Health: Pama, 70, lives in Chamkhar town, Bumthang. He could not climb stairs; he even could not walk properly for last few years. He had severe knee pain.

Pema went to Wangdicholing hospital and he was advised to do some physical exercises. But that wasn’t easy for him. He could barely lift himself up.

“All I did was sit at home, bearing the pain and taking medicines,” he said. But then, he tried, inch by inch everyday. And that has made all the difference.

Today, for Pema, walking and climbing stairs is not a problem. This is because of the open-air gym facility that was installed last month at children’s park in Chamkhar town. Although old, Pema can do 10 of sit up straight. “Doing sit up for more than 10 times caused side pain,” Pema said, toothless and wheezing.

Pema goes to different gym equipment at the park and does the round thrice a day at least. He has all the advantages. The gym isn’t very far from where he lives, just a couple of steps away. Pema makes point to use all the six gym equipment, once every morning, afternoon and evening.

With an unrestrained grin said Pema: “I have gained stamina. “It was difficult in the beginning and I got tired too soon. Not anymore.”

Pema said he leant how to sit and pedal on gym equipment by looking at how others were doing it.

Like Pema, Yangzom, 70, is also one of the regular elderly persons who come to the gym. She said the equipment is very useful especially for elderly people who cannot run or walk for long. “It’s good that we can sit and exercise,” she said.

Yangzom also suffered knee ache. She went to Tshachu (hot spring), but that did not help. Now her knees pain has subsided by much. “I come here thrice a day,” said Yangzom.

One of the officials who coordinated installation of gym, Thinley Zangpo, said the equipment cost Nu. 0.7 million. Private companies also helped install the equipment by providing sand and other construction materials.

The out door gym was inaugurated on March 16.

Nima Wangdi | Bumthang