Gyms in India have a very tough battle as increasing number of cases may have pushed reopening of health centers to late July/August. Many personal trainers and gym staff are suffering from pending payments, gym owners have debts for electricity and rents piling up. Bodybuilders in India had to go to the extent of begging for money. A Hindustan Times report focussed on how Ludhiana-based Members of the Natural Bodybuilders Union International (NBBUI) staged a symbolic protest by begging on the Jagraon bridge while members of the Gym Ekta Welfare Association exercised in the open near Jalandhar bypass on Thursday evening.
This leads to a very big problem as trainers in India only have a single source of revenue by training clients. They often have households that completely rely on them and lockdown has made it very difficult to make a livelihood. Some trainers have turned to online coaching to train their clients using bodyweight exercises, and other equipment if possible. However, gyms function best when gym staff and trainers have a one on one interaction as it leads to a better relationship between client and trainer and utilization of equipment by clients.
Gyms and health centres saw an influx after the launch of Fit India movement, an initiative by the government to combat the sedentary lifestyle and help people engage in more physical activity. This saw a rise of people becoming part of the fitness industry either as trainers, nutritionists or clients who were willing to become a better version of themselves.
Gyms across the world have come up with various solutions such as time slots for clients, improvising with shower curtains being used as separate sections for each machine or sanitizing equipment after every use. Social distancing is maintained and some countries have a very significantly lower population and cases of the virus, leading to gyms having fewer restrictions when it comes to operating. India could adopt a similar time slot system where based on the individual’s work, personal and fitness priorities, certain timeslots on certain days could be allotted.
Another alternative would be for clients who opted personal training could receive callisthenics or yoga-based training at home to provide similar benefits in strength and fitness. Reopening of gyms could be estimated anywhere from the end of July to September as cases aren’t showing signs of slowing down. India is most likely to reopen gyms by the end of July/August, even after which it might face problems as people may not want to join them immediately due to health concerns. Gyms also face ethical issues regarding extension of gym memberships and providing concessions for lost time. Gym owners have pleaded to the government previously for opening gyms and providing support like it has been done with other businesses and organizations but pleas were unsuccessful. It is safe to say that phase 3 of the lockdown, by which the number of cases should have supposedly lowered is when gyms are likely to open.