The other day, while I was walking down to the gym to get my membership renewed, I noticed many different kinds of people—when I say different kinds I mean with respect to shapes and sizes. This got me thinking—India has a population of near 1.25 billion and Delhi alone has close to 16 million. Yet the majority of our population are not at the optimum “fitness level” often falling above, or below it. In order to increase nation’s productivity, it is necessary to have Healthy Human Capital.
Now, the problem isn’t that we don’t have gyms. It is a manifold problem. Gyms are few, they are too expensive to afford, there is too high a population and very little incentive to hit the gym.
Two years of practicing gym have made me an authority on the subject, and I am going to propose a few solutions. I propose the creation of a new government organization ‘Gym Education and Regulation Authority of India’ (for simplicity, let’s call it ‘GEAR India’) for a healthy life. GEAR India will mandate the norms to define healthy and unhealthy, fit and unfit, marginally fit and marginally unfit people.
Based on this, let us define their other roles briefly and then we all will lobby. Since I am based in Delhi, my evidence will be Delhi-based. Implementation, however, will be pan-India, since this is how all our policies are formed anyway.
Role 1: Declare Work Outs an Essential Commodity
GEAR India should declare work outs (and not ‘Home Work Out’), but Gym Work Outs as an essential commodity. Who doesn’t want a nice and well-toned, fit and attractive body? It is biologically proven that if you’re healthy you live long and you will live a happy life. Gym should come under Essential Commodities Act, 1955. “The Act provides for the regulation and control of production, distribution and pricing of commodities which are declared as essential for maintaining or increasing supplies or for securing their equitable distribution and availability at fair prices”.
Role 2: Set a Neighborhood Criteria
There must be one gym at every 1 km distance, so that it is within the reach of every common man and easily accessible.
Role 3: Regulate Pricing
It is simply unfair that different places in Delhi have different prices. On an average the price of gym membership varies from Rs 500-5000 per month. I can’t afford expensive gyms, so I pay Rs 2000/month, though I also have aspirations to join the higher-end Fitness First like gyms. Currently, the solution is that I go and ask my boss for more money, which I may or may not get. It would be better if GEAR India helped me by regulating the price and capping it at a level that is more accessible. This will make the gym affordable and Aam Aadmi (common-man)-centric. Once we announce this commodity as an ‘essential’, we don’t need to worry at all. This is not a new practice for the Government of India.
Role 4: Follow an Incentive-Based Approach
Incentives are that all we need, be it for education or for going to the gym. Though inside a gym you have a very different kinds of incentive/motivation. Aside from a well maintained gym, we also need well maintained individuals in the gym. GEAR India will ensure there are enough fit people in every gym at any point of time. This will ensure equitable distribution. It is not just unfair but immoral and unethical that some gym have healthier, better-looking people and while others have none. This organization will come up with some system such that every gym will have the same amount of ‘Motivation’ and that is how we all will grow together—an inclusive growth gym system. Whatever kind of body you’re aspiring to have you need protein shakes and hence GEAR India will provide you free shakes under the scheme ‘Mid-Day Shakes Seva’.
Role 5: Implement a Strong Reservation Policy
As I stated earlier, there are people who fall above and below optimum levels of fitness. Yet they cannot afford gym because they spend money only on food (or something else). GEAR India will ensure that there is 25% reservation for people who belongs to UFS (Unfit Section), failure to do this might result in shutting down of your gym.
By now, you might have figured that government will be subsidizing the pricing so that it becomes affordable. The way to do this is to add 2% gym tax. We must also tax the rich more because they can afford it, so they will pay 5%.
If we follow these suggested steps, I am sure that we will reach closer to eradicating unhealthy human capital in India.
What about freedom?
Some naïve people will complain that this new GEAR India will curtail our freedom. But we have to consider the greater good. What kind of social animal are we, if we cannot take care of our unhealthy population?
As Julian Adorney said in an article for The Freeman, freedom is tolerable when exercised in ways that serve society, but its excesses must be curbed to prevent its exercise in antisocial ways. The noble people need attractive and healthy bodies. If that means a little less independence for everyone, then be it.
The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.