Visakhapatnam

On the beach road to fitness with open gyms

People doing work out at an open gym on the beach road at sunrise in Visakhapatnam

People doing work out at an open gym on the beach road at sunrise in Visakhapatnam   | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

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Kick-started by the GVMC two years ago, the idea has metamorphosed into a movement as many denizens are keen to stay in shape

What started as a small initiative and a pilot project by the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) on the beach road in 2017 has today turned into a mass movement.

The response has been overhwelming with people from various walks are flooding the civic body with requests to install outdoor fitness equipment popularly known as open gym in their respective areas.

Shaking a leg

As a trial, the machines were installed at RK Beach, the most popular spot for revellers and tourists and Sculpture Park opposite Hotel Novotel which turned into a big hit. In 2018 itself various types of equipment were installed at 62 locations of 75 sanctioned so far, mostly parks in various colonies. Colonies were chosen in such a way where locals come forward to take care of upkeep of the equipment.

Today, it has become a movement of a different kind. People belonging to all walks of life are seen enjoying working out to burn their excess calories. "Health awareness has reached such an extent that many are loving using the gym in the open and inhaling pure oxygen amid lush-green surroundings," said Dr. Peda Somulu, president, VMRDA Health Arena.

Popular track

Health Arena, which stretches from Kailasagiri Ropeway point to Hanumantavaka Junction on the highway with a track of 3.7 km for walking and cycling, is frequented by 2,000 to 3,000 people every day. On the request of walkers and local MLA V.R.K. Babu, GVMC has agreed in principle to install equipment at various places on the walking track shortly.

GVMC gets such demands from various quarters. The civic body is also quick to learn lessons from its initial experience. Instead of engaging parties for supply and installation of equipment for one year as was done initially, it has now decided to award contracts for one year warranty plus four years maintenance. In Zone-5, mostly in Gajuwaka area, the process is on for installation of the facility in 13 locations.

Open house gyms

Even slum-dwellers are enjoying the facility as GVMC had provided eight equipments to Sujatanagar C-1 Zone Park in June. The zone has four parks where the facility has been extended. The footfall today in all the parks in the zone has increased from 50 to 300 per day.

C-1 Zone Park Committee working president Sunkari Vijay Sekhar said many who cannot afford to go to to gyms, mainly from eight slums in the vicinity are visiting their park regularly for exercises. The committee is offering some sort of training to first-timers and has designated hours for women, children and senior citizens to avoid crowding.

"Today, all of them are grateful to GVMC for converting the park into a paradise by offering them a platform for regular exercises," Mr. Sunkari said.

For the poor too

On the other hand, Brindavan Park Residents’ Welfare Association set a new trend by conducting a summer camp for 45 days for poor children. The park became venue for over 100 children where they were not only taught physical exercises but also provided nutritious food. Association secretary G. Murali said due to heavy demand, they had requested GVMC to increase number of equipments from five to 10.

The facility is not only confined to the city. GVMC has provided it in the 17th century Dutch township of Bheemili and jaggery town of Anakapalle, where the open gyms have become extremely popular.

Different folks, different strokes

As on today, an investment of ₹5 crore has been made on buying outdoor fitness equipment. Ten types of equipment including air swing, horse ride station, stair stepping/twister are offering good scope for stretching out.

The instruments are being procured through contract from Sansun Industries, Nasik, and Arihant Industries Corporation, Thane. "All the equipment are of American and European standards and we are not compromising on quality as our focus is on spreading good health among the denizens," a GVMC official said.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 1:37:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/on-the-beach-road-to-fitness-with-open-gyms/article29872840.ece

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