The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gym, swim and chill in style

Tucked away from the bustle of Belvedere Road lies a telling sign of what the Calcuttan's idea of leisure and exercise is shaping up to be.

The two-year-old Ocio is a health centre that offers a wide range of facilities with its swimming pool being the jewel in the crown. The indoor pool is heated all through the year, with filtration of water round-the-clock.

It's not only aquatic pursuits that concern the Ocio members, with most of the fitness equipment being imported from abroad at considerable expense. The machines at the gymnasium were brought from the US, while the steam showers were flown in from Germany. A sauna, steam room, massage parlour and a beauty parlour make up the rest of the facilities.

There is also a caf', called Caf' Rustica, which serves continental and Indian food for those feeling peckish after their exercise.

So, who is taking advantage of this new-age health and leisure centre' 'We get lots of people from the IT sector, businessmen and, of course, many families,' said manager Sudip Majumdar, who was quick to point out that 'Ocio now has 5,000-plus members, divided into morning and day shifts for use of the pool and other facilities'.

If this seems like a large count, Majumdar was more inclined to think that it could be more. 'We prefer quality over quantity at Ocio. We are careful about how many people join,' he explained.

But most importantly, is the place affordable' The caf' certainly is, with burgers and pizzas selling for under Rs 50. For membership, there are varied options, with a typical full-time adult membership costing Rs 25,000 per annum.

Ocio is not, however, solely geared to adult professionals, with the pool being made available every day to local schools for swimming lessons and also inter-school swimming competitions. Summer and winter camps are also organised for people of all ages. 'A lot of people, particularly children, get excited, as they feel they are in an aquarium,' said general manager T.K. Seal.

Upstairs, above the health club, are two function rooms with specific roles. One is for corporate functions and exhibitions, the other is for marriages. 'We hold about three or four functions a week, never more than that, as we like to concentrate more on the health club,' elaborated Majumdar. If Ocio's success is anything to go by, a new type of multi-purpose health club culture is beginning in Calcutta.

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