Exercising one’s body is one of the pleasures of life. A fit body is a fit mind. An entire industry has emerged that is built around the human race’s urge to stay fit. A substantial percentage it can be said is interested in staying fit and that number is increasing. The industry however came to a standstill when the Coronavirus swept everything aside. Now after appeals from the industry, the government at the center has decided to allow gyms to reopen from August 5 once the sops from the Health Ministry is issued.
This move by the authorities has been generally welcomed by the industry as well as by fitness enthusiasts who were missing their sessions at the gym. Sanjay Patil owner of Maxsan a gym in Margao and the President of Goa Body Building and Fitness Association said it was a very welcome move by the government. He said “Many public facilities were open to the public and it was time gyms were opened too. We are in the business of enhancing and maintaining health and we will streamline and follow the rules. We will create more space by reducing the number of instruments on the floor. We will emphasise on sanitation and we will be strict about it. From the door to the instruments, they will have to follow the sops which will be given by the government”. He went on to say that he and others would have to control the numbers of clients working out at the same time. He said “We shall reduce the numbers by fifty per cent and the housekeeping staff will have to be part of the team enforcing the sops. The clients will be given a list of rules they will have to follow and it will be enforced”.
Joe Pango who runs a small gym in Guirim, however, felt he would be more cautious and would wait and watch the rapidly evolving situation. He said “We want to see what the sops are and will delay opening our gym. We will follow all the precautions. I intend to reduce the number of people using the facilities at the same time in order to be careful. Wearing a mask will be a must. Like I said I will study the situation and open but with caution”.
Prasad Dhuri owns Handstand Gym and Power Fitness in Vasco a hot spot for the virus. In a statement, he said “Finally the MHRD has decided to reopen gyms on 5th of August. We have decided to follow certain guidelines and strategies by maintaining hygiene and socially distant protocols. We will be opening the gym with limited capacity. Health and safety are the most important factors we consider when reopening our gym. We have adequate staff and cleaning supplies to implement these measures successfully. The body temperature of every member will be checked frequently at the time of entry and exit from the gym, outdoor footwear will be strictly prohibited, no entry without a mask, frequent sanitisation of hands, and workout at a distance of 1.5mtr from each other will be our priority. Members need to carry their own water bottles and towels. Arogya Setu app is mandatory on every member's phone. We are also requesting members to stay home in case they feel uneasy or sick. All gym equipment will be sanitised prior to opening and before closing”.
Felipe Alvarez the man behind Fitness Bar I Panjim said he was not aware that they could open. He said “The government has not given the sops’ and we will take time to open the facility. The current situation is not conducive. We will wait another fifteen days and check the sops”.
But not gym owners have welcomed the move. Preferring the stay anonymous the owner of this gym said the situation would get tough for gyms for the simple reason the sops would mean a complete restructuring of the gym which would mean investment which would not be forthcoming. To make matter worse the owner felt the number of gym addicts who would come would be minuscule which would not make it economical to run the facility. Time, he said would tell how things would work out.
The gym owner exists because of people like Akshay Naik who is desperate to go back to the gym. He said “ My stomach is now bulging out and I want to go back and work out. When you work out it boosts your immunity. I live in Vasco and I will follow the sops from the authorities. I will wear a mask though it will be difficult during a workout. However, I will maintain social distance”.
Sunil Karmalkar of Fitness is a personal trainer. He welcomed the saying the owners had to pay the rents and anyway working out was a good way to boost immunity. He said “As a trainer, I will take all the precautions. We will have time slots for clients and will reduce the numbers. Wearing a mask while exercising is very difficult but social distancing can be maintained. I don’t see the gym being crowded because only 30% will be in muscle building. I don’t see more than 4 to 6 people in the gym at the same time. The people who generally come to work out will continue to do so at home”.
Nandesh Raikar a bodybuilder, however, felt it was not a good idea to open the gyms. He said “With the festival season around the corner, especially the Ganesh festival, all these guys will turn up to work out for a month or two so that they can strut around in their t-shirts. Remember, people will be using the same dumbbells and generally the same equipment. You can request them to be careful once or twice but they will keep making mistakes like not maintaining social distance. It will be a problem. I will continue to work out at home with the equipment I have at home. I shall go to the gym after two months.”
It’s an interesting space to watch. Let’s see how this “works” out