Park is the new gym

Photo: R. Ravindran   | Photo Credit: R RAVINDRAN

Sandeep Kumar Ambalavanan, a professional motor racer was religiously going to the gym for six years. However, work and college didn’t allow him much time on the treadmill. Since motorsports require a high level of fitness, Sandeep simply had to find the time. He had heard about a group of boys who exercise at the Nageswara Rao Park. Being a long-time Mylapore resident, it didn’t hurt to go check them out.

What he saw left him in awe. He had never imagined that the good, old neighbourhood park could host such adventures, where the park’s equipment become props for performing gravity-defying stunts.

These boys use the parallel rods of the10-feet-high playground climber to do push-ups, monkey bars to do pull-ups and shimmied up a rope tied to a forgotten tree. Balancing and jumping from heights, to them, seemed like a walk in the park. “It seemed difficult but I knew, if I master these, it would not only strengthen my core muscles but also help me focus,” says Sandeep.

Known as Street Workout, it is a combination of athletics, calisthenics and sports performed in parks or other public areas. Here people have to exercise making use of the facilities available within the premises.

This new form of fitness was popularised by YouTube and that’s where professional table tennis player, L. Sathishwaran stumbled upon it. “As a fitness enthusiast, I keep searching for workout routines online and one such time, I saw a group of boys doing a different set of exercises using the rod on which swings are attached to. On searching, I found more such workout videos. I shared the link with my friends who play table tennis with me. We gathered at Nageswara Rao to try it out. It was the first time we had entered a park since we were little kids,” says Sathishwaran.

Though difficult, they took the challenge and found themselves do what they never had imagined. “Gymming gets monotonous after a point. Fitness is not all about aesthetics. It is about strength, focus, mental stability and endurance. Street workout takes care of that. Since you do it in a group, it helps people push their limits,” says Sathishwaran.

Interestingly, this student of Lords Table Tennis Academy, had coaxed his coach to try this form of fitness. Forty-five year old Christoper Anas is the oldest member of the gang. “I had put on weight post a serous injury and needed to lose it. The boys at my institute told me about their adventures in the park and I decided to join them. The workouts are designed in such a way that it suits the needs of every individual,” says Christoper, who is only too glad to be taught by his student.

Their exercises include push-ups, pistol squats, elbow levers, human bridge, hinge push-ups, rope climbing, two finger pull-ups, obstacle jumps, one hand leg raise, frog stand, L-sit and skinning the cat — none of which comes easy. “We started as a fun activity around 10 months ago. Since most of us played TT, we realised that our performance improved considerably. We started with six boys, now we are 15. What we do is not easy, so we design a different plan for different people. We recently bought a heavy tire to up the game,” he says.

These men meet at least three times a week. They have adopted an abandoned dog who also works out with them. On weekends, they go to the beach to try out different routines.

To know more look up the group’s posts on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 5:11:50 AM |

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