Fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders, power-lifters and especially the gym owners were delighted by the CMs announcement about the green signal for gymnasiums to open from June 1st. The CM announced this in a high-level meeting with the State Level Task Force on May 30th.  Gyms will be able to function with strict social distancing, limited entries and timing, was what the CM announced. Their happiness didn’t last long as on May 31st it was announced via a corrigendum to order Number 11 of the Home Department dated the same day that Gymnasiums would not be allowed to re-open. 

The Sikkim State Bodybuilding Association had been appealing since March for lockdown relaxation for gyms, given that the association would make sure strict protocols would be maintained. Their appeals saw fruition in May when the idea was entertained by the CM and was implemented shortly after. The sudden corrigendum of the notification that still made sure that the gyms would still be allowed to function harmed fitness enthusiast, et al, all over the state. 

“The government should have a reason to do this, which I for one cannot fathom. I was so happy that I would finally get to press some iron instead of the water canisters at home, I hope this is just a 15-day trial thing like the inter-district ban on vehicle movements. I know this is particularly hard for the gym owners because the owner of my gym said to me that it feels like a heavyweight had shed after this decision, that weight is back upon him,” says Biren, a gym instructor from South Sikkim.

The pandemic, the lockdown that followed, and the economic distress that tagged along have distressed all sections of society and every spectrum of income models. Fitness studios and Gymnasiums are one the few whose handling associations had been relentlessly appealing for relaxations.

“Had there been no response, it would just be disappointing, but assurance followed by denial has made us jump without the safety nets,” Biren adds.

Arun Gurung, General Secretary of Sikkim State Bodybuilding Association and the proprietor of Fit Sikkim Health and Fitness Centre, Gangtok informs that the association had already been appealing with the help of petitions and written requests for re-opening. 

“Based on our applications, the Hon’ble CM had already given us the green light to re-open and then declared in the high-level meeting that it was confirmed. All we had to do was follow strict protocols, which we were ready to do. Then the corrigendum was issued, due to which we couldn’t open the gyms on 1st,” says Arun.

“I had already sent a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) to all the members of our associations laying the protocols like not more than 6 persons should be allowed in the gym, sanitisers and towels to be monitored strictly, maintaining social distance etc. I had sent it to all the gyms on the 31st, the SOP was sent through WhatsApp.”

“Everyone was excited and the trainers who had gone to their villages were also back. Every gym had started cleaning and sanitising their gyms excited that they would be opening the next day. The evening’s corrigendum was not only disappointing but hit us sentimentally,” adds Arun informing about the hurt sentiments of the gym owners.

Arun, on behalf, of all the gym fraternity of Sikkim, informs Sikkim Chronicle that even if the decision is given, him on behalf of all the Iron Gyms in Sikkim including lifters, humbly appeals to the government because the fraternity would maintain all the strict protocols, that gyms be allowed to open.

Kalzang Gyatso, the owner of Bodyzone Gym says, “I have nothing much to say about the notification because it might be to rectify something. Some people’s businesses are being hampered and some people’ health, if they’d let us open it would be good as much as I know.”

“There’s no difference in Schools and Gyms, but as far as it can be reasoned with, the social distancing in schools would be harder to maintain than in Gym. Fitness is essential in this period right now, people have become unfit, and this also boosts immunity. Domestic violence would also probably go down if they let us function because the markets are open, hotels have started functioning, schools are to be reopened, so I don’t think Gyms would do much harm here,” he adds.

“The main thing is, the people who have decided to launch start-ups and associations in this avenue, the people who have based a living out of this, and they have been hit the hardest. Looking from a public POV immunity is what the public needs right now, and gyms can be of major assistance.”

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