Quarantine bootcamp: Chennai is getting extra fit under the COVID-19 lockdown, and how!
From celebrities and influencers posting motivational videos to yoga instructors and trainers pitching in with online classes – thelock down has instigated a whole new community of virtual fitness
In the midst of nursing her nine-week-old baby and managing an adorable yapping pooch, the bold and spunky plus-size model Ashley Graham is posting live yoga and workout sessions from New Zealand, while in self-isolation. Centrfit, the fitness app promoted by the actor Chris Hemsworth has offered six weeks of free usage that we promptly pursued. Though, do note that you need to give a quasi-commitment for enrolling in one of the paid packages later. Closer home, Tollywood actor Rakul Preet Singh posted a video that shows her jumping, squatting and burpee-ing across her balcony space and her Instagram post urges you to do 30 minutes of that routine. Meanwhile, Vikram Menon, founder of Simple Strong, has floated out a 14-day challenge to keep other fitness enthusiast engaged during this period.”We will extend the challenge according to the lockdown period. It is about working with whatever is available at home. We send out daily workout routines as a challenge!” says Vikram who is seen doing pull-ups over a sunshade ledge, and is also the founder of the Wild Warrior, obstacle course race. With such choices galore on social media, the next challenge we think is to be motivated and inspired enough to actually look away from all the funny memes about wasting time at home and instead upping your fitness quotient like a boss!
Charged with positivism and mighty chuffed, soon we found ourselves huffing and puffing on a yoga mat. The vinyasa flow yoga practitioner, Mansi Gandhi’s voice floated across sternly over all the participants. “No knees on the mat. Hands on either side of your right foot.” While Sharon got the hang of that with ease – Aparna and I struggled a tad. At a time when social distancing and isolation is the right thing to do, to be part of a session like this is wildly welcome. Before you scream foul – these sessions are conducted over the Zoom app and it literally takes you from your couch to the mat without you having to leave your living room! It started off on March 18, as a helpful aid for Mansi’s regular class members who otherwise attended her classes at CurioPlay or Tattva. “For this month, in order to encourage people into trying online yoga, I offered five free spots which got snapped up very fast! And now I am offering unlimited classes for INR 2000 till the end of the month.”
Even as we contemplate the undeniable convenience of working out from home, we ask Mansi what were the challenges she foresaw with such a programme, in the long run? She offers, “The one thing I see as a bit if a roadblock is real time corrections. One touch can correct the posture immediately as against me stopping the class to correct one person. Also, learning new asanas like headstands and handstands become a bit of a challenge since I am not present to support.”
Meanwhile Jen Thomas, fitness instructor and personal trainer, tells us that the biggest challenge she faces with her clients is keeping them motivated when at home. “The lack of community. Everyone loves to get out of the house and see their friends, listen to good music, and have a good laugh,” she says, agreeing that some clients also require specialised attention, such as my pre and post-natal routines that needed extra care in terms of posture and form. Talking about the present situation with the global health crisis, Jen tells us how she started early. “Apart from my regular classes and personal training sessions, I've been training my nutrition clients online for the last two years. Once I realised that Covid-19 was getting worse, rather than contained, I launched the online training program in March.”Her online training program is designed to use minimal equipment, such as a single dumbbell, mat and basic resistance bands. “The current scenario has inspired many of them to take their health and fitness into their own hands and sign up for my online programme (a three month programme is at `4,500 INR + applicable taxes).”
Gyms and fitness instructors have also embraced the concept of online training, while some have been ahead of their times like the Quad. They have live group sessions in the city called the Quad Bootcamp, but started Quad Virtual back in 2017. A one-on-one coaching programme via apps like WhatsApp and Zoom, with customised fitness goals, Quad Virtual has over 500 members across the world (at `18,000 plus GST for a 10-week programme). In the midst of the current quarantine scenario they have seamlessly transitioned their Bootcamp members into the Quad Virtual format. We catch up with one of their Chennai-based members, interior stylist, Sujatha Giri who trained four times a week at The Quad Bootcamp prior to the lockdown call. “We have been getting daily workout plans with warm ups, post w/out stretches, accompanying videos for the moves, tips, tools, substitute moves and support to execute the movement pattern safely and effectively,” shares Sujatha, adding how just to make it more interactive, she has teamed up with her class buddy and decided to Skype call and sync their workout timings so that they ‘push the other and e-high 5’!
Sujatha’s secret six
The interior stylist, Sujatha Giri, who resides in Alwarpet, tells us what it takes to stay invested in an online fitness programme when in self-quarantine. “Given the lack of shared camaraderie, class vibe, buzz etc., it has been tough but not impossible. Few things I decide to ensure to pull this off.”
1. Stick to the class timing as sacrosanct and clear the designated space of all distraction
2. Dress as I would for class and not suddenly workout in my jammies
3. Do not shortchange the warm-ups or post work out stretches
4. Be honest about the quality of movement execution and timing
5. Enjoy the routine
6. Eat right, sleep well, hydrate
Weight and watch
Jeffery Vardon, founder of The Hot Shoe Dance Company and O2 health studios, tells us how to keep working out at home even when you have no props to help. “A few exercises one can do at home with body weight as resistance and no additional weight.”
1. Regular plank
2. Side plank
3. Squats (dynamic and static)
4. Lunges (dynamic and static)
5. Abdominal curls
6. Reverse curl
7. Standing, lateral leg raises (for outer thigh)
8. Standing, rear leg raises ( for gluteus maximus)
9. Calf raises
Hit the bottle
Fitness bloggers, siblings, Praveen Raja and Dr Sunitha Raja who founded @shredify.me, are posting videos on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, of workouts that transform your everyday items into your ‘gym equipment’! “When it comes to home workouts where there is no access to gym equipment, the key lies in using your body and find common household things to externally load so you can resistance train effectively,” says Praveen. Here are some of their favourite common household things to use in order to get an effective workout. (And if you want to amp up the burn then use these items in conjunction with each other.)
1. Water cans - These can be incredible versatile when it comes to resistance training. You can use these for squats, lunges, deadlifts, presses, rows and what not. You can easily vary the weight by changing the amount of water in the can.
2. Backpack - Pick one up, fill it up with books so the weight is suitable for you, strap it on your back and use your imagination. Climb stairs, do push-ups, pull-ups, squats. Just make sure you strap the backpack tight to your back. You don’t want it loose and dangling.
3. Stairs - Almost every house/apartment building has something that can be used. When possible you can use them for pull-ups and rows. Even otherwise you can use them for split squats,
4. Tables/chairs - As common as it gets in any household. You can use these for dips, squats, split squats and incline push-ups.
5. Blankets/towels - Pick up a couple of old ones. Throw it over a beam and use them for pull-ups and rows. If you can’t find a beam tie a knot, jam on top of a door and use them as you would a simple TRX setup. Just make sure that the bedsheets have some texture so they aren’t slick.
6. Buckets - Another versatile and common household item. Fill it with water, sand or books and use them for squats, lunges, presses, curls. Use buckets of different sizes for different activities.
7. Water bottles - These can easily be used for shoulder workouts like lateral raises, rear deltoid flyes and to work the biceps and triceps.