Focus on hourly sanitisation, distancing, members' medical history as gyms prepare to reopen

Gaurav Saini
·4-min read

New Delhi, Jul 30 (PTI) Gyms in the national capital have equipped themselves with loads of disinfectants, PPE kits for trainers, hired more workers for regular sanitisation and made Aarogya Setu app mandatory as they prepare to reopen after more than four months.

Some have even made it mandatory for their members to furnish their medical history and give an undertaking that they are not infected by coronavirus.

However, they have not made mask mandatory as it may cause breathing difficulty during a heavy workout.

The Centre on Wednesday released guidelines for unlock 3 -- the third phase of gradual lifting of COVID-19-related restrictions in the county -- allowing gyms and yoga centers to reopen from August 5.

They were closed from March 25, when the country went into a lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Owners of several gyms told PTI that the focus will be on sanitisation of equipment after every use and limiting the number of customers at any given time.

'We will not allow any group activity. There will be only 10 people working out in a 2,000-square feet area. Each user will have a personal trainer,' said Naveen Kandhari, the owner of Ozone, one of the largest gym chains in India.

Members will have to give an undertaking, declaring their health status and medical history, he said, adding they have been asked to bring their own towels and sippers.

Aarogya Setu application will be mandatory, he said.

The trainers have been given personal protective equipment kits, he said, adding members won't be allowed to use the steam room and sauna.

However, the use of masks is not mandatory as it can cause trouble breathing during intensive workouts, he said.

'We have also requested the government to give a rebate on GST, else it will be difficult for fitness centres to survive,” Kandhari, who operates 10 luxury gyms across Delhi-NCR, said.

The GST rate for fitness centers and gyms is 18 percent at present.

Anoop Nair, who runs Spa Hibiscus in Mayur Vihar, said members with visible symptoms of coronavirus will not be allowed entry.

'They will be asked to furnish their medical history. Aarogya Setu application is a must,' he said.

Thermal scanning will be conducted at the main entrance. A sanitiser dispenser has been attached with every equipment, he said.

'We have employed more helpers to be able to deal with the workload. They will be sanitising the machinery after every use,' Nair said, adding not more than 20 members will be using the gym at one time.

Mahesh Bhati, 35, who owns M R Fitness Zone in Amar Colony, said he will allow only eight members in a slot so that there is enough distance between them as they burn calories. 'We have got around 2,000-square-feet area. Only eight people can be allowed. They will have to bring their own towels and water bottles. The whole premises and equipment will be sanitised on an hourly basis,' he said.

Three helpers have been deployed to clean machines after each use, he said, adding arrangements have been made for thermal scanning.

'We are also considering increasing the membership fees to make up for the losses,' he said.

Prem Chaudhary of Physique and Fitness Gym in Jangpura said members will be asked to disinfect the machine after using it. 'Besides, our staff will clean the entire premises every hour.' Adhering to social distancing norms, only 10 to 12 people will be allowed to work out in the 2,700-square feet area, but masks won't be necessary, he said.

With the operation costs increasing in the wake of the pandemic, Chaudhary is also mulling effecting an increase of Rs 200 per person in the membership fees.

'We have informed our members of the same. This is necessary, else our survival will become difficult,' he said. Neerj David, who runs Craft Fitness Gym in Defence Colony, said he has got the cardio section restructured to ensure adherence of physical distancing norms.

'We have created partitions for extra safety. Only one member will be allowed in one partition. Total six people can exercise at one time in a 1,200 square-feet area,' he said.

David said members will be asked to bring their personal items and disinfect the equipment themselves after using it. PTI GVS TIR TIR