Apart from massive langars to feed thousands and mattresses and blankets to keep them comfortable in the biting cold, the farmer protest at Singhu border also has an offering for fitness enthusiasts in the form of open air gyms.
As part of the ‘seva’ by volunteer groups, gym equipment has been transported from different parts of Punjab and set up for use by anyone at the protest. According to farmers, the gyms are an attempt to keep the protesters engaged for the long haul.
One such gym is located at a petrol pump nearly 3 km from the main police barricade — walking through the langars and across the service lane of the GT Karnal Highway, one can see metallic equipment from afar. The machines have been placed on small patches of gym carpets next to the filling stations of the now defunct petrol pump. The gym, operated by a volunteer organisation called Your Seva, was set up on the second day of the protests.
“We purchased these machines in Punjab itself and brought them here. We realised that many people, including sportsmen, will join the protest. Plus, exercise keeps the mind fresh. The gym is used extensively by people during the day. Most people come between 7 am and 11 am; some keep coming through the day,” said Gurtej Singh of Your Seva organisation.
Next to the gym, a table full of first aid boxes and band aids are also kept in case someone sustains an injury during exercise. The gym equipment includes weights from 7.5 kg onwards, manual treadmills, cycles, barbells and butterfly machines. At least 10 people can work out at the same time, the volunteers said.
At another such gym, nearly 500 metres away and situated in the middle of rows of tractor trolleys, the dumbbells are the biggest attraction. Several athletes who are currently camping at the border use the weights to maintain their fitness schedule. The machines have been laid out adjacent to the footpath between the service lane and the main highway road.
“There are dozens of people who visit the gym. We believe this can benefit a lot of people because it is a healthy distraction. Besides, for several others, it’s a way of life. We want to tell everyone that we are here to stay and we will set up things to help everyone. We can get even more equipment if needed,” said Jagtar Singh, from Nadala’s Ek Noor foundation.
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