Power and toning

The last decade  has seen a big shift in women’s fitness: beauty means a strong body

  • Published 8.02.18

TRX inverted row is a calisthenic exercise primarily for the middle back, and also for biceps, forearms, lower back and shoulders 

The big shift that has happened over the last decade or so in women’s fitness is their own approach.

“Previously women used to come to the gym for weight-loss,” says Prasenjit Biswas (picture left), fitness manager at Skulpt, a gym in central Calcutta. “Now they ask for strength training.”

The culture of fitness has changed the perception of beauty. For men as well as women, it is not enough to be slim, or even goodlooking according to conventional standards. “Women want a toned look,” says Biswas. This does not come from a beauty regimen alone, even coupled with diet. Workouts come in.

Bosu ball squats raise the difficulty level of the exercise, engage many muscles and make them work harder with every repetition 

With the new focus, workouts have also changed. “For everyone, we focus on five things,” says Biswas. “Cardiovascular endurance; general endurance; flexibility; body composition, meaning the ratio between fat mass and lean mass and overall strength.”

There is no set of particular exercises recommended for women. But for women, in many cases, fat accumulates most in the hip region, says Biswas. Though for women such fat is helpful for biological reasons, for childbirth especially, sometimes this fat later turns stubborn. “It happens when oxygenated blood does not reach a certain part of the body.” Getting rid of this fat is a long and slow process and a lot of women come to the gym for this purpose.

Hanging leg raises: A stability movement that works on the core  
Split squats with dumb bell lateral raises: A compound movement engaging the lower body, shoulders and core muscles  

The number of women coming to the gym has gone up sharply in the last decade. “In the last five years, the men-women ratio was 70:30,” says Biswas. “Now in my gym it is 45:55.”

Here models demonstrate exercises that women clients are often advised in the gym. “They are for both the upper and lower body,” says Biswas. For toning, strengthening and stability.

More power to you!

Medicine ball Russian twist, a core movement not only for the rectus abdominal area but also for the oblique muscle in the abdomen. The medicine ball increases resistance 
Bosu ball chest press: Dumb bell chest press with bridge is a challenging exercise that targets the shoulders, chest, arms, hamstring and glutes

Please remember what you wear to the gym is important.

• Buy a good, supportive sports bra. It will help the exercise instead getting in the way, as innerwear can do if not well-chosen. A good sports bra will stay in place when you jump about or bend.

• Some trainers these days insist on body-fitting clothes in gyms, so that the body flaws are more visible during exercise sessions and can be better managed. Choose tank-tops made of good quality, sweat-absorbent materials.

• Bottoms are available in many styles: shorts, ankle-length tights, stretch pants. Choose your style, but the stretch pants should not stretch so much that they begin to sag and the waist should not give way as you work hard.

• Wear good gym shoes. Don’t go for running shoes blindly; ask for advice. Best to buy your pair from a store specialising in sports and gym shoes.

Models: Denise Paul, Anindita Mitter

Photographs: Rashbehari Das