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Focus on fitness in City Beautiful

Pankaj Dhiman | Chandigarh |

Fitness freaks in the City Beautiful can make use of gyms without paying a fee as nearly 10 new open air gymnasiums have become functional in Chandigarh.

Chandigarh is the latest after Mysore, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar and Pune where the open air gym concept is gaining popularity.

Encouraged by the overwhelming response from the city’s residents to these open gyms, the Municipal Corporation Chandigarh (MCC) has prepared a road-map to come up with a similar initiative in other sectors also.

At present, the open air gyms have been established in the city’s prominent green belts like Fragrance Garden in Sector 36, Mini Rose Garden in Sector 24 and Sectors 8, 16, 20, 27, 32 and 46.

Additionally, the residents of Sectors 37, 38, 47 and 48 will find a similar facility soon as work for setting up open air gyms is in process.

Chandigarh Mayor Asha Kumari Jaswal told The Statesman that MCC’s aim is to provide open-air gyms in each and every big park to facilitate the local residents.

She said the MCC is also in the process of installing open-air gyms in green belts and parks in different areas. The civic body plans to install fitness equipment in all sectors of the city in a phased manner. There are a total of 56 sectors in Chandigarh that have been further divided into four parts. “We are working to set up open air gyms in the left out sectors. Keeping in view the health of the local residents the MCC is making efforts to provide the best possible facilities and infrastructure at their doorstep,” Jaswal said.

MCC’s horticulture department officials said the cost to set up an open air gym is around Rs 6 lakh including the provision of latest equipment, such as push-chair, sub-board functions, spacewalker, seated pedal trainer, wab board, elliptical cross trainer, parallel bars, riding trainer and stepper.

“In the first phase, the MCC has set up open-air gyms at around 10 locations by installing 10 non-electrical fitness machines at each location at a cost of around Rs 60 lakh. The facility is open to residents free of cost,” said MCC Executive Engineer, Horticulture, KP Singh. He said, the project of open air gym is just six months old in Chandigarh.

The civic body has also decided to install gyms in all the community centres. At present, there are around 45 community centres located in different sectors of the city. For using the gyms there, the residents will have to pay a nominal fee.

“It is a welcome step that the people can use the facility free of cost which will keep them healthy. Other sectors should also be covered soon. Maintenance of these open-air gyms will be a major concern. A clause for five year maintenance should be included in the tender before allotting it to a particular company,” said Baljinder Singh, chairman of Federation of Sector Welfare Association of Chandigarh (FOSWAC).

Interestingly, on 12 December, the civic body opened the first women’s gym at a cost of Rs 12.50 lakh with the latest equipment at Mahila Bhawan in Sector 38. An official said the gym would be operated by a woman gym trainer and Rs 500 would be the three-month membership fee of the gym. Health experts said exercising in the open lush green areas is not only good for lungs, heart and body but it also rejuvenates the mind.

“Many people might find gyms very cumbersome, but need something which can be accessed anytime according to their convenience. The step to introduce more open-air gyms in the city is a great initiative,” said Puneet Bansal, a Chandigarh-based heath expert. Two neighbouring cities of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali, have also initiated a similar concept after seeing the encouraging response from residents in Chandigarh.

In Mohali also, two open air gyms have been inaugurated recently for the general public in Phase 8 and Sector 70 respectively.

In Panchkula, work is on to set up open-air gyms in various locations. The project, which is in the pipeline, will have multiple gym equipment in the park, including treadmill, leg-shaper, ab-shaper, twister and shoulder press, among others. All the machines will be manual, so no electricity will be used to operate them, said a source in the Panchkula administration.