Fuelling Chennai: Flagbearers of fitness & form by Madras Musings – The New Indian Express

Chennai News

Express News Service

CHENNAI: From celebrity workout reels on Instagram to flyers from your nearest gym, we are constantly flooded with fitness inspiration. The motivation is everywhere, but most of them don’t advertise the true meaning of being fit to gain physical and mental strength.

But the panel discussion, Fuelling Chennai, organised by Madras Musings and spearheaded by journalist Rosella Stephen, shared the experiences of four experts of the Chennai fitness industry and acknowledged that fitness is about having the strength to face difficulties in life and building resilience through consistency and determination.

Evolution of fitness
The discussion began by addressing how fitness has changed in the city over the past years. Raj Ganpath, co-founder and coach at The Quad, who trains almost 8,000 people from around the world shared, “A few years ago, fitness was a male-dominated area. It was constrained to bodybuilding and exhibiting toxic masculinity. We often forget that it is about strength training and being better than what you were yesterday. When we started our institution in 2011 with 100 students, we wanted to make people experience the huge difference that fitness has made in our lives. Slowly, the misconceptions are changing and what gives me immense happiness is that more women are taking it up”.

The pursuit of strength comes with a plethora of options, explained other panellists who spoke about unusual paths of fitness training. Aishwarya Manivannan, owner of Maisha Studio and coach and ambassador of the Dravidian martial art form Silambam, through her agile movements and focussed swirls, breathed life into the 4,000-year-old art form. When she had picked up Silambam, 10 years ago, she was the only woman to be trained in a class of almost 50 students.

She didn’t consider it as something that holds her back; instead, she ventured into the experience with passion. “ I started learning Silambam to improve my Bharatanatyam skills. It turned out to be the one physical activity that made me not think about anything else for the two hours every day that I was practising. I wasn’t intentionally focussing on the presence of mind. Instead, Silambam helped me be in an almost meditative state, automatically,” shared the international Silambam champion.

On the other hand, Anusha Swamy, a pole art coach took on contemporary pole dancing and gave it a Tamil touch with the addition of AR Rahman and Ilayaraja songs while training and practising. 
“Pole dancing has completely transformed the way I look at life. My goal was to make as many people experience flying through this and change the taboo associated with it. Most people hesitated to adopt it initially because of the brass poles that require minimal clothing. To overcome that challenge, my friend Mathew Fernandes and his team came in with his company Sthenos, which manufactures poles with silicon covering around it,” stated Anusha.

An inspirational journey
When other panellists spoke about game changers in the fitness industry of Chennai, Vidya Gajapathi Raju Singh, the 69-year-old multi-hyphenate, wowed the audience with her achievements earned throughout the years by prioritising fitness. Continuing to train and exercise regularly, the former tennis champion keeps participating in the master swimming championships at the state and national levels.

She has trekked to Ladakh, Bhutan, Annapurna circuit, the Everest base camp in Nepal and Yunam peak. She said, “Being the daughter of a golfer father and a tennis champion mother, fitness was important from a young age.” The panellists agreed that the incorporation of fitness in daily life has changed their perception of life, and concluded the discussion by inspiring the audience to take small steps toward a fit journey.

Source: https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2022/sep/03/fuelling-chennai-flagbearers-of-fitness–formby-madras-musings-2494231.html