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Thrifty city at no-frills gyms

This year there’s one difference, though — we are in the middle of an economic recession, which makes memberships at expensive gyms dearer than ever, reports Vidya Balachander.

india Updated: Jan 29, 2009 14:19 IST
Vidya Balachander

Some New Year resolutions don’t change, and following a regular exercise regimen is usually one of them.

This year there’s one difference, though — we are in the middle of an economic recession, which makes memberships at expensive gyms dearer than ever.

When Sandesh Shukla, a lawyer who works at Nariman Point decided to join a gym close to his workplace recently, he explored his options and settled for a no-frills gym at Mantralaya. “You have to shell out a huge sum of money for the larger gyms in this area,” he said. He opted for Sachivalaya Gymkhana, a no-frills gym close to Mantralaya. “I won’t say the equipment here is as good as in a larger gym, but it is reasonably good,” Shukla said.

Like Shukla, there are many Mumbaiites who are switching to less expensive, local gyms. Shradha Joshi, a banker who lives in Thane, is a firm believer in the virtues of the small, local gym she joined last year from an international gym chain. She frequents a ladies’ gym maintained by the Saraswati Senior Secondary High School in Thane.

The gym is not much more than a room with minimal equipment but Joshi is not complaining. “I’m proud to say that I’ve lost 10 kg after joining here,” she said. She doesn’t miss the creature comforts of a large chain. “Bigger gyms provide you more facilities like air-conditioning but it makes no difference,” she said. “This is like a family affair.”

Though the managements of the gym chains we spoke to denied that memberships had fallen drastically, some of those gyms are offering discounts to draw people in.

For instance, the Talwalkar’s chain, which normally offers discounts in July and August, has introduced discounted rates during off-peak or, what they call, “happy hours”.

Dr Vibha Nanabhai, head of corporate sales for Talwalkar’s, hopes the scheme will revive flagging corporate memberships. “We are not directly affected by the recession but corporate tie-ups have reduced,” she said. “To attract corporates, we are encouraging bulk admissions during happy hours.”

Discount or no discount, the good news is that you don’t necessarily have to pay a premium to stay fit. If basic fitness is what you’re running after, you can fall back on smaller, cheaper but equally effective options.