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Delhi unlock: Gymnasiums gear up to open; many yoga institutes prefer to stay online for now

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Apprehensive about a possible third Covid wave, owners of many yoga institutes in the national capital said they prefer to continue conducting their classes in the online mode for some more time despite the Delhi government allowing them to operate in-person from Monday.

Gymnasiums, on the other hand, have geared up to reopen with 50 per cent capacity with several of them starting the sanitization process at their facilities and even offering special discounts for customers vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Delhi government on Saturday allowed weddings at banquet, marriage halls and hotels with 50 people in attendance, and reopening of gyms and yoga centres at 50 per cent capacity under the phased unlock process initiated with an improvement in the city’s COVID-19 situation.

Neha Vasisht, the founder of Yoga Guru which has several centres across the city, said she is hopeful about starting her classes physically gradually but for now she prefers to operate only at complexes where she can conduct classes in open spaces.

“We also have a studio in DLF mall but we are not planning to open it anytime soon. We are planning to conduct classes only at places where we have open spaces and maintain Covid guidelines with social distancing norms,” she said.

Dhirendra Singh of Navadha Yoga Health Care Institute in Malviya Nagar says his centre remained closed amid the pandemic for over a year and it was operational for hardly two months this year. However, when the second Covid wave hit the city in April, he got back with his online classes.

When asked if he was planning to re-open his centre from Monday, he said, “I am not planning to open the centre for now. There has been heavy losses in business but we have are online yoga sessions. Even though many of our old members have left the session midway, there are still many who continued with their classes.”

Neelam Kala, who runs Yogsaarthi at Lajpat Nagar said she prefers to continue with her online yoga sessions for some more time till the situation gets back to normal.

“I am planning to continue with my online yoga sessions for now. Business losses is part of life and amid the second wave, I had stopped talking physical classes at my centre. Instead I resumed with online classes. Many who were uncomfortable with online mode chose to discontinue.

“But we still do not know how the third wave might hit us so I will wait and see how the situation pans out. Depending on the situation, I would take a call on whether to restart the classes in-person at the centre. But for now I have not got any calls asking for it as many of the customers seem quite satisfied with the online yoga sessions,” she said.

On the other hand, gymnasium owners said although they have suffered losses, they are gearing up to open their facilities from Monday.

Chirag Sethi, vice-president of Delhi Gym Association, said the industry has suffered huge losses as gyms were closed for almost eight months in the last one year.

“There was no income during this period but still the gym owners had to pay their rent in addition to the fixed electricity and water bills besides helping the staff. This industry has been going through a tough phase.

“The gym owners do not have any financial support and there is hardly any government scheme. These frequent lockdowns have had a negative impact on the industry. Many gyms have already shut and many are contemplating whether they should continue in the industry,” Sethi, who owns three gyms in the city, said.

Survival becomes tough if gyms are closed for months every year, he said, adding there is a huge burden on the owners currently.

As he gears up to begin operations at his gyms from Monday, he said, “Sanitisation process has begun, machines are being checked. We have reduced 20 per cent staff and only vaccinated staff have been given preference. Vaccinated members can also avail special discount offers on their new packages.”

He said he got at least 25 calls since morning from members enquiring if gyms will re-open from tomorrow. “We have got a positive response from people. This shows they are interested in getting back,” he said.

Sunil Kumar Taank, president of Indian Gym’s Welfare Federation, however was not not much hopeful as he was apprehensive about delta plus variant of cornavirus and possibility of a third wave.

“Gyms are restarting but we don’t have much faith on whether we will be able to carry out business like before with these frequent lockdowns. Now again, we read about delta plus variant and then a possible third wave.

“Business has been crushed completely. There is no guarantee that customers would walk-in like before. We have begun the sanitisation process and are ready for opening tomorrow with 50 per cent capacity keeping in mind all the Covid protocol,” he said.

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