The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Moms fight fitness battle
- Housewives and elders fill Mumbai’s gyms

Mumbai, Dec. 31: Mumbai’s youth may be the country’s most fashion-savvy but when it comes to toned bodies, look no further than the emerging brigade of gymming housewives and the elderly.

Some of the trendy, figure-conscious youngsters may have merely helped Mumbai earn the tag of the nation’s second most “unfit” city.

The third National Family Health Survey shows that 50 per cent women and 40.5 per cent men in Mumbai fall short of basic fitness norms, behind only Chennai whose women scored the worst at 55.5 per cent.

With gyms mushrooming in every nook of India’s financial capital, this may be a huge surprise for Mumbaikars. But not for fitness experts.

“People tend to equate ‘skinny’ with ‘fit’. They think thin people don’t need to work out; but not all thin people are necessarily fit,” says Yasmin Karachiwala, the woman behind Kareena Kapoor’s svelte figure.

“Many thin women who come to me complain of being tired. That’s not because they eat less but because they are not fit. Being fashionable doesn’t mean being fit.”

Gyms are no longer the place where nubile beauties and handsome hunks show off their assets, the experts say. But more and more housewives and the elderly have begun working out to keep themselves healthy. If the trend continues, Mumbai could soon lose its dubious distinction.

“The number of people coming to my gym has risen by about 50 per cent. Yes, the number of housewives has also increased manifold,” says fitness expert Leena Mogre.

Karachiwala puts this down to the homemakers’ changing lifestyles. “Earlier, they had enough exercise just managing their households. Now, because people have more money, they have maidservants to do most of the work. Their children are too deeply involved in their own lives and don’t need their mother around. This makes it easy for housewives to get out and do their daily workouts.”

Most city gyms now have special afternoon schedules for housewives, offering the opportunity of strength training and cardiovascular workouts as well as aerobic exercises. They have trainers to help out the first-timers.

“My day begins in a flurry of activity but after I send my kids to school, I have a lot of time on my hands. Since this gym is so close to my home, I just walk down to it. Many others my age go there, so I can socialise, too,” says 35-year-old Riya Nath.

The fitness mantra has spread among the senior citizens, too. The number of elderly members has doubled at Inch by Inch, a gym on Marine Drive, in the past one year. Almost 50 of its 600 members are over 55.

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