16 September 2020
The gym culture has become popular in Myanmar starting around 2013 and 2014. Though it can’t be said that it is the peak period of fitness industry but a fitness center can be easily seen in every corner of the street in Yangon during recent years.
Since the pandemic has entered into Myanmar, the government introduced the restrictions effectively to close many businesses. But in the first week of June, some businesses including the fitness centers are permitted to reopen as there were no local transmissions for a while. But the rate of local transmissions have resurged again during August, many fitness centers have shut down their operation.
Speaking to MI Radio, Ma Khine Myat Mon, a gym enthusiast, shared her opinion on the fitness sector right now, “The gym I used to go has been closed for two months in the early occurrence of the coronavirus. When the situations were a bit stable in June and July, the gym also reopened. But shortly after that, the gyms were closed again and we don’t know when they will reopen. I think the operation of the fitness center in this situation is a bit risky because most of the gyms are closed indoor. I appreciate the online classes served by the gyms. But for me, it is different in effectiveness for me playing at the gym and watching the demonstration contents and trying to do like that. Personally, I prefer doing the physical exercises in gym rather than trying at home with a demo-video.”
Despite the closure of the gyms, Training Ground Myanmar, one of the premium class gyms in the fitness industry of Yangon, is still opening their operation except the group fitness classes. Jonathan Austria, assistant general manager of Training Ground Myanmar, has 16 years of experience also as a trainer and a manager in the fitness industry. He told MI Radio about the operation of a fitness center amid the pandemic, “The government doesn’t announce yet to close the gym. Our opening is not meant for our business but for the health of the people. If the government comes and asks me to close, it is a rule and we will close with no problem. But, as long, we are giving hope to other fitness center that there is a solution in even any kind of situation. To give the hope for the fitness industry, we can manage and operate the gym in this kind of situation. It will create a positive energy to decide to reopen.
We try to operate the gym with the safety measures. We clean all the equipment every hour. We have measured all the people coming to the gym. But the situation is also very risky. We prepared the travel history form on the reception. So, we can find out if there is one emergency case came up to our gym. We provide that kind of way. We decide to open the gym so we decide to measure the safety of our staff. We make sure to pick up with our own service. So, they don’t need to worry or provide about transportation. We also educate the staff not to go anywhere else home and work. And the staffs also fill up the travel history and clean up and put their things into the lockers before start working and same things for our customers. We make sure that our facilities to be cleaned. We are trying to sanitize every hour in each area.”
After the early occurrence of COVID-19, the people get concerned more to get healthy and strong. So, the sales were good in June and July in the fitness industry. But in August and September, the sales went down to the 30 percent of target.
Andy Willian Haung, also k nown as Andy, is standing as a celebrity trainer and television personality in the fitness industry in Myanmar since 2013. He spoke to MI Radio how the pandemic transform the stakeholders in the fitness industry, “I’ve been closing my training since March. It’s been a long time. We all know that in this pandemic, to prevent the COVID-19, we need to balance our immune system. So, fitness becomes an essential part of everybody lives. During this pandemic time, the gyms need to close and the gym owner can’t hold the trainers. And the owners have to give the salaries if they hold the trainers. Most of the small gyms are shutting down and they couldn’t do anything.
I think that the pandemic change a lot of businesses especially in fitness industry. The fitness centers need to be closed and on the other hand people need to do exercise and work out. So, we are switching to the digital platform by using Facebook Lives and Zoom meeting to watch your training. After the pandemic, people will understand the importance of fitness more. So, fitness industry is very good for future but we need to do thin line between how to do business and to give the people a profit and healthy life style. But right now, the best way is to stay home when you go out wear masks.”
So, it is really hard but the fitness industry will be successful a lot because the people understand how healthy is important than other things. So, the fitness industry will succeed after this, according to Jonathan.