Spice of Life: A gym for physical and emotional health
Forget about electronic gadgets or gizmos, the premises didn’t even have an electricity connection. But this never deterred the fitness fanaticsUpdated: Mar 01, 2018 10:48 IST
LA Fitness. That was the name of the gym I visited in Los Angeles. Big and beautiful, it was equipped with the latest fitness machines and an array of fancy gizmos.
Covered with glasses, the walls glinted back your reflection even as huge LED televisions screamed for attention. Neatly stacked and spotless hand towels sat cheek by jowl with an array of scented sanitisers and wipes. There was also a steady supply of water bottles.
I mused how the inviting ambience was guaranteed to inspire even a lazy person to get up and exercise. No wonder, everyone inside was busy doing just that.
But despite all the glitz and activity, a strange silence hung in the air. Least concerned with people around, everybody was wearing earplugs, blocking communication not only with others, but with their own selves as well. There was no sharing of any sort, no exchange of feelings. What we call a sense of togetherness or fellowship was grossly missing at this gym.
I felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me as I thought of the gym in my native town of Kapurthala in Punjab. Not really a gym, it was simply an old ‘akhada’ where we not only pushed ourselves hard to achieve that V-shaped figure (six packs or eight packs had not gained currency yet) but also forged friendly bonds.
There was so much warmth among the visitors at the akhada that we even celebrated our birthdays and anniversaries there. The beginners would bring sweets, seek the blessing of the instructor we addressed as ustaad ji, and distribute these sweets among all .We sang and danced together. The surroundings reverberated with Heer, Mehendi and Mirza. The gym for us didn’t mean just hard workouts, but feasts and festivity as well.
The akhada, called ‘Brahamankund’ , was situated near crematory of the town, far from the madding crowd. One had to walk through furrowed fields to reach the health haven. And oftentimes, snakes showed up on the way, their shiny skin making us shudder.
Forget about electronic gadgets or gizmos, the premises didn’t even have an electricity connection. But this never deterred the fitness fanatics.
The early birds, who would arrive at the gym before it could be lit up by the heavenly lamp, ran the risk of strange encounters. Once a fitness freak squatting in the dim light of the earthen lamp realised it wasn’t a string but a snake that touched his head every time he stood up. He had been swapping it casually until the day broke and he looked up to see the snake dangling from the ceiling made of mud bricks.
There was a moment of fright followed by laughter at the treatment meted out to the poor serpent. The incident went on to become a much-touted joke.
Our akhada, I admit, was no match for the fancy LA Fitness or other modern gyms equipped with state-of-the-art machines. But it was a perfect package of fitness and fraternity, recreation and relationships. It was, indeed, a celebration of body, mind and spirit together. Above all, it stood for a culture that secured a blissful state of physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being.
(The writer is a retired associate professor from Jagadhri and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)