Huge blow for gyms. . . strict operating times affecting business  

Austin Karonga

Gymnasium proprietors are counting the losses brought about by the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak on their businesses despite the government recently giving them a green light to resume operations.
All gyms were closed down after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 30 in order to curb the spread of the novel virus.
It was only last week that the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) finally allowed some facilities to resume operations but under strict health guidelines.
Operating times have been fixed from 8am to 4.30pm for all licensed gyms while strict hygiene regimens must be followed in order to keep clients and staff safe from the contagious virus.
With clients producing tonnes of sweat in their quest to be in tip top fitness condition, there is still a lot of paranoia with visiting the gym for most people.
The strict operating times have hampered the business as most fitness enthusiasts usually frequented gyms early in the morning before working hours between 5am and 7am and later at night from 5pm to 8pm.
Pro Fitness Borrowdale Gym owner Farzana Kahn Hussein said business is yet to recover from the effects of the Covid-19.
“We are now adhering to the operating times of 8am to 4.30pm but the nature of a gym is such that our peak times are early in the morning before people go to work and in the evening when people come back from work; those are our busiest times,” Hussein told the Daily News yesterday.
“The times that we were given to operate do not really service the majority of the population because they also go to work during the 8am to 4.30pm time slot; it is very trying for us.
“As you can see, the gym is empty and people who would ordinarily come to work out can’t come to work out now because of those times.”
The only positive Hussein is taking from this Covid-19 period is that the lockdown gave them a chance to do some renovations and install new workout machines.
“We have used this opportunity while we were closed to upgrade our facilities and some new equipment so we have taken the lemons that Covid-19 has given us and turned them it into lemonade,” she said.
Huessein also encouraged all other gymnasiums to follow the SRC’s health protocols.  
“It’s really important that all gyms within the sector adhere to the strict protocols that the SRC has laid out,” she said.
“Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that not all gyms are adhering to it and I would urge the SRC to put measures in place against those that are not adhering to it because at the end of the day, we don’t want to risk closure of the sector again because a few players are not adhering.”
Another manager at one of the facilities that is also operating in the city centre told the Daily News that the sector will need a lot of support to remain viable.
“The operating times are really killing us because right now, there is not even a single client inside as you can see,” said the manager.
“We have been using tele-marketing to inform our clients that we have opened and they should come through but they are not able to due to work commitments.
“We have also realised that some of our regular clients are not renewing their subscriptions because some of them have been laid off totally while others have suffered salary cuts due to the depressed economy during this Covid-19 period.”      
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness has challenged SRC to come up with a distinct criterion on licensing of gyms in the country.
“Opening of gyms is a welcome development. Gyms create employment directly and indirectly. There are families whose livelihood is primarily centred on gyms,” NFZBBF secretary-general Quite Shangai told the Daily News.


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