Choki Wangmo | Dagana

For Yam Bdhr Monger,31, it took a pandemic to pick-up his long-lost passion.

The former accountant with one of the tour operators in Thimphu is now a proud owner of the only gym in Lhamoidzingkha, Dagana.

Not even a month after opening the facility, the gym located a few minutes’ drive towards Lhamoidzingkha-Chukha highway, is a happening place in the area.

The tiny one-storey facility has two rooms filled with all the necessary equipment. On the other side of the room, his wife, Sarita Monger, runs the town’s only café.

As healthy diet needs to accompany training, the café serves protein shakes and provides protein-based meals.

A bike and a gym enthusiast, Yam Bdhr, said that while working in his former job for two years, he lost track of his training and was engaged in unhealthy habits. “I used to frequent gyms but did not train for six years since 2015.”

“While reclaiming my interest, I thought such facilities in the town would help young people rethink their lifestyles, giving them a healthy space to hang out,” he said.

He said that the pandemic had made him realise that young people can create opportunities back in their areas rather than rushing to towns seeking better opportunities. “I was critical as it was the first venture in the town.”

The oldest town in the country still in the development phase without much recreational facilities around.

By 6pm, the place is brimming with people. Within a few weeks, the gym has recorded 22 registered members, mostly local residents.

Kelden Dorji Sherpa, 22, is a daily user of the service. A college student, when he does not have online classes is seen training hard at the gym, like a professional. “I was excited and registered as a member as soon as it opened.”

Every day, he dedicates three hours to his training—mornings are for cardio and evenings for resistance.

“I always wished for such services in our town. I feel motivated, strong, and am beginning to develop positive body image. I now have a better sleep schedule and habits,” said Kelden.

He plans to continue his membership at the gym.

Yam Bdhr trains his clients.

A civil servant and a registered member at the gym, Singye Dorji, said that there were no places to exercise in the town. “I want to reduce my weight. With training, in the last two weeks, I lost 3.5kg. My body doesn’t feel heavy and I don’t binge on fast foods. Even my sleep schedule is better.”

Another client, Menuka Waklay, is also training to lose her weight. “Within a few weeks, I observed some changes. For the last two years, we had been seeking such services in the town. Finally, it materialised and we are happy.’

Yam Bdhr set up the facility at a cost of Nu 950,000.