Help fitness sector call by gym owners

GYM owners have issued an urgent appeal to help rescue the fitness sector, hit hard by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

About 40 gym owners have called for a mechanism under which landlords should adjust their rents on properties when the gyms are closed, or be flexible with rent payments.

The SOS comes after indoor gym and pools were closed from Sunday to February 20 due to the spike in Covid-19 cases.

Outdoor activities in private facilities are limited to 30 people.

“Gyms followed all precautionary measures as stipulated by authorities such as social distancing and ensuring all customers wear face masks,” said Bahrain Gym owners and sports hall federation head Abdulla Al Murbati.

“The spike in new Covid-19 cases were caused by gatherings, not gyms.”

Mr Al Murbati, who runs three gyms, said many owners were just starting to recover since the closure last year.

“Most of us are in debt and have to pay pending rents, with landlords demanding full money.”

Gyms and fitness studios were shut down in March last year, as part of a wide range of measures to combat the spread of Covid-19.

They reopened in August under strict guidelines.

“All safety measures were being taken yet we have been shut down; God forbid, if this is extended it will be a big blow to all of us,” added Mr Al Murbati.

“We urge Bahrain’s wise leadership to look at the gym and fitness sector which is facing a huge rental problem.”

Echoing the views, Flex Gym owner Saleh Al Ammar said landlords should adjust the monthly rents.

“The Covid-19 cases went up not because of people training in the gym, but because of large gatherings,” he told the GDN.

“We daily check the body temperature of our customers, sanitise equipment, ensure there is social distancing and hand sanitisers in place.”

He said gym owners were upset with the clamp on the fitness sector, at a time when staying fit was crucial.

“People were already hesitant to train due to the pandemic and now with this closure, it will affect not only our businesses but the well-being of the individual too.”

Another Bahraini gym owner said many clients were asking for their memberships to be adjusted due to the two-week closure, adding several gym operators had no other option but to compromise with the situation.

The GDN previously reported that a survey conducted by Malaeb, a Bahrain-based football community application, said the private sport industry was on the brink of a collapse due to Covid-19.

Responses from the sport and recreation industry showed that 85 per cent of sport facilities, including gyms, said the government subsidies had been insufficient to help them tide over the crisis.

It also estimated that the sport industry would require a rescue fund of between BD2 million and BD4m for three months if they were to survive.

The sectors included were sport clubs, gymnasiums, beauty salons, restaurants and cafés, training institutes, and travel and tourism offices.




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