Ever since Delhi began unlocking, gym owners and their employees have been checking their phones every Sunday for the latest Delhi Disaster Management Authority’s order – only to find they are not permitted to open yet.
Several owners said it is unfair to keep gyms shut as establishments in other parts of the country have started reopening and most other activities in the city have resumed.
Gyms had been shut for over six months last year and have been shut for over two months now. Owners said they have made losses running into lakhs and are unable to pay their staff. Many employees who live on rent have gone back to their respective hometowns.
Vijay Kumar, owner of Gravity Gym in Malviya Nagar, said gym members call regularly to enquire about opening dates: “We have to continue paying rent and electricity. I have made a loss of Rs 8.5 lakh in the last year.”
Even when gyms had opened, people preferred to opt for monthly subscriptions due to apprehensions of a lockdown being imposed again.
Akash Ailawadi who runs Absolute Fitness in Malviya Nagar echoed these concerns, saying monthly costs such as rent, electricity, and EMI for machines come up to Rs 80,000. He added, “Most average- sized gyms have made losses of around 10 lakh. The gyms in Gurgaon and Mumbai have opened. In Delhi, a doubt has set in people’s minds… They think that since the government is not reopening gyms, it is actually a hotspot for the virus.”
His brother, Gagan Ailawadi, who runs a branch of the same gym in Kalkaji, said they can only wait and hope that they reopen soon: “The gym had opened last September and there was hardly any business in the first few months. It was only after New Year that business was back on track since people make resolutions to become fit.”
The situation was just beginning to normalise when Covid cases started increasing and another lockdown was implemented, he said.
Vipin Gupta, who manages Spark Gym, expected that the Sunday order would allow gyms to reopen. “It has become difficult for us to survive, pay rent, children’s school fees etc. We are always the first to shut and the last to reopen. How is it that markets, liquor shops have opened and only gyms are still shut?” He added, “In fact, fitness boosts people’s immunity. People are still conscious about fitness and call us regularly.” He hoped that next week’s order will bring good news for them.
A few owners said there are gym associations but they are not as active and, hence, they are not heard and given priority like markets, restaurants.