The rank and file of Mumbai police will soon be huffing and puffing away at fitness sessions, with its top brass admitting the force desperately needs an image makeover.
A former cop-turned-fitness trainer has been roped in to improve the fitness levels of policemen. Five police stations will be identified to start the venture as a pilot project.
"We are desperate to improve our image by way of improving the fitness of police constables and officers. Most people make fun of obese constables, thinking they eat too much," said Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration) Hemant Karkare.
Karkare, admitting that the 45,000-strong police force had not had a single fitness parade in the last five years, said: "The actual reason lies in the lifestyle and lack of regular physical exercise in the force. But it's high time we did something to improve all this."
For the project, the department has approached Dilip Heble, a 1979-batch Maharashtra cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who now runs 14 gymnasiums across the country.
"For the pilot project, we will be identifying five police stations where we feel the men are in need of a total makeover. We have roped in our former colleague Heble to chalk out the fitness regime," Karkare told IANS.
To make things easier for the custodians of law, the entire project is free of cost. Neither the police department nor the employees are paying any money for it.
"While Heble will design the fitness regime and provide the fitness experts, Chennai-based TI Cycles of India will provide the equipment for the project free of cost," he said.
Karkare said the idea germinated after an SMS survey was conducted among fellow IPS officers across the country.
"The rank and file are not only stressed, they also have an unhealthy lifestyle with odd hours of duties. I felt that such a programme was necessary. It would not only keep the force fit, it will also reduce their stress levels."
Each selected police station will have to provide at least a 100 square-feet area to accommodate a multi-session gym consisting of a treadmill, exercise cycles and free weight training equipment.
Heble said, "One of the primary targets of the fitness programme would be to reduce the body fat percentage of the police personnel."
"Fitness experts posted at the these police stations will also monitor the dietary habits of the personnel undergoing training. The employees will also be advised to maintain strict dietary habits," said Heble, who has previously conducted several fitness programmes for corporate houses.
For selecting police stations for the pilot project, Karkare said, "I will personally visit them and make the selections."