Global Tamilian: Health freaks work it out despite pandemic shuttering gyms

Despite being settled overseas, the Tamil diaspora loves to recreatethe life they left behind in India. Here’s a glimpse of their lives, celebrations and struggles on foreign shores
Representative image
Representative image

Chennai

Health clubs and physical fitness centres are the only resorts for good health, goes the modern-day dictum. More so, if you are a health freak in the US, yes, the essential requirement would be to be enrolled in one of the nearby gyms or physical fitness centres. Health and wellness checkups usually take you to the doors of gyms for enrollment as the doctors warn that the escape route to the slight variance in the health indicator would be the gym workouts.
In the month of March, when the gyms were closed due to the pandemic fears, many had shattered hopes on their health and fitness. Gaining weight and becoming unhealthy coupled with stress was what most feared for. After almost six months, gyms across the US are slowly opening up to welcome its members, but the six long months have had some magic and the mindset of people seemed to have taken a twist. How it all happened is a mystery but for many who are now easily fitting into their one-time tight outfits, and the needle on the weighing scale now showing very miserly numbers, have all the tales to tell.
“Last week our friends’ group met after a long time since March, of course, we met with masks and maintained social distance; to our pleasant surprise, most of us looked thinner than before. These are my friends I regularly meet at the gym classes. What could be the secret in losing weight in spite of staying home became our subject of discussion,” said Rajashree, a New Jersey resident.
“Six months of staying home and not going out to work, we hardly had the opportunity to wear formal clothes, and yesterday when I was cleaning my wardrobe, I wanted to try pants that would not get in for long and to my surprise, I was able to fit well into it,” said another.
“I have lost eight pounds in the last six months while I had gained 20 pounds in the past 10 years. This is such a super soothing tune for me, being a regular workout member of the local gym prior to the pandemic,” observed a mom of two.
While this seems to be a trend in most people’s lives, we cannot totally dismiss stories of many others who have added to their weight also.
Quite impressive seems to be the general fact that most have taken to healthier eating habits. The trainers in my gym usually say that losing weight is all not dependent on doing workouts alone, it is in making healthy and intelligent eating choices. In fact, gym workouts after a point were adding to the muscle weight that made you look heavy and yet it was healthier than adding fat in the unexercised body. “I see some wisdom in these words now,” exclaimed Rama who adds that she has been eating all these days home-cooked food with experiments on new recipes.
The pandemic has quite naturally shown us ways to stay healthy with home-cooked foods for all the three meals and hardly being able to dine out seems to be a major reason. Since we are all stuck at home, even the extra coffee or the coke that we were getting addicted to are now not in the routine. This has definitely reduced the additional unwanted calories that we were adding into our system. Weekends used to be chilling out time in restaurants. ‘I used to avoid cooking at homes during the weekends and in the past six months none of this was possible, while I was grudging to do the cooking all the time, my family seems to have gained by losing the pounds,’ is the general mindset among Indian American women who are fond of taking care of their family. Though the takeout orders and eat out menus are now available many are still hesitant to eat in restaurants like before.
Many people are now used to walking in the nearby parks and trails that are helping the health-conscious ones. “During the pandemic, initially we never were venturing out except for shopping essentials, later with easing restrictions we have always been going out on walks as a family. This for one reduces the stress on the one hand and also helps in losing weight,” observed a Connecticut resident.
All is well so far with the weather suiting perfect outdoor workouts, but with fall and winter coming on the chances of walking outside are almost shut. Most parts of the US, the winter is harsh and cannot be friendly to walk outside. Naturally, people are looking forward to the gyms to open but the fear of the virus being around is haunting us and taking one step back to using common facilities such as gyms.
Beaches have been one summer spot which was totally in use even during the pandemic. There were men and women who chose to be out at different parts of the day, some wearing masks and some not; some biking and some running on the shores, another healthy habit that many developed in lieu of their gym workouts. Many also had online classes of Zumba and toning sessions along with yoga that kept them physically fit and engaged.
Clearly, resorting to healthy options is always at the back of the minds for everyone, and interestingly during the pandemic times with the corporatised health clubs taking forced breaks, the common man seems to have found ways of staying healthy, shedding the extra pounds without costing his wallet. Will this become a sustaining trend is for us to wait and watch!
— The writer is a journalist based in New York

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