September 16, 2020 12:31:14 am
IndiaActive, an association of stakeholders in the fitness industry, has urged the governments of Maharashtra, Bihar and Jharkhand to allow the reopening of gyms in their states.
During a webinar held on Tuesday, members of the association also said that steps such as reducing the GST below 12 per cent for gym memberships, concession on fixed expenses such as water and electricity bills, lowering custom duty on imported fitness equipment and most importantly, recognising fitness under the umbrella of healthcare, will help the industry recover from the impact of the six-month-long lockdown.
“Gyms and fitness centres have been closed for more than six months since the pandemic began in India and it is time the authorities acknowledge the need to restart the industry. There are constant overhead expenses, which include rent, electricity and payroll, and the gym owners and administrative bodies can’t go on for a long time,” said Istayak Ansari, director of UFC Gym and founding member of IndiaActive.
He said during the lockdown, “the gyms were always considered alongside cinemas and theatres, whereas the operations are more parallel to spas and salons. The latter resumed operations while in the case of gyms and fitness centres, there is a perception now that deems them as unsafe.”
Nikhil Kakkar, COO at Gold’s Gym and treasurer, India Active, pointed out that despite preparedness on the part of gyms, authorities are still reluctant in giving them permission to operate. “We have submitted the standard operating procedures to be undertaken and we are of the view that we need equal support from the government to ensure smooth functioning of the gyms. Moreover, saying that gyms are places where you can get infected easily, instead of the fact that you build your immunity with fitness, will adversely affect existing as well as new memberships. Currently, the fitness industry has seen a surge in its expenses and a deep dip in revenue,” he said.
Vikas Jain, managing director at Anytime Fitness and general secretary of IndiaActive, said, “The lockdown has rendered several gym employees jobless, and they have to look for other jobs as all gyms are closed. As many as 40 percent of gyms are in metros like Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, which are among the cities worst hit by the infection.”
The members said that authorities should help the industry by giving concessions on overhead expenses like electricity and water bills. It was also suggested that a GST tax holiday on membership, or lowering the tax below 12 per cent, among other measures, will encourage more people to join gyms.
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