|A senior citizen tries his hands at lifting weights at Gold’s Gym in Rajendra Nagar and (above) another elderly person works out on a treadmill at Doyen Gym on Frazer Road. Pictures by Ranjeet Kumar Dey
S.K. Tripathi can look into the mirror and get an affirmative answer when he asks: “Who’s the handsomest of them all?” thanks to his regular gym sessions.
The 64-year-old former deputy superintendent of police spends half-an-hour every day at Gold’s Gym in Rajendra Nagar with the sole purpose of keeping his debonair looks weathering with age.
“Looking good is not the right of young people only. Senior citizens, too, have the right to look good,” Tripathi told The Telegraph. “So, I decided to join the gym five months back.”
His friends might not thank him for it, but Tripathi is not hesitant to claim that he is still the most handsome among them. “Most of my friends have wrinkles and slack skin. But I am still handsome thanks to my workout sessions,” said Tripathi, who retired in 2005.
Looking good, though, was not the only motive Tripathi had when he joined the gym.
“Even after retirement, I have kept myself busy with my business. It was important for me to stay fit so that I could give cent per cent to my job,” he said.
The retired police officer also said elderly people often lack stamina and get tired easily. “Keeping fit is essential at any time in our lives,” said Tripathi, adding that a fit person can face any challenge or adverse situation without being daunted.
The germ of wisdom in Tripathi’s words is undeniable, considering the recent spurt in attacks on senior citizens in the city. On January 17, two men attacked 70-year-old Dulli Devi at her flat in Malahi Pakhri, tied her up and assaulted her, before decamping with money and valuables. The incident has prompted the police to re-launch the scheme of verifying regular visitors to tenements, like domestic help and salesmen.
Like Tripathi, Colonel B.P. Singh has been a health freak all his life. At 78, he is still fighting fit. “If we don’t take care of ourselves, we become dependent on others in old age,” he said. “So, I joined a gym to keep myself fit.”
Others claim that they drifted into the fitness routine quite by chance. Rana Ranjit Singh was visiting his daughter in Pune when he ventured into the gym in her housing society. The experience was an eye-opener for the 68-year-old erstwhile deputy general manager of United India Insurance Company.
“Earlier, I would sit idle at home and get bored. But after joining the gym, I have made many friends. The regular exercise also helps me keep in good shape,” he said.
So what kind of exercises do senior citizens perform? “We don’t prescribe the same exercise to them as we do for younger people for obvious reasons,” said Amin Khan, the technical expert at Doyen Gym on Frazer Road.
He added: “When a senior citizen comes to our facility, I run a few checks on them. I find out if they are suffering from ailments and how flexible they are. Then, I give them exercises depending on their body type.”
The workout session can include various cardio-vascular exercises, a little time on the treadmill or on the cycle, and a little weightlifting.
“We ask senior citizens to exercise with 2kg weights. It’s good for them,” said Amin.
The results are obvious. “After my retirement, I used to walk in the morning. But that was not helping me. So, I joined a gym and lost 4kg in a month,” said Abhijeet Banerjee, 62, retired additional general manager of State Bank of India.
Keeping fit and looking good are not the only incentives for going to a gym. It is also a sort of a fashionable trend.
“Walking in the morning is passé. So more and more people are coming to gyms,” said Akashdeep, the owner of Gold’s Gym.
He added: “Around 50 of our members are senior citizens. It’s a sort of a craze.”