Gyms are boring. Finally, it’s OK to say that out aloud. Until recently, fitness meant signing up for an annual membership at a gym nearby and using their treadmills, cycles and elliptical machines while listening to cringe worthy music.
And strength training was strictly the domain of ‘serious’ gym patrons who knew their weights. Not any more.
The past few years have seen a renaissance of sorts in the fitness arena and we see several cross fit programmes, bootcamps, zumba classes, yoga studios, dance studios and many more groups that promise a good sweat-it-out experience.
These programmes are not just about getting fit or losing weight. They are fun. Imagine playing hopscotch as part of your fitness programme. Or, dancing to a fast Prabhu Deva number with your apartment ladies.
For many women who are managing their career and/or young children, hitting the gym becomes a painful commitment as the unvarying routine gets boring. And before long, they give in and give up.
Image courtesy: The Quad, Chennai.
For Arthi, a banker from Bengaluru, discovering a sustainable work-out routine led to much more than just weight loss.
“The sweat, panting, the joy of bending and twisting my body and being able to see progress gives me a high. I started off with the aim of losing some mommy flab but over time, it blossomed into me-time, conversation with like-minded adults, fun filled banter and a beautiful journey to self-discovery,” she shares.
Arthi adds that her mood swings and PMS symptoms vanished after she started working out regularly, noting that her inner transformation was much more joyful though the physical one was apparent to everyone.
And Arthi is someone who doesn’t like gyms.
“I personally don't like gyms as I feel claustrophobic. Plus a no equipment space gives a lot of room for experimentation. I do Zumba, aerobics, Tabata (both body weight and with dumbbells) and yoga. All this in an equipment littered space? No way. Anything can be used as equipment is my mantra. I squat while I swing my son, I use the see saw rod for push up, I lunge while he is on the slides, a few burpees when the merry go round is in full swing! Another key aspect to fitness is food. It's 80% food and 20% workout. I developed a disciplined portion controlled approach to eating,” she says.
There are many women like Arthi who wish to shed the pounds and become physically fit but are unable to stick to a gym. The reasons could vary – from lack of motivation to judgmental stares.
Image courtesy: Leslie Sansone walking steps; MyFitnessPal
Vishnupriya, a teacher from Chennai, was very hesitant to enroll at a gym and discovered the Studio 49 dance studio quite by chance. The small room with minimal equipment appealed to her. Vishnupriya loves to dance and she realised that she could blend dance and exercise to get fit the fun way.
“I work out with body weight and dance my way to glory. I did not like certain top notch zumba brands because they never teach technique. They don’t even correct your squat posture. I love my studio. And when I am home, I am content with YouTube. There are days when I get my fitness fix with 10 reps of Surya Namaskar or an hour of Padams,” she says.
Some people need to be challenged if they are to stay motivated.
Sharanya, a stay-at-home mother from Bengaluru is one such. She works out with A3 Performance, Indra Nagar. Sharanya swears by High Intensity Interval Training and says strength training is very, very important to her.
‘Gyms are a thing of the past,” Sharanya says. Her fitness routine is outdoors; it’s fun, strenuous but very interesting and she has ultimate trust in her trainers at A3. She adds, “Previously, there was a lack of knowledge among us commoners and hence we believed everything the gym trainers said. Now, we know better, read health journals, know our millets. So, we need someone who is a trained fitness expert.”
Kalpana*, a former IT employee from Chennai, discovered Crossfit at The Quad. “I was very apprehensive about enrolling there because it sounded serious. I was only a beginner. But I fell in love with it in the first few weeks. I woke up with glee on days I had class and bolted out with my tracks, looking forward to run, lift kettlebells, squat, lunge and do burpees,” she says.
Having moved out of Chennai since, Kalpana’s preferred work-out routine is swimming, cycling and Surya Namaskars. “I will never go to a gym after tasting fitness liberation in the form of Crossfit outdoors,” she avers.
While Kalpana, Sharanya and Vishnupriya like getting fit with mentors, trainers and peers, there are others who reach their fitness goals with YouTube coaches like Jillian Michaels and Leslie Sansone.
Not only can you choose your coach and fitness routine depending on what you feel like that day, you can decide when and where to do the work-out. But, of course, you need a lot of motivation when you work out with a virtual guru you can shut down with the click of a button!
These women find fitness “accountability” posts on social media groups encouraging as they share their fitness journey with others with similar goals.
Baker, entrepreneur and mother of three, Rajalakshmi, is from a fitness obsessed family. But because hitting the gym together is logistically impossible, they have constructed a home gym where they work out as a family.
“We have ladders, ropes and tyres in addition to usual gym equipment. Working out is our idea of family time. And we also consciously strive to eat right as a family,” she says.
Clearly, staying fit can be fun – you just need to find a routine that works for you.