It was like a bonus offer, weight reduction topped with the news of my pregnancy … I felt so good,” says Meenakshi, mother of a baby boy. She was advised by her doctor to go to the gym to reduce weight in order to conceive. “My baby is seven months old now and I’ve returned to my workout routine. Being healthy is important,” she adds.
Anovulation (a condition in which the ovary fails to release an egg) in obese women causes problems from conception to delivery. Women with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 25–30 are 50 percent more prone to anovulatory infertility than those with a BMI of 20–25.
Obesity affects male fertility as well. Dr Narayana Reddy, a sexologist says, “Obese men suffer from hormonal imbalance which results in adverse sperm count affecting fertility,” making weight loss and fitness necessary.
Fitness and exercise have always been associated with celebrities. Thanks to the internet, people are realising the health benefits of gyming. A rise in exercising bars — unisex gym, ladies gym, government-run gym and gym equipment made available at local parks is proof that healthy life-style is becoming a priority. Jaya Shobana, a regular gym goer says, “I started gyming because I want to look good on my wedding day, but working out is much more than just looking good.”
Age is no bar at the gym for Deepa, who is over 50. A retired Head of the Department of Economics at a leading university in Chennai, she says, “After an accident I developed an aversion towards walking. The doubt of having developed Parkinson’s syndrome began to haunt me. I searched on the www (her way of saying ‘internet’) for a ladies gym.” Heading to the gym has been the right choice for her because “I lost 22 kg in nine months and proved my neurologist husband wrong. He asked me to sit at home and here I am, more confident and stronger.” While many want to look attractive, young and fit, Deepa wants to “gift a healthy body to my old age.”
Seetha Muthukumar, proprietor of Pink Gym says, “Today weight loss programmes are personalised packages; customers can opt for a trainer and keep a tab on their diet diaries. They can choose between inch-loss programmes and weight-loss programmes.” As for the age groups, “20–40 are the ones who work out most but we do have few customers over 50.” She also adds that “people come here to gain weight as well.” Six years in the gym business “is profitable and a feel good factor,” for her.
Talking about diets, Mythili, a physiotherapist and gym trainer says, “Crash diets are never a solution. Proper exercise topped with a balanced diet gives lasting results.” On strength training for women, she says, “It’s important for the body to burn existing calories through cardio exercises first. Then the strength exercise which is specific to each muscle comes into play.”
Leaving behind a candlelit dinner, romantic movie or a hand-in-hand stroll on the beach, couples in India are sprinting towards the gym — the latest hotspot to strengthen not just muscles but relationships too. With gyms offering couple packages, the number of women dragging their husbands to the gym has increased. “Spouses are worried if their better halves would still be attracted to them, post weight gain, pregnancy, surgery etc. Going to the gym not only increases the confidence, it also improves the couple’s chemistry,” says Lakshmi Subha, a Kerala-based homeopathy specialist.