Gym owners work out own guidelines in hope to open doors

The National Security Council’s (NSC) list of prohibited activities, including indoor sports, gymnasiums and contact sports, throughout the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) is quite clear.

However, gym operators are hoping that their pleas will be heard as they face increasing financial woes since the Movement Control Order started on March 18.

As many more businesses are struggling to stay afloat following the Covid-19 pandemic that crippled the economy, gym operators believe they are ready to open their doors while not risking the welfare of their staff and members.

S. Shananthan Gru, who runs a gym in Klang, hoped the authorities will consider their plight as they are already burdened with rental, utility bills and payment of wages.

“I request permission from the related authority to re-open gyms by implementing strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols,” said Shananthan.

“I believe most sectors have been allowed to operate with government SOPs and guidelines in place. Many gyms have already outlined policies to make their space safer for members when they reopen.”

He added many people are itching to return to their health routine and that operators are equally eager to welcome them back as soon as possible.

Kevin Luis, director of Anytime Fitness KL Gateway and Anytime Fitness UOA Bangsar, echoed the sentiments. Anytime Fitness is a 24-hour gym.

“Anytime Fitness is a franchise with over 5,000 outlets worldwide. As an operator of a franchise, this comes with a monthly fixed price tag. Having both of our outlets in prime areas comes with a cost and this is on top of the salaries which we continue to pay,” said Luis.

Shananthan and Luis proposed several SOPs so that they will be allowed to operate like most businesses since May 4.

The SOPs include:

  • limiting the operating hours.
  • single entry to the gym; the temperature of those who enter must be monitored by staff to ensure there are no symptoms of fever.
  • hand sanitisers to be provided at the entrance and at selected stations in the gym.
  • members must bring their own towels or they will not be able to enter.
    staff and those not working out must wear face masks.
  • floors marked to ensure the one-metre distance rule is applied.
  • no buddy workouts; group classes are limited to 10 people at one time.
  • limit the number of members in the gym.

“These are just some of the SOPs to help keep gyms safe at all times. We are open to any other SOPs, if required,” added Luis.

“I represent gym operators, regardless of the scale on which they operate (in saying this) … the damage we are facing is equal. We worry we will not be able to sustain much longer if this matter is not addressed soon.”

On May 4, veteran sports administrator Datuk Sieh Kok Chi told Twentytwo13 that private trainers are “victims” of Covid-19 and that they should find new ways to render their services.

The following day, Twentytwo13 highlighted how the gym business has been affected by the MCO. Following the two articles, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican told this news website that efforts are being made to address the plight of private trainers and gym operators.

However, earlier this week several gym operators claimed they will be operating soon after obtaining approval from the Ministry of Industry and International Trade (MITI).

The ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Lokman Hakim Ali, however, told Twentytwo13 on May 11 that the letter was merely an acknowledgement from the ministry that businesses would abide by the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of their respective sectors. The list of prohibited activities is drawn up by NSC and not MITI.

Beside gyms, Twentytwo13 learnt that even badminton and other indoor sports operators have started opening their doors.

Reezal, had in Twentytwo13‘s report yesterday, said those who resume business during the CMCO may receive a “friendly” visit from state Youth and Sports Department officers who will advise owners to close their centres.