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Community fitness groups, Instagram challenges & live exercise sessions – how Indians are staying fit under lockdown

With gyms, yoga studios and health clubs across India shut due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Indians are devising creative ways to stay fit and keep others fit as well.

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New Delhi: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And with technology, that way has become much easier. With gyms and fitness studios across India shutting shop during the national lockdown, many people have taken to home workouts either by following certain social media pages or handles, or by joining or creating an exercise motivation group.

Coach Siddharth Singh runs a mixed martial arts fight club in Delhi called CrossTrain. The gym shut shop nearly two weeks before the lockdown, due to Covid-19. Singh explains, “Ours is a contact sport, like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and boxing, therefore I wasn’t going to take any chances.”

Almost three weeks after anyone from the gym had trained, people started asking Singh for workout tips.”I was also being a bit lazy initially, but then started putting up a video a day to make sure everyone was still training and keeping fit.”

Singh has now also started a closed fitness group on Facebook where he shares extremely technical tips about boxing and Muay Thai, while Instagram is where he shares workout and fitness tips. “I need to make sure my athletes are in a position to compete in the second half of the year and don’t miss out due to this period. I also have a responsibility to the people who signed up to get fit. I put up a video of five different types of exercises daily, which everyone can follow.”

Also read: Life beyond Netflix — this is how urban India is keeping itself entertained at home

Staying motivated

People might be stuck in their houses during the lockdown, but this is not stopping them from working out together. There is 24-year old Richa Agarwal who lives in Vasant Kunj and is a managing partner at The Strategy Boutique who tells ThePrint that she joined a workout group started by her friends, shortly after the lockdown. “It’s not a very big group, there are roughly eight or nine people, mostly women and two guys as well. We call ourselves Fit and Fabulous. We ‘meet’ every day at 7.30 pm on apps such as Zoom or House Party and start working out together.”

How it works is that every day, someone in the group plans a workout and sends it to everyone in advance, by writing it up and then sending a video of themselves doing it. The exercises could include push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, standing kickbacks, sprints and more. While some people have dumbbells in their houses, others use water bottles. Agarwal said, “Its really nice to be a part of a community, especially during such times. Since I didn’t really work out before this, it is a good addition to my daily regimen and takes up my entire evening. ”

From actors to fitness enthusiasts and coaches, everyone is uploading videos of their home workouts on social media, for people to follow and get fit. And what has become increasingly popular is people challenging each other on social media — to either do 50 push-ups in a minute or a certain number of burpees or even a football trick. Upon completing the challenge, you tag other people to take it and thus the chain never ends, until a new one starts. For many, this challenge is key to feeling motivated.

Motivation is important, especially when you’re alone and it’s easy to give up or postpone your workout. Which is why 25-year old Krishna Vinod, who lives in Gurugram and a few of her friends have started a fitness motivation group while in self-isolation. She tells ThePrint, “A friend of mine put up an Instagram story asking if anyone wanted to join a fitness motivation group and I responded by saying yes. We all post workouts, share photos, help each other out with fitness recommendations and mainly just motivate everyone, so that we don’t get lazy and sit around the house. ”

What started as a group of 10 people has grown to three times that. They set a daily challenge, such as 200 burpees or 100 squats or 50 situps, explains Vinod. “Everyone is at different fitness levels, so we are improvising accordingly.”

Fitness live

The lockdown has led to a spike in online engagement as well. Fitness coach and consultant Manisha Khungar who lives in Gurgaon, says that since the lockdown, the views on her fitness videos have increased almost 150 percent. While Khungar did post videos earlier and has trained athletes and triathletes, now, with everyone at home and almost always on their phones, she is getting a lot more queries and requests.

“I am both a coach and fitness consultant, therefore I motivate my athletes and triathletes and send them workout plans, while also sharing fitness tips and my own workout regimen for anyone who wants to get fit.” Khungar’s workouts require no special equipment and are also improvised to be doable in small confined spaces. With the high response on her videos, she decided to do a live session on 26 March and plans on doing many more after the response to that. “I am going to push out almost five videos a week and start doing a lot more live sessions as they are getting a lot of traction and many are watching them.”

Even the CULT app, which had home workouts even before the lockdown, now has live sessions throughout the day. These include dance fitness, yoga, legs and core and full-body sweat.

Pallavi Bahl, Senior Associate, Marketing and Communications at WedMeGood, a 24-year-old who lives in Gurgaon, prefers the live sessions because “you feel as though the trainer is right there, in live fitness sessions, and therefore are a lot more motivated to give it your best shot.”

Also read: Potted plants, sofas —the ‘jugaad’ dumbbells for fitness freaks during coronavirus lockdown


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  1. I dig the trend. I think it’s healthy and will promote physicality in the country in the long term. I post workouts on social media as well. Let’s make this a community!

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