Back in fit & phat mode
Gyms are making slow, steady comeback as Kochiites are returning to their pre-pandemic fitness regimen
After having stayed at home for nearly 24 months, Kochi is slowly, steadily getting back to its fitness regimen. And, as a result, gyms and fitness centres are buzzing back to life. “People are slowly returning,” says Kerala Gym Owners’ Association president Venugopal Unnikrishnan. “There was a big dip as many people had switched to online workout courses. Some of them are continuing with the same. But those who had been hitting the gym before the pandemic, always feel the pull.”
Renu Martin, who runs a home decor boutique named Kiarah at Ravipuram, says it’s ‘the pull’ that dragged her back to the gym. “I had been working out at home. But something was missing. The systematic, morning workout at the gym charges me up for the day. I feel a positive energy within,” she adds.
Kaloor-based dental surgeon Ajith Soman echoes similar views. “I started hitting the gym to tone up, not body-building. Today, one can find gyms that use unconventional training that involves sports-like activities. I get a high from them. The sessions boost confidence and instil a sense of wellness,” he says. “I returned to my gym as soon as the curbs were lifted. Till then, I had to rely on YouTube, which was drab.”
About 400 gyms in the state had closed down during the pandemic crisis. “Of these, only 30 per cent have reopened. But the positive is that they are making a strong comeback. In my case, nearly three-fourths of patrons who had registered with my gym have come back,” says Venugopal, whose gym has 150 members.
Seventy per cent of his clientele are those in the 18 to 30 age group; those aged 30 to 50 comprise 20 per cent, while 10 per cent are those over 60, he notes. “Those in the 18 to 30 age bracket are very conscious of their body shape,” says Venugopal. “They are the ones who constantly think of their figure, flat tummy and toned arms and legs.”
However, after 30, people become more conscious of their health. “Their primary goal is to keep lifestyle diseases at bay and be healthy,” says Venugopal. For senior citizens, the workouts focus more on strengthening muscles. “Weakening muscles is a problem they face,” he says. “But the mantra is to start low and then go up. I have a doctor coming to my gym. He started doing leg presses with 20kg, and now does 250kg. We insist on medical check-ups, and trainers keep a book on each client and design the workouts according to their capacity. I even have a 74-year-old person who comes regularly to work out.”
Owner of Bounce Fitness Studio in Panampilly Nagar, Alexander V S, says initial assessment is vital, especially in the case of people who recovered from Covid. “A majority of our clients are aged between 30 and 45. We study each member in detail and analyse how their bodies react to training. Medical opinion is sought in the case of people with underlying conditions. In the initial days, all are made to do only 20 per cent of the planned workout, after discussions on lifestyle and diet plans,” he says.
Former IMA president Dr Abraham Varghese says “extreme care” needs to be taken while engaging in strenuous activity. “Age, too, plays a big role,” he adds. “You can’t do things that you did when you were 20 or 30 at 60 years and above.” Rajiv Ambat, the founder of the NuvoVivo health and fitness platform, stresses that “one needs to be very aware of what suits him or her”.
Every person has his or her limitations, be it exercise or diet, he adds. “It would be best if a person does a thorough medical check-up before going to the gym or experiments with a new diet,” he says. “Pushing beyond limits could cause even deadly medical complications. The same applies to diets. In the case of a healthy person, experimenting is okay. But fad diets could cause severe damage to people with health issues, as in the case of actor Mishti Mukherjee, who died of kidney failure after following a keto diet.”