Fun workouts go from fit to fitter

Last Updated 23 October 2009, 13:11 IST
Fun workouts go from fit to fitter

Fitness is ‘in’ like never before. Today, women and men, young and old, urbanites and suburbanites, are desperately sweating it out, and finding new ways to stay fit and healthy. 

Dr Rachna Khanna Singh, lifestyle management expert and holistic consultant, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon, explains the reason for this trend. “There has been a global shift in lifestyles over the last 10 years. The perception of the body has changed and everyone wants to look younger than they really are. Unlike the earlier generations, young people living in cities today are clued in on what they perceive as an appealing body image and they are constantly adopting new techniques that promise to help them slim down and achieve a toned body,” she says.

Sweat and toil

While both men and women are working out with a vengeance, women seem to be more committed to losing weight. This is also because of tremendous peer pressure and professional requirements. Says Mumbai-based travel agent, Sameera Sharma (30), “At my workplace, almost everyone has a perfectly toned body. Some colleagues spend at least 45 minutes in the gym. Others take part in hour-long yoga sessions every day. There is no way one can afford to be podgy or overweight these days, and everybody is aware that excessive weight affects one’s health, personal life and career.”

Pilates, power yoga and more

The surest way to shed those extra kilos is to either reduce the daily intake of calories or step up the exercise routine. Most experts recommend a combination of both approaches. Health freaks will also vouch for the fact that a regular workout is the key to sustainable fitness. Delhi-based psychologist, Dr Jyotika Bedi, who is in her early 30s, counsels patients for long hours every day, but always finds the time to hit the gym. “It keeps me mentally agile and fit, but more than that I really enjoy my workout,” she says.
Losing weight is never easy. What can make it a less daunting prospect is to ensure that the workout is engaging. For, if one is having fun, exercising needn’t be a chore — a regimen that gets mundane and boring after a point. This is perhaps why traditional yoga and aerobics regimes are ‘out’. Now there is an array of exciting workouts to choose from. There’s Hypoxi, Pilates and Power Plates for the serious gymmer; ballet and salsa routines attract those who want to combine fitness with learning a new dance form; and there’s also artistic yoga popularised by celebrity yoga instructor Bharat Thakur.
Hypoxi is an effective way of getting rid of stubborn fat in problem areas like the stomach and thighs. The machine uses the suction method to exercise the muscles, which increases blood flow to the targeted areas, helping the accumulated fat to break down. It also increases the metabolic rate and improves circulation, say the experts. Many see this as a non-invasive alternative to liposuction. But Hypoxi is still an emerging trend in India. Delhi has an operational Hypoxi studio, and Bangalore and Chandigarh are expected to follow suit. 

The other routine that is gaining currency is Pilates, which is a body conditioning routine that seeks to build flexibility, strength, endurance, and co-ordination, without adding muscle bulk. Like Hypoxi therapy, Pilates also increases circulation and helps to sculpt the body. If done properly, it can lead to better posture.

There’s also an interesting bit of history attached to this hip workout, which is believed to be favoured by celebrities like Madonna, Jennifer Aniston, Charlize Theron and Sharon Stone. It was first mooted by a German, Joseph Pilates, as an exercise method during World War I to help immobilised patients and soldiers, and is based on yogic exercises like the surya namaskar and moves from Chinese martial arts.

But before signing up for a  Pilates workout, always ensure that the routine is being taught and supervised by a qualified instructor. Also, make it a point to wear comfortable clothes, avoid quick jerky movements, and follow up the Pilates routine with a swim or some brisk walking.

Vadodara’s Richa Shiv Lal Goyal (23), a post graduate student of journalism, who does Pilates regularly, says: “This is much more fun than yoga.” Besides, a regular Pilates workout has been found to be successful in preventing recurring back pain and is also known to improve bone density and the health of joints.

The Power Plate is another popular exercise tool that is quite a hit with youngsters. Basically, it is a vibrating platform on which one can exercise. The routine helps to develop stamina and tone the muscles. The exercises are conventional but the vibrations make it tough to hold on to the various postures.

There are many women who would much rather dance their way to a slim figure. Take the case of Delhi-based Taru D’Souza (40). This home-maker never misses her 75-minute dance session with The Danceworx Academy twice a week. On offer are styles such as jazz, classical ballet and contemporary dance. “I enjoy my dance class as it’s a group activity. There is also that element of competition when you are dancing with others. We inspire each other to keep going and do better. In the gym one is all alone and, although there is music, it becomes very mechanical,” she says. Lessons at The Danceworx Academy cost around Rs 3,300 a quarter.

Sudipta Mondal (21), who came to Delhi from Jharkhand last year, says she’s “thrilled” at the new energy she’s been experiencing after she took to dancing. Her parents encourage her as they feel it’s a great way for their daughter to stay in shape.

The celebs do it too

Many people also swear by artistic yoga. Although it has been around for a while now, this form of yoga is as popular as ever. It is high on the list of Bollywood celebs like Kareena Kapoor and Esha Koppikar. Delhi-based media professional, Alpana Singh (30), has been a regular at artistic yoga sessions for the last two-and-a-half years. She says, “The best thing about this form is that it’s the right blend of traditional yoga and contemporary exercise routines like cardio. I spend about 10-15 minutes in the hour-long session doing pranayam and meditation. Of course, like all exercises, artistic yoga should not be done more than four times a week.” Call it a fashion trend or new awareness, but one thing is clear: Indians are increasingly willing to try out innovative, even unusual, routines to battle the bulge.

(Published 23 October 2009, 13:11 IST)

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