MUMBAI: Salil Samant, a 28-year-old Mahim resident, can’t wait to hit the gym again. “Maybe they should consider throwing gyms open in a bit. After all, it’s about health and fitness,” says Samant, a regular gym-goer. Samant is ready to adhere to all rules, “After all, we have to live with the virus for now… But that won’t stop me from gymming. I’ll be as regular as before,” asserts Samant.
Gym owners, on their part, are sweating it out, of late, devising plans for members before gyms reopen. Already, they’ve chalked out a slew of tentative measures that could change the gymming concept in the wake of the Covid pandemic.
City gyms locked up in March as threat of coronavirus loomed. Gyms, where trickles of sweat flow abundantly, were seen as hubs for the infection to spread. For over three months now, regular gym-goers have been starved of their daily fitness regimen.
Only recently, the state government announced it would frame a standard operating procedure after which a decision on opening of gym will be taken. This has got gym authorities at the drawing board, reworking rules for clients.
At V Fitness, a gym near Shivaji Park in Dadar, a rough game plan is already in place. “We might need to ask members to come in batches, especially during morning and evening peak hour when footfalls are high to help maintain social distancing,” says Ankush Shedge, business partner at V Fitness. He admits that it could invite murmurs of objection. “But gyms have to stick to rules.”
At Parindi’s Fitness Hub in Ghatkopar, members would be made to book slots in advance. “It’s going to be a bit tricky, but that’s the way to go,” says Parindi Shah, proprietress of the women-only fitness centre. “Gyms may need to counsel clients about the new form and norm… But rules will have to followed,” says Shah.
Gym owners are exchanging notes with other fitness clubs in their proximity and a common refrain seems to be emerging. A face mask during workout is not feasible and is being ruled out. Providing sanitisers, checking temperatures are among common measures gyms are planning. Also, members may be told to get their personal mats and to clean up equipment they use although a housekeeping employee would be around at all times. Members will not be allowed to string up clothes in changing rooms.
People’s Gym at Malad (west) used to have around 70 members swarming its five workout areas during non-peak hour. “Now, we need to ensure that no more than 35 are present,” says Anand Modi, owner of the gym that has TV artistes and celebrities among its regulars. “Also, treadmills and other cardio equipment will have to be spaced out, perhaps with partitions, as a distancing measure.”
Could it cause drop in footfalls and hit business? “Of course, yes… And we might have to consider hiking fees to stay afloat financially,” says Modi. A view reiterated by Shah. “Business will be affected 100%,” she says. V Fitness too predicts that gyms cannot expect new members to enrol for now. “Obviously, it’s going to be tough for a while at least,” says Shedge. Most city gyms have been weighed down by rents, staff salaries and other fixed costs. What makes it more difficult for them that they have not had new memberships coming in or even existing members renewing their subscriptions.
People’s Gym plans to insist on members doing weights before hitting the treadmill. “With weights you do not sweat as much while cardio makes you sweat profusely,” says Modi, explaining the rationale behind the move. “Taking a shower or steam will be out for now.”
A school for fitness trainers is already planning to tweak its syllabus to factor in the new rules. “There is too much concern over the spread of Covid. We are tweaking our syllabus to incorporate factual, scientific training to future gym trainers who pass out from our school,” says Kaizzad Capadia, principal of K11 School of Fitness Sciences, a national training school, headquartered in the city.
City gyms say if other commercial establishments can be allowed to reopen, gyms should not be kept waiting anymore. “Already, the government has put in place basic rules,” says Shedge. “Reopening gyms won’t be a problem. We’re ready.”



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