The Sustainable Approach: Chennai’s Fitness and Health Goals for 2022

Caught in a plateauing third wave, Chennai is now taking a cautious approach to their health. Unlike before, the focus has shifted from turmeric shots to deep breathing. This change in mindset towards prioritizing one’s well-being began in early 2020 when people started isolating themselves as a precautionary measure following any sign of illness. While the early days of the pandemic saw an unhealthy obsession with immunity boosters and quick fixes, the approach to fitness in 2022 is more scientific and practical: balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.

One aspect of this health-conscious trend is the emphasis on movement. Chennai Parkour, established in 2018, has experienced significant growth despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. Their newly-opened Parkour Pod in Ekkatuthangal, spanning 5,000 square feet, is a testament to their success. The facility aims to provide a space for all kinds of movement under one roof and has seen a steady flow of new students and loyalists, even amidst concerns about the Omicron variant. Despite the difficulties of transitioning online, the parkour team had to experiment with new ideas for virtual classes. However, they consistently witness a surge of students eager to return to physical classes after each successive lockdown.

Mickey Mehta, a renowned lifestyle and holistic health coach with a 40-year career working with Bollywood celebrities, has also adapted to the pandemic by conducting more than 250 workshops and personal consultations online. Mickey’s focus during the past two years has been on Covid-recovery and comorbidity management. He creates customized programs tailored to each individual’s body type, illnesses, lifestyle, and personality. Mickey believes that the pandemic has been an eye-opener for many, highlighting the importance of self-awareness regarding one’s body and health.

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According to Vishal Kumar, co-founder of Chennai Parkour, the pandemic has brought many people into the realm of fitness for the first time, especially those who have never worked out in a gym before. He explains that when these newcomers join, they also become part of a community, which motivates them to stay committed. The realization that exercise is not just about physical activity but also about socializing, meeting others, and pushing oneself has dawned on many individuals. Soundarya Srinivasan, who oversees the virtual bootcamps at The Quad, has been learning parkour since 2019. She shares that her morning virtual bootcamp has attracted around 200 students, proving that a strong community can be built online even without meeting face to face. During the lockdowns, people craved structure in their lives, and they found creative ways to incorporate exercise into their routines.

Unconventional workout modes that don’t require equipment, such as masala bhangra, chair dance, kushti, and ballet, have gained popularity. Skill-based training and activities that challenge individuals both mentally and physically have also attracted many enthusiasts. Despite the constant opening and closing of classes and gyms due to lockdowns, trainees are learning the value of patience and consistency, embracing virtual and in-person workouts. Vikram Menon of SimpleSTRONG shares the example of a dedicated 60-year-old student who shows up early for every class and has achieved impressive results. He observes that those who register for online sessions often seek quick fixes, while those who attend in-person sessions tend to stay committed for a longer period.

The past two years have provided people with ample free time for self-introspection, leading many to make significant lifestyle changes. The Quad, which focuses on tailored and functional fitness routines, has experienced steady growth during the pandemic. With four physical centers in Chennai and a newly launched virtual bootcamp catering to clients in Australia, Europe, and the UK, the organization has demonstrated its ability to adapt to the changing landscape. Raj Ganpath, co-founder of The Quad, acknowledges that there have been occasional spikes in interest in self-care and mental health due to the pandemic, but an overall shift in mindset is yet to be seen.

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When Rahul Gopal, a sports nutritionist and co-founder of The Formula, contracted COVID-19, he shifted his focus to maintaining a healthy diet, ensuring sufficient protein and vegetable intake. He temporarily halted his six-day training regimen, understanding that the body needed time to fight the infection without any additional stress. After completing his week-long quarantine, Rahul resumed his training by pacing himself. He emphasizes the importance of eating well and engaging in simple exercises, as these habits contribute to a faster and more effective recovery. Rahul’s recommendations for both COVID-19 survivors and those who haven’t contracted the virus remain the same: consume adequate protein, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and carbohydrates from sources like grains, potatoes, bread, or fruit. Following this diet ensures that most nutrient and micronutrient deficiencies are addressed.

Mickey Mehta reiterates the significance of basic lifestyle changes in building a stronger body. He advises starting the day with breakfast followed by soaking in the morning sun and taking an air bath by simply standing in front of a window. Physical warm-up exercises and practicing surya namaskar (sun salutations) help in promoting overall wellness. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 often seek specific advice on how to resume their fitness routine. Raj Ganpath explains that the recommendation varies based on the severity of the infection. Mild cases typically begin with low-intensity activities like walking and gradually progress to more challenging exercises as endurance improves.

As for the much sought-after immunity hacks, consistency is key. Raj Ganpath advises individuals to stay active, as it automatically leads to improved health and immunity. The shift towards a more comprehensive approach to health and fitness in Chennai reflects a societal awakening encouraged by the pandemic. People have come to realize the importance of physical activity, balanced nutrition, and lifestyle modifications in maintaining overall well-being. Instead of relying on quick fixes, individuals have embraced a scientific and practical approach to their health, ensuring a healthier future for themselves and their communities.

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