Coronavirus impact: Fitness industry suffers amidst COVID-19 crisis

ST Staff
Sunday, 21 June 2020

Gym owners struggle with no income and hefty loans that have piled over during the lockdown. 

Pimpri: There are around fifteen thousand gyms, fitness and health clubs in the state. Out of these, 5 to 10 per cent gyms have become bankrupt and are getting sold. The huge crisis of unemployment has developed in the fitness industry. Many gym owners, trainers and employees are suffering due to this. Therefore, the Indian Body Building and Fitness Federation (IBBFF) has demanded that the centre and the state government should permit them to re-start gyms with strict terms and conditions.

There are around one thousand gyms in Pune city and fifteen thousand gyms across the Maharashtra state. Most of the gym owners belong to the middle-class background. When there is no income, it is difficult for them to pay bank loans and salary of trainers. The unprecedented times due to COVID-19 pandemic are giving bad time to the fitness industry.

Dr Sanjay More, General Secretary of IBBFF told, "Excluding 5-10 big brand gym franchisees, other 90 per cent gyms in the state are hardcore. These gyms are started by former bodybuilding players as part of employment at rented places. They do not have advanced facilities like commercial gyms and also they do not charge high fee. The gym owners of such gyms pay from 15 to 20 thousand to one and a half lakh per month as rent. Each gym has 2 to 10 trainers. With all these expenses they also have to pay bank instalments, the salary of other employees and the electricity bill." He further added, "As of now since two and half months there is no income. Comparatively, there is no reduction in the loan. Therefore, gym owners and workers are facing a big crisis."

Request for permission

Gym owners have requested Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray through former MP Chandrakant Khaire. They have requested permission to start the gyms with strict terms and conditions. The request is sent to all the collectors and also the Centre government.

Rajesh Irale, International Bodybuilding player and Director of Fitness Factory said, "I started business in partnership. Rent for my gym is two and a half lakh. Rent for some small gym owners has been reduced. But my landowner is not ready to give such a reduction. I did not have money to pay their salary. I have just provided them with food and grocery for a month. Even if the government approves now, it will take 3-6 months to come back on the track. The government must waive rent, GST and electricity bills."

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