Pradeep Singh

The All Odisha Gym Owner's Association has urged the State government to allow opening of gyms in the State by issuing a proper Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) as the fitness industry has been suffering from severe financial crisis.

The association has written a letter to the Chief Minister while urging him to consider their demand. The CM has also been urged to announce financial assistance and waiver of electricity bills, among others, for the gym owners and trainers staring at an uncertain future due to the closure in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Taking into account the size and investment in gyms, the government should announce financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 15 lakh," said Satyajit Das, president of the association. He further said that the government should also consider extending either interest-free or low-interest loans for them to deal with the current crisis situation.

The fitness industry is among the hardest hit since the outbreak of Covid-19. Apart from gym owners, professional trainers, dieticians and supporting staff are also currently facing a massive financial crisis.

Gym equipment worth lakhs of rupees are lying unused. Huge money is also being spent on maintenance of the equipment, said Satish, a gym owner.

"We are facing a lot of problems in giving house rent. We are also getting calls from banks for EMI payments. We will die either due to Coronavirus or financial crisis," said an international powerlifter Sangeeta Singh who has opened a fitness centre in Bhubaneswar.

While gym owners are finding it difficult to pay bank loans, electricity bills, rents and salaries of staff, professional bodybuilders also seem worried.

"We need proper equipment for training and without gyms, it is not possible. Our competitions are ahead and due to the closure of the gyms, we are unable to prepare ourselves for the tournaments," said an aspiring bodybuilder.

It is worth mentioning that there are around 1500 premium and non-premium gyms across Odisha with an investment of around Rs 50 lakh to Rs 2 crore in each. And over 30,000 gym trainers and dieticians are presently almost unemployed following the shutdown-induced closure of gyms.