Haveeru reported on 25 August 2015 that the Youth Gym at the Male’ Social Center will be temporarily closed to make way for an imminent public works project. It is however unclear exactly how long the Gym will be closed.
This project is anticipated to transform the west side of Male’ into recreation area with an artificial beach.
The Youth Gym is a direct government initiative of the late 1990s, when the then Sports Ministry decided to develop a gym for members who registered themselves as youth volunteers at the Male’ Youth Center. The elaborate building with its multi-purpose sports hall and an administrative wing is a present from the Japanese government to the Maldives from the early 1980s.
There were already a few commercially driven fitness centers operating in Male’ when the Youth Gym opened. Male’ Fitness Club itself had been operating since 1989. A Gym by the name of Muscle Load opened shortly after. This was followed by another Gym operated by Sheri. Both Muscle Load and Sheri have since closed.
The issue of the government running a gym was controversial even at the time. The argument was that, during a time when private enterprise was struggling for commercial sustainability, the government running gyms on a similar model would be unfair competition. Efforts by gym owners to associate did not gain much traction at the time. The situation remains more or less the same, regardless of the fact that Male’ has seen the growth of successful Gyms such as Heat Health & Fitness and TfG over the last decade.