There are no handles on the shoulder press machine, the seat of leg press equipment has come off, some are rusting on the ground. This is the condition of most of the capital’s outdoor gyms today.
The government established ten outdoor gym facilities in the capital in 2015 to combat non-communicable diseases and to promote a healthy lifestyle.
However, many of these facilities are non-functional. Many are in dire need of maintenance.
The gyms are located in Changjiji, Babesa, Kuenselphodrang, Motithang, Sangaygang,Taba, and Dechencholing.
Nine gyms are under the ownership of thromde. The one at Changjiji is being looked after by the National Housing Development Corporation Limited.
Many say that timely maintenance and extra responsibility from the people would ensure easy upkeep of the gyms.
Today, there are no inspectors at the gym locations; there is also not a single signboard to educate people on how to use the facility.
An official from the Department of Youth and Sports (DYS) said the idea of the open gym is good. Such facilities are popular in many other countries where people exercise regularly.
Technically, the open-air gyms are for adults, and there should be proper instruction near the site on their usage, a DYS official said, adding that the culture of exercise should begin from schools from an early age. “The government should start such facilities in schools.”
I have been to many outdoor gym sites in Thimphu, Bumthang, Phuntsholing and Gelephu; the quality of equipment is good, a user of outdoor gym said, adding that people should use them properly.
Since the inception of gym facilities, thromde carried out maintenance work only twice, as per officials.
Thromde’s health officer, Kinga Gyeltshen, said that the thromde would address the issue and a separate budget was allocated in the fiscal year (2021-2022) for the maintenance.
“At least two or three equipment in each site have become dysfunctional. Thromde is in the process of exploring a good welder to do the maintenance before the end of this year,” he said.
Kinga Gyeltshen said that the timely maintenance by the thromde alone cannot address the issue if the users don’t co-operate.
Edited by Jigme Wangchuk