Hyderabad: A gymnasium owner from Hyderabad has written to Telangana Minister for Industries KT Rama Rao (KTR) to consider reopening exercise-parlors as fitness could be a strong weapon against COVID-19.

Mohammed Awaizuddin, who owns a chain of Body Engineers Gym outlets in Hyderabad said he was incurring a loss of at least Rs 4 lakh per gym per month due to lockdown. He owns three top-end gymnasiums in the city.

“I am forced to stop the business. I am incurring heavy losses. There are rents to be paid, salaries to be given and the money we need to look after our families… The stress is too much,” said Awaizuddin.

The businessman argued that if everything including hotels and wine shops were allowed, why not gyms. “Gyms can also follow the precautions. Why can’t they allow gyms to function? We will ensure that social distancing measures are strictly followed. We will make arrangements in such a way there is no overcrowding. All the gym machines will be sanitized every one hour and masks will be mandatory,” Awaizuddin said.

Gym (1)

He urged Telangana Minister for Industries KTR to provide solutions for their problems. “We request the government to either provide us some concession in rents or consider reopening our institutes. Fitness should also be considered essential as it is a strong weapon against COVID-19,” he said.

The gym owner said despite being closed, they have to pay the electricity tariffs. “For April, the electricity bill of one of my gyms was Rs 25,000. The electricity bills of two other gyms were Rs 10,000 each. This is apart from the maintenance cost we have to bear due to the lockdown,” he said.

Awaizuddin said without proper exercise, people have become lazy. “Studies have proved that exercise is one of the important tools to boost immunity. Now, monsoon is approaching and a lot of people would prefer to visit gyms. If the government could take a favorable decision so that we could re-start our business,” he said.

Another gym owner from the city told NewsMeter, that there is a need to form an association and fight for the rights of gymanisum owners collectively. As of yet, Hyderabad does not have any association for gym owners.

The Centre’s COVID-19 lockdown guidelines, released on May 30, specified that the dates for re-opening of prohibited activities such as gymnasiums, swimming pools, cinema theatres, bars and auditoriums will be announced later.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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