One of the oldest Gym established in the year 1925 is The Bandra Physical Culture Association. Popularly known as Bhaiya Gym, the gym has the cheapest membership rates in tony Bandra. In the 1970's the gym charged Rs 12/month. Now the charges are Rs 2000/6 months.
Sandeep Kopkar is now managing BPCA. I talked with him about BPCA and the value system and tradition of this old gym.
Why is it popularly known as Bhaiya Gym?
In the initial periods, Pehelwan’s used to play Kushti and popular sports like Mallakhamb. This exercise is called “Lal mati Vyayam” (which means as exercising in the red mud). These Pehelwan’s ranged from vegetable vendors to Milkman. Hence the name stuck.
Dr. V. Raghunath on whom the adjacent road is named is the founder of BPCA and the driving force behind establishing the Gym. It is the vision and efforts of Dr. V Raghunath which is nurturing BPCA even today says Sandeep in reverence.
The first instructor was Jhaveri master and then there was Govind Chachat Sir. Sandeep's father Tukaram Kopkar who is still fit in his 70 passed the responsibility to Sandeep.
Sandeep reminisces that in the earlier days people used to respect the trainer's. That practice doesn't exist anymore.
Students from all communities and economic classes come to the gym to learn the fundamentals of fitness. The Gym has had a few celebs students like Salman Khan and his brothers.
The members of the gym have been winning Junior Mumbai Shree and Chhatrapati award. BPCA has to its credit several medals and trophies in State and National level championships too.
Old vs Contemporary Culture
In earlier days people used to work out as per their body types. He says Indians posses different bone structure and we need to exercise as per it. Doing Dand Baithaks and Namaskars and lot of free hand exercises lays a sound foundation. But now youth check out videos on the internet and want to mimic them.
BPCA Gym stands out because of its open outdoor location. Members love to come here to exercise as they can do free hand exercises and playground activities. Foreigners come to get trained here too. The Gym can accommodate about100 members at a time.
The latest change now is that the gym is open to ladies.
Bandra Physical Culture Association
St. Martin’s Road