Covid-19 Fitness

How fitness enthusiasts in Kerala capital continue to stay in shape despite lockdown

A body-builder lifting a heavy dumbbell

A body-builder lifting a heavy dumbbell   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Even as lockdown over the coronavirus scare keeps fitness aficionados cooped up in their homes and social distancing becoming the norm, there are many who do not give up on their fitness goals

For Hyderabad native Sanjay Tapse, who has made the city his “home” for the past 12 years, Zumba is a “passion”. It all started two years ago when the ISRO engineer attended a workshop on the fitness programme. “I wanted to stay in shape but hitting the gym was not really my cup of tea. I love to dance and so Zumba suits me,” he says. However, as with multitude of other fitness enthusiasts in the city, Sanjay’s routine too has now taken a hit owing to the restrictions imposed to break the chain and stop the spread of COVID-19.

With social distancing becoming the norm, several fitness aficionados prefer to “stay at home”, while also looking at alternative ways of staying fit. Despite fitness centres remaining shut and crowds at public places thinning, many are not giving up on their fitness goals. Like Sanjay, who has switched to doing light exercises at home. “I’m practising a bit of yoga and doing stretching exercises. I am controlling my diet as I’m less active these days since I can’t go for Zumba,” he says.

Walkers may have a hit a wall but many are finding other ways of staying active, like tattoo artiste George Fernandes from Mudavanmugal who has been in the habit of walking about 4 km every morning. A former bodybuilder, he shifted primarily to walking and cycling to stay in shape. I have, however, stopped stepping out for my morning walks for now. My work-out experience has come in handy and I’m doing a lot of free-hand and body weight exercises these days. I also use resistance bands, skipping ropes and dumb bells,” says the 33-year-old.

(right) Sanjay Tapse during a session of Zumba

(right) Sanjay Tapse during a session of Zumba   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Cycling enthusiasts too have applied the brakes for the time being. Cyclist Priya Balan says she has found an effective alternative to keep the momentum going — ‘rapid walking’ on the terrace of her house. “I think we should be respectful of the government directives as now is a time to think about the collective health and not individual benefits. However, it’s, of course, difficult when you are forced to take a break from something you have been doing for so long. It almost feels like having to give up a good habit,” says Priya, who otherwise goes cycling at least thrice a week, often with her friends or on her own.

With fitness centres coming under the lockdown, gym-hitters and bodybuilders are trading heavy-lifting for simpler home work-outs, with or without equipment. Like Karate practitioner Vaideesh Kumar C from Jagathy who now practises his martial art moves coupled with basic body weight exercises such as push-ups and chin-ups at home. “In any case, I was planning to refrain from going to the gym when the directive to close such places down came. I felt it safer not to share gym equipment for now,” he explains.

Do’s and don’ts
  • Abhilash Viswam, Consultant Physiotherapist at Meditrina Hospital, says those who work out on a regularly can continue their routine at home as they might be familiar with the do’s and don’ts. “However, in case of resistance training, it is advisable to lessen the weights and increase the reps to avoid injuries,” he says. Abhilash suggests ground exercises are ideal and people can do brisk walking at their homes for cardiovascular fitness. “Above all, stay hydrated,” he says.

Fitness trainers point out that gymnasiums are not just a place for pumping iron but an opportunity for social interaction as well, especially after a hard day of work. Venugopal Unnnikrishnan of Belaire Health Club, however, questions the “motivation factor” in working out at home by oneself. “It’s often that sense of fraternity that brings many body-builders back again to the gyms. Nevertheless, it’s possible to do lot of ground exercises at home, but targeted muscle-building may not be easy as they require specific equipment. However, beginners can check out YouTube videos of certified trainers for work-out tips,” he adds.

The sports scene in the city has virtually come to a standstill, with summer camps and training sessions for kids too called off. Tennis lover M S Krishnakumar says he can’t wait to pick up the racket again. “Normally, I play the game at Trivandrum Tennis Club almost every morning. I’m currently doing skipping, jogging and so on to maintain my stamina,” says Krishnakumar.

For former badminton player Jose George, who runs Ajit and Jose School of Badminton in Kowdiar, shutting the academy does not deter him from imparting training for some kids with potential, thanks to his video tutorials. “They cannot afford to be off for long and we have charted a training schedule using short video clips for instructions and feedbacks,” he says. Jose now keeps himself on top of the game with “wall practice”, a training method, at his residence. “Now that I get more time, I’m also watching a lot of iconic badminton matches and highlights on YouTube,” he says with a chuckle.

Priya Balan

Priya Balan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

For some, like Kalaripayattu trainer Ajith Kumar T of Maruthi Kalari Sangham near Poojappura, it’s also a matter of livelihood. Only last week, he made it back to the city after a training camp in Kolkata, which was eventually called off before completion. However, Ajith has since been in “quarantine” as a precautionary measure, which has disrupted his training and exercise routine. “What’s worse is that our Kalaripayattu demonstrations slated for the coming weeks in many districts have been cancelled, affecting our source of income,” he says. Ajith is hopeful that things will start to look up soon.

Many deem practising yoga as beneficial not only for physical fitness but also for an overall sense of well-being, and writer and filmmaker Sreebala K Menon attests to this. She feels these are tough times and underscores the importance of staying calm. “As a yoga student and practitioner of meditation, I find yoga more than just physical fitness act. Personally, I have now dropped everything because of the present situation and this helps me simply sit at a tranquil spot just to listen and observe,” she says. As yoga is something that can be practised on one’s own, she says the lockdown hasn’t really affected her routine.

Stay fit as well while you stay safe!

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 4:36:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fitness/how-fitness-enthusiasts-in-kerala-capital-continue-to-stay-in-shape-despite-lockdown/article31162940.ece

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