METRO PLUS

Fighting FIT

SUNANDA, A housewife, is an exercise freak. Unless she does her routine workout, she feels "something is amiss". Sunanda is part of the growing tribe of women who aim to keep their body "healthy and fit", not to mention "trim".

The fitness business may not exactly be booming in the city, but owning a gym is definitely not bad investment if one goes by what fitness and weight loss experts have to say.

Anila Joseph, who runs a beauty parlour, plans to reopen the health club that she ran. It was shut down owing to space constraints. "There is an increasing desire among women to look good, and they constitute a chunk of those who frequent the health clubs and gyms in the city," says Anila.

Most women choose `women-only' health clubs because they feel self-conscious about exercising in unisex clubs.

Most who join the health clubs and gyms are in their 30s, while some others are in their 20s and constitute the `bride-to-be' category.

"Those in the age group of 30 and above are more particular about exercising. The younger generation wants quick results," says Bindu Nair of Body Art, an exclusive health club for women. Susan Paul of Figurine, another health club for women, agrees. Adds Susan: "Women approaching menopause are concerned about health related problems."

"Working out at the gym makes me feel great," says Seema, who is in her 30s. Her friend Meena, a regular at the gym, says, "We have been doing workouts for over a year now and have shed weight. This motivates us to continue."

Exercising can check depression. "Some women who suffer from depression feel cheerful after a few days of exercising. Exercise releases chemicals in the body, which cheer you up," says Susan Paul. "When I'm not exercising, I become short- tempered and irritable," says Seema.

The Power Health Club at Palayam, once an exclusive joint for men, has opened its doors to women. "When some of our members asked whether they could bring along their spouses and relatives, we agreed. We have a separate time slot for women and have women instructors too," says Johnson of Power Health Club.

Says Bindu Nair, "In most cases, the men coax their wives to come here." The women, however, refute Bindu's statement. "I exercise because I want to; not because my husband or anyone else wants me to. It makes me feel good," states Sunanda. Ditto with Vahini, who says, "I exercise because I want to be trim and fit."

Initially, health clubs functioned as annexes to beauty parlours. "More and more exclusive health clubs are coming up. Women need not feel self-conscious about visiting health clubs any more," says Bindu Nair.

The facilities at these health clubs come at a moderate price (Rs. 200 to Rs. 400 a month). Women are made to do a combination of floor exercises, and occasionally aerobics.

The latest technology guarantees `specific inch loss and shaping' of specific regions of the body.

Such treatment procedures help lose around 4-6 inches or 3-4 kilos. "There are no side effects, says Dr. Aattara Radhakrishnan Nair, who offers the treatment in the city.

Though the purse becomes lighter by about Rs. 400 for a single session, the treatment has loyal advocates such as Dr. Mini. She claims to have shed 50 kg after undergoing the `specific weight loss' treatment. "Since I underwent this treatment seven months ago, I haven't put on weight."

The owners of health club have a different take on the matter. For instance, Susan Paul states, "You have to exercise on a regular basis in order to maintain your health. There are no shortcuts."

The mantra seems to be that the means justify the end.

SHILPA NAIR

Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

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