COVID-19 outbreak | 23 March 2020
Huge blow to local sports-related businesses
Local fitness fanatics have to find new ways to work out following the closure of gyms as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus on the advice of the department of health to avoid large public gatherings, including sports and fitness activities.
While working out is often seen as a great way to de-stress at the end of the day and a good way to keep your immune system in tip-top shape, many local gyms have reached out to their members to tell them the extra preventive steps they are taking, with most of them closing down until further notice.
Gym is considered as one of the places where a person can easily pick up other people’s germs as it is often crowded with many of the surfaces – from free weights to the controls on a treadmill – that are touched a lot.
While the prompt action to lock down local gyms focuses on the containment of the coronavirus (COVID-19), we should also not ignore the loss of earning on the part of the owners who depend on their businesses, mainly membership fees, for their livelihood and also how it affects their employees.
Parallel to going to the gym, a lot of people take sports supplements hoping for a range of health benefits, from weight loss to muscle building, therefore sports supplements have become increasingly popular among gym-goers.
With most of the local gyms on lockdown, the local suppliers of sports supplements are also finding themselves in a difficult situation, while some stores are already under lock and key, providing delivery services only.
The lockdown is also affecting people who use the gym on a professional basis such as bodybuilding for an income.
In other words, they earn their primary income from bodybuilding.
Since last Monday, locally, all sports activities have been cancelled as part of the safety precautions in line with the to-do list of the department of health regarding the COVID-19, suspending the use of all the National Sports Council (NSC)-administered venues and facilities.
Following the situation very closely, Sports NATION contacted some of the business owners to see how they are coping with the actual situation, including International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) elite pro bodybuilder Ziad Mekdachi.
Regis Delorié – Animal Kingdom Gym: “As a businessman who is self-dependent you lose income.
“It also affects clients who keep calling since the gym is like a medicine to them, especially for those who train every day. The gym is part of their lifestyle. I however try to explain to them that the actual situation is beyond our control.
“As for the Regis Delorié Classic, it has not been postponed yet and we are still sticking to stage it by the end of June as planned.
“But, we however have to wait on the outcome of the current situation before further decisions can be taken.It totally depends on how the situation goes and since this is our livelihood, we are hoping that things get better soon.Although it might be slow, it will surely get better.”
Michael Etienne – Tropical Heat Fitness Gym: “Firstly it was on Tuesday March 17 that I decided to close down the gym, using the last day of training as an opportunity to inform members who are not on social media.
“To be honest, I received positive feedback from positive clients who felt that I was making the right decision. My decision to shut down the gym and business itself is simple. Since I consider myself as a gym owner, personal trainer and instructor, I feel that it is my duty to keep people fit by promoting fitness and healthy living. So, if I believe in this business then I should also know when people's life is at risk. Nobody ever expected that one day one would have to avoid the gym to stay healthy and like I said, if you consider yourself a professional in such a business you should notice when danger is close.
“Gyms are places where any virus can spread easily and fast, and it is sad to see that not everyone takes notice of it, but instead, people are taking it for granted. “As a business, the situation is surely affecting me. When you shut down your doors of income and still you have to pay your bills at the end of month, you can imagine removing water from your tank, with the main resources shut down.
“It is a world disaster at this moment in time, and for me personally, money is nothing without health. As a businessman, in time like these, I think we should concentrate more on our priorities. Clients are complaining about when the gym is going to re-open and this, for me, clearly shows that many people who consider themselves fit physically are mentally unfit, in regards to their behaviour during a state of emergency. But, I should also add that once back in business, things can change. For example the gym membership could go higher or, special package could stop, with everyone paying the same price. But, again, it will all depend on how fast we recover if ever we do. As you can see, the situation is very critical and one cannot say right now who is going to benefit or not, as the impact is still ongoing. We should all expect the unexpected.”
Barnsley Antat – Musclemindz Fitness Store: “Since we have had the COVID-19 issue, sales have gone down and to make matters worse all the gyms are now closed.
“Only customers brave enough to come down town and the regulars are helping us to get by.
“It has been a hard blow especially with staff salaries and also our fitness centre which was set to open at the end of April and is now on hold.
“The pandemic being something we were not expecting, we were not prepared for such a situation and now we find ourselves with a lot of unplanned expenses and overheads to pay, with little sales coming in. We do not wish for such but shall it be the case then we are hoping that we get some help from the government to stay afloat, at least to pay for expenses like staff salaries, until things get better. We are trying to seek some kind of permission to do delivery in case of a complete lockdown. We are also selling through our website and social media page.”
Ziad Mekdachi – International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) elite pro bodybuilder: “With the new virus outbreak that is affecting almost every nation around the globe I find myself in an unusual and unprecedented situation. I have been informed that all international and national sports contests have been postponed until further notice.
“It has been almost a week now that I am coping with this using my self-motivation to minimise the effect that this could impose on me as a bodybuilder. “I am carrying on with my morning cardio every day to keep my metabolism and heart rate as usual, as well as home body weight exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, abdominal exercises. I will say that it is not the perfect and sufficient remedies but as a pro bodybuilder I am used to challenges and I will be fine. “Finally I want to pray for our Seychelles and for God Almighty to save us and defeat this disease very soon.”
Roxy Athanase – Healthyway Nutrition Shop: “All was going well and suddenly came the announcement of the COVID-19 throwing the business downhill. It is often said that the world is a global village and with no doubt the vicious virus has proved that to be true.
“Gyms where the first places to close their doors and the announcement directly hit my business which deals mainly with sports supplement and other health products for the fitness enthusiasts.
“On a daily basis many individuals would come for the pre-workouts formulas, protein powders and weight gainers formulas, amino tablet fat burners and following the pandemic, I guess the focus has shifted more towards staying alive and more towards the family, while buying food became the priority. Now with gyms closed, the demand for supplements is gone. That also goes for gym clothes and other accessories.
“Many of such businesses which have closed their doors are in an uncertainty state, not knowing when they will reopen, or if they ever will. Now, I think that the priority for everyone is staying healthy. I must admit it is a scary moment. Every business interlinks and when one goes down, the others will follow.
For now Healthyway Nutrition Shop is doing delivery all across Mahé free of charge.”