Be prepared for both, say fitness experts as they weigh in on team sports, running groups and useful equipment
It is funny how, when the lockdown was imposed, India collectively felt the need to go for a morning walk the very next day. Such sporadic enthusiasm aside, this pandemic will redefine the workings of the fitness industry.
I am a self-confessed fitness buff but for entirely tangential reasons. I work in the field of fine food and wine so exercising ensures my exaggerated existence doesn’t require a batch of pills as a regime. But the lockdown has meant that long runs are history and bike rides even more so. I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable handling public equipment in a gym or attending boxing/cardio class where everyone is panting heavily and openly. For answers on how to proceed, I spoke to a few veterans to get a better understanding of things.
Doctor Kaustubh Radkar is the only Indian to have crossed the finish line at 25 Ironman triathlons (and still going strong) and trains many a budding triathlete under his brand, RadStrong. Nivedita Samanta is a coach with Adidas Runners and the founder of FitRabbits, an online fitness platform. And Rahul Kaul is the founder of BoxFit, possibly the most buzzing boxing-cum-cardio fitness space in the capital. This then is their collective wisdom.
The big change ahead, as all concur, is that social distancing is here to stay. Radkar says, “Group sessions for runners/cyclists may be limited to a maximum of five people but once pools open, let’s see how they apply lane restrictions.” The biggest impact, according to him, will be in team sports like football and cricket, where we will see a lot more change.
Samanta enthuses that we’ll see a virtual training boom — ‘specialised programmes for all pockets’. “People will work out with family/alone or with virtual friends.” She points out that many gyms already offer virtual consultations and classes. “Packed gyms are over and expensive gyms mean fewer clients. But people may start preferring the outdoors — membership to stadiums perhaps — or invest in home equipment if they can afford it.”
For Kaul, this has “polarised the fitness community… certain people are looking to stay at home and get their daily dose via live workouts/YouTube videos or hiring online personal trainers, while others will be looking to move outside and go to studios and gyms”.
Nobody sees a shift in the kind of workouts one does, so muscle gym buffs will continue to pump iron (and knock back the protein shakes) while endurance athletes will keep working on that slow twitch and obsess over lactate thresholds. Kaul notes that there has been a constant drift from “bodybuilding to functional fitness, the kind that helps with daily activities and makes us look good”.
As for what equipment we must have at home, he swears by a skipping rope (also, from his Insta-feed, he seemed most elated to get his hands on a pair of dumb bells). Something else he features often in his videos are resistance bands. And of course, given his background, boxing bags and gloves remain his choice for a great cardio sesh. For Samanta, it might be the TRX trainer, kettlebells and medicine balls, but in most of her workouts she manages to make things fairly extensive with just a basic yoga mat. Radkar echoes the dumb bells, kettlebells and TRX for the strength seekers (also a workout bench if the space permits), while for the endurance enthusiasts he advises getting a treadmill. I concur, having recently tried to run a 10k by looping my 40m home parking. The next on his list is a cycle and maybe a smart trainer to hook it up to, which would allow one to train both outdoors and indoors.
So there you have it. Work from home and work out from home too, for most parts. Focus on form to avoid injuries and don’t stress if you skip a day or two.