentally, many gyms have reinvented themselves for home training. Training at home began tentatively but now many people have bought weights and other equipment, and are regularly exercising. In gyms, we had to pester them, but now they are punctual and dedicated, says Mr. Aristotle.

Reopening of gyms will prove to be another crucial test for life returning to normal in the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic.

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