Gyms and fitness centres across the state have re-opened, after over seven months, to low footfall. Gym owners have said it is too soon to tell how the state’s fitness industry will recover from the break imposed by the Covid-19 lockdown.
Following the state government’s announcement on Friday, gym owners re-opened their establishments to members on Sunday. “Existing members are reluctant to return because they fear being infected by the virus. However, we did receive many inquiries for new memberships on Monday. Those who have recovered from the virus, or had other infections, have realised the importance of exercising regularly,” said Ramesh Panchal of the Maharashtra Fitness and Gym Association.
In accordance with government guidelines for crowd control, gyms, especially those located in affluent areas and those part of multinational franchises such as Anytime Fitness, have started offering members the option to reserve exercise slots on their websites. Standalone gyms have urged members to book their slots on dedicated WhatsApp numbers.
Meanwhile, cult.fit, which lets its members book slots and their desired workout at their closest fitness centre, is yet to re-open its centres in Mumbai.
All 1,400 members of the association re-opened their establishments on Sunday. The days ahead will require intensive marketing and publicity campaigns to coax members to return, Panchal said. “In the next six to seven days, we will know what the number of inquiries for memberships are,” he said.
The next few months, Panchal added, will be crucial in determining how many establishments manage to stay afloat. “Very few establishments got rent waivers from their landlords. Electricity companies issued averaged-out bills despite gyms being closed. An owner with a monthly operating cost of Rs 4 lakh will now start out with a debt of Rs 16 to 18 lakh,” he said.
Panchal also said increased expenditure on oxymetres, thermometers, disinfectants and sanitation will be mitigated by reduced electricity use. “We are now required to set air conditioners to higher temperatures than before, and are forbidden from operating showers and steam rooms. So the electricity usage will gradually decrease,” he said.
Shrikant Jadhav, general secretary of the Maharashtra Gym Owners Association, said that of the 1,700 members, 70 per cent opened their establishments on Sunday. “We have been informing individual clients of new guidelines. It would really help if the government also steps in to remind citizens of the importance of staying fit,” he said.
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