Aerobics enthusiasts in Phnom Penh’s Wat Botum park are deserting organised exercise classes in droves following an order to turn down the accompanying music.
In a sight familiar to the capital’s residents, large crowds participate in group exercise each day accompanied by songs across all genres, from Korean pop to Cambodian classics, which echo around the central park in the early morning and at night. But the music may be about to stop.
Un Sam Ang, chief of Chaktomuk commune in Daun Penh district, says he has received an order from Phnom Penh Municipal Hall to reduce high-volume music at night to avoid disturbing local residents.
“We do not ban them, but they must not disturb other people and music must be turned very low from 7:30pm. If it still impacts on others, we will not allow them to turn on the music from this time,” he said.
“They can do exercise at any time, even up to midnight, but they have to respect people’s sleep,” he said.
While officials at Phnom Penh Municipal Hall were unavailable for comment, instructors have also reported a music crackdown. Aerobics instructor Siv Davin, 25, said yesterday that a group of officials from the commune ordered him to stop his loud music a few days ago, saying it could affect both residents and an international delegation in the area.
Since turning down the volume, he said class sizes have dropped from an average of 200 participants at the weekend to lows of just 10 keep-fit enthusiasts who each pay 1,000 riel to take part.
“It is so quiet at the park,” he said. “People want to exercise here with music to relax from their work and studies, and to be healthy. Exercise with no music – it has no taste.”
Regular class participant, Chan Vathey, 18, expressed the feeling of many saying: “I think that if there is no music or low-level music, I don’t want to come.”
Prosh Sopheap, 38, who usually exercises at the park, added: “It is so quiet compared to before. I don’t understand why.
“It could attract tourists, because I saw some tour guides with foreign tourists who went to look at people exercising. It is popular for both the young and the old.”
Sok Penhvuth, Daun Penh District Deputy Governor, said that it was the duty of Chaktomuk commune authority to enforce the order.