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Fitness sector struggles to stay afloat

By Maria Weldali - Nov 23,2020 - Last updated at Nov 23,2020

AMMAN — Representatives of the fitness industry have painted a grim picture of the sector’s future, describing the whole coronavirus-induced situation as “the final lap before breakdown”.

“Fitness, training studios and centres were trying to pull through from the sector’s first closure at the onset of this unprecedented crisis, but with the second closure of Jordan’s sports industry, which started on November 2, all hopes were diminished”, Rima Amer, a sector representative, told The Jordan Times on Monday.

Amer, who is also a gym owner, added that nearly 10 per cent of fitness centres were put on sale during the first closure of the sector, which lasted about three months, noting that “the number of workout studios that will announce their closures will increase, particularly with such circumstances”.

Many gym owners are at the mercy of landlords, Amer said, noting that they are facing “serious challenges”, and the pandemic decimated the sector’s revenues, caused financial problems for both the employers and the employees, in addition to compounding the challenges.

“The fitness industry is on the brink of collapse and it needs true and prompt support,” Amer added.

There are fixed expenses, including staff salaries, electricity and water bills, as well as taxes and rental costs, “but the sector is closed and there is no income”, Amer stated, adding that with the closure of Jordan’s fitness industry, thousands of households’ incomes have been negatively impacted.

“The Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC) has officially taken up the industry’s issue, as it is the wider umbrella that fosters the Kingdom’s fitness sector,” Amer noted.  

Salma Ali, a Jordanian general manager at a fitness centre, told The Jordan Times that “the fitness and health sector is on the verge of collapse, and unless there is a true governmental backing, more closures will be witnessed in the nearest future”.

“The whole situation is gloomy and uncertain,” Ali said.

“The current struggles are emblematic of broader and deeper challenges, and the upcoming year will be even harder,” Ali said.

She also said that at first training centres’ owners were only aiming to remain afloat, but now it is uncertain if all of them would continue.

“We do not even know when the government will give us the green light to reopen, so it is possible that this situation will last for an extended period of time,” a personal trainer and fitness instructor, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The Jordan Times.

The instructor added that “a world devoid of training facilities and swimming pools is impossible, and no digital platforms or exercise applications would fill the void”.

According to a 2019 study conducted by the JOC, which was shared with The Jordan Times, Jordan’s fitness sector comprises more than 2,867 sports centres and academies, and it employs 26,276 individuals, contributing to some 1.3 per cent of GDP.

A total of JD67 million is the sector’s direct contribution to GDP, according to the JOC study.

The Jordan Times on Monday contacted JOC’s Spokesperson Zaid Sarayrah, who said that the committee would publish its detailed study regarding Jordan’s fitness industry over the upcoming week.  

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