Odisha tribal youth’s open-air gym initiative draws praise

Jeypore: Shibaram Kotia from Odisha’s Koraput district followed his passion to keep himself fit as well as let others be in shape. Around 35 youths from different age groups have been staying fit by undergoing fitness trainings regularly at an open-air gym for free of cost set up by the tribal youth near Panjiaguda in Koraput district.

Shibaram’s initiative to set up an open-air gym with fitness equipments made up of easily available items in a forest has been the talk of the town. Moreover, fitness equipments at the gym are not either iron-made or branded products. But he preferred to the set up the gym with equipments made up of tree branches, bricks, tyres, concrete pieces and sand.

More than two years, youths have been undergoing trainings and many of them are planning to join police and defence forces.

Inspired by his father Sitaram Kotia’s love for aerobatics, physical exercises and fitness training, Shibaram always wanted to remain fit. Initially, Shibaram joined a gym at Christianpetta near Shiba Lodge in the town with the small savings of his father Sitaram, a rickshaw puller. After joining the gym for six months, Shibaram could not continue as he was unable to pay the fee further.

Hence, he decided to set up an open-air gym for himself. Also, he decided to train youths at the gym for free of cost.

Armed with the experience at the Christianpetta gym and knowledge on the fitness exercise that his father taught him and his brother, Shibaram set up a small gym at his house. However, due to lack of adequate space, Shibaram has to look elsewhere. He then decided to set up an open-air gym amidst the green lushes of a forest near Panjiaguda.

In the beginning, only three youths showed interests to join the open-air gym and underwent training. Subsequently, many youths from nearby places joined the gym as word of mouth spread.

By profession a driver, Shibaram have been spending from his pocket for maintenance of the open-air gym. “Instead of joining a gym in a closed space, this open-air gym provides fresh air to the youths undergoing training. If someone builds a perfect body through natural way, the concerned person will remain fit and healthy forever. The society will in turn be benefitted,” said Shibaram.

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