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Mixed response to reopened gyms, yoga centers

As hundreds of gyms and yoga centers reopened this week after remaining shut for over four months due to the extended Covid-induced lockdown, the response on the first week was mixed due to various reasons.

"The response has been tepid on the first day of reopening of our gym due to coronavirus scare and strict guidelines, which allows an only limited number of members to work out at a time," trainer Vishwanthar Ramaiah at the Iron Cult gym at Basveshwarnagar in the city's northwest told IANS.

In contrast, the response at yoga centers was good despite the new guidelines also limiting the number of practitioners at a time to ensure physical distancing.

"Though we have been holding online classes since April, many of our members came on the first day of reopening the centre as it is conducive to do yoga under personal supervision," SGS International Yoga Kendra guru Niranjan Murthy said from Padmanabhnagar in the city's southern suburbs.

In compliance with the 'Unlock 3.0' guidelines of the Union Home Ministry issued on July 29, the state government allowed gyms and yoga centers in the state to reopen from August 5 with strict measures like wearing of masks, hand washing and maintaining physical distance by members and fumigation of the centers through the day.

"About 50 members were training at a time in line with our gym's capacity before Covid-hit lockdown. We had only 8-10 members on Wednesday during the morning, afternoon, and evening sessions. We hope it will increase in days to come, as 15 members are allowed at a time," said Ramaiah.

Of the 2,000 gyms across the city, many of them are yet to fully re-open, as trainers and staffers have not returned from their native places. Though lockdown in the city was lifted on June 1, gyms and yoga centers were not allowed to reopen to prevent people from gathering in one place.

"The gyms normally open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Members are allowed to work out in batches of 60-90 minutes on weekdays. Many of them are closed on Sunday. Besides a couple of trainers, some gyms have physiotherapists to guide them," said Ramaiah.

The 2,400-square-foot Iron Cult has all the equipment, including treadmills, rowing machines, upright bike, stair mill, cardiovascular machines, recumbent exercise bike, and dumbbells, among others.

"About 70 per cent of our regular members are men in the 20-60 age group. We are using a thermal scanner to screen them before allowing them inside. Hand washing and keeping 3-6 feet distance from others is must," asserted Ramaiah.

With increasing awareness of yoga for staying fit physically and mentally, hundreds of members made a beeline to yoga coaching centers across the city.

"Though we have the capacity to conduct classes in batches of 80-100 members at a time, we are restricting the batches to 50 per cent to maintain physical distancing," said Murthy.

As pranayama or breathing exercise cannot be held wearing masks, the center has exempted members from wearing them during it though they have to wear them when coming and going from the center.

"There are about 3,000 yoga coaching centers across the city, with over 1,000 registered and the remaining are a part of apartments, flats, and gated communities," Murthy said.

Though there is no let-up in the number of Covid cases surging in the city, gyms and yoga centers hope to see their regular members back to practice by complying with the guidelines to stay fit and healthy..