The Uganda Bodybuilding and Fitness Association (UBBFA) has appealed to the government to reopen gyms because most bodybuilders, who depend on such places for survival have been starved for long enough.
“Most of our athletes used to work in these gyms as fitness trainers, instructors or coaches but the long lockdown has badly affected their earnings, and we were concerned that the President in his recent address didn’t mention anything about reopening gyms,” UBBFA president Twaha Ddungu told journalists in Kampala at the weekend.
In last week’s addresses about the state of Covid-19 in the country, President Museveni said sports and tourism, which belong to the leisure economy, can wait after all “they are optional.”
However, last month he allowed local tourism to resume, which gave some hope to sports.
But on Tuesday, he did not mention anything sports, even after stakeholders drafted guidelines to sway government to gradually allow sports back on the menu.
Committing to SOPs
UBBFA said it does not just demand for release but also committed itself on following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) set by the Health ministry to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, for which the gyms have been locked since March 18.
“We will ensure that every gym has sanitisers, a temperature monitor, and handles fewer clients at a time, to respect social-distancing,” said general secretary Joseph Nkoyoyo, before teaming up with his boss to demonstrate the gym operators’ preparedness toward implementing the SOPs.
As the pair allowed the few bodybuilders who attended the event to enter the gym while wearing masks, they sanitised their hands, subjected them to temperature tests using the gun, and ensured they were well spaced.
“Every after the machines and bathrooms have been used, they must be sanitised,” Ddungu said.
Instructor Robert Odhiambo said usually his aerobics session entertained 45 clients for 45 minutes.
“Now I have to take 10 at a time, which means instead of the usual two sessions per day, I shall have to adjust to about six per day,” he said. “It’s less but far better than sitting home as bills bulge.”
He added that classes, will now be held outside the gym.
As Museveni allowed some of the arcades in the city to reopen, he prohibited the use of air conditioners, which precipitate the spread of the coronavirus.
“Obviously, gyms don’t use air conditioners and already had record books for security purposes,” Ddungu added. “Now the same books can serve the security and health purposes.”