Neten Dorji | Trashigang

As dusk descends on the quiet Trashigang town, Dorji Dema and her friends, all physical exercise enthusiasts, gather at the open-air gym below the road between the hospital and town. Some are already at the gym.

Within minutes on the cross trainers, they sweat. This has become their regular routine.

For the likes of Dorji Dema, the facility has proved a good remedy to get rid of aches in the back and knees after an hour-long exercise at the gym every day.

She said the frequent visit to the gym has helped her both physically and mentally. “It helps me to control blood sugar level and the pain in the knee has subsided,” said the 49-year-old.

She said that most of the residents are becoming health-conscious and the gym has helped them promote a healthy lifestyle among people.

The open-air gym, set up two years ago, is drawing a good response among the residents.

Like Dorji Dema, Karma Uden hits the gym whenever she has time.

“I come here twice a day since I have gained weight. It helps me keep my body fit,” she said.

For many like Karma, the gym has come as a blessing. Easy and free access to the gym could encourage other residents to exercise, she said. The residents make use of the facility mostly in the evening and after office hours.

A regular gym-goer, Sangay Dorji said that the open-air gym gives him full body exercises.

“It helps a lot to those who are post-ortho surgery patients, but one must be a regular,” he said. “In the beginning, I have to wait for my turn. Now I do not see many like before.”

It is not just the middle-aged or youngsters, the senior citizens are also at the gym.

Lobzang Dorji, 65, who lives in Trashigang town, could not walk properly for the past few years due to a stroke. He had severe knee pain. Lobzang went to the hospital and he was advised to do some physical exercises. But that wasn’t easy.

“I tried to exercise inch by inch. And that has helped me walk again,” Lobzang, who can walk without any assistance, said.