While staying fit has finally gotten ingrained into the psyche of the new-age Hyderabadi, 2023 seems to be about cherry-picking those fitness forms that are aligned with one’s personality. Fitness aficionados in the city have started experimenting with new forms of working out or at least a new version of an old form to find their groove. Silambam, pole fitness, soft rock climbing, Evolve Yoga, and more are what they are embracing. We talk to a few Hyderabadis for whom it seems to be working out damn well. Wow! finds out what works, what doesn’t
By Manju Latha Kalanidhi
Yoga has got a wheel and city fitness junkies are embracing Silambam to get a new kick out of their workouts.
Stick With It
“I must confess that I get restless and get bored faster than you can say “conventional.” While treadmills and dumbbells are always there, I felt the itch for something more. At that point I thought Silambam was wildly different – an ancient martial art form with a stick,” says N Charitha who has been working out four times a week for the last 10 years. She works with a pharmaceutical company and says her work is as exciting as her diverse workout routine.
Armed with a stick and fuelled by excitement, Charitha started learning this new skill at home. After a relentless search, she finally found a local trainer last year. She was his student number one although later her friend’s daughter joined the class. A few weeks into it, she realized it was not merely about muscle; it was a symphony of strikes and movement. “With every twirl and spin, there were more moments of me hitting my head. People at home I’m sure were very amused. Some even advised me that I must pursue karate instead,” says Charitha.
It wasn’t easy. One needs to be immensely flexible to be able to spin and it involves every muscle in the body. Not to forget how the stick bruises one’s palms. And yet, amid the chaos and moments of bafflement, she discovered an unexpected treasure – the joy of learning, the exhilaration of mastering, and the sheer thrill of embracing the unconventional. “I call it my moving meditation that calmed the mind’s chaos while electrifying the body’s core. And apparently, it improves handwriting, but sadly we only type these days,” she quips.
Coming across Silambam: During her Master’s, she did her thesis on Akira Kurosawa and one of the movies she researched was Seven Samurai. That’s how her fascination with everything ninja-esque began. It started purely for fitness. It seemed like a fun way to stay active. What’s most fascinating about it, she shares, is that it can be learnt in one’s backyard and all you need is a stick. Regarding her level of proficiency in Silambam she says, “Graduated to a sword (wooden) from a stick.”
Monthly fee: Rs 1,000 per class
Where: Kick boxing, Self Defence and Silambam Academy, CDS bhavan, Mallapur
Timings: 5 am to 9 pm; 5 pm to 8 pm. Personalized timings also available
Shattering stereotypes, building a core
After about a year, Charitha wanted to mix and match her fitness regimen. A few months ago, she started learning pole dancing (also called pole fitness), fully aware of the judgments that might surround it. But she saw beyond those perceptions and only looked at it as a form of fitness. “I got pulled into it by some intriguing Instagram Reels. I researched for classes in Hyderabad and I discovered Pole Fit Bold Fit in Kondapur. I signed up and it has been quite adventurous ever since,” she adds. Actor Kriti Kharbanda got the world talking about Pole Dance in March, giving the new fitness flavors, a shot in the arm
Box: Popularity pole
The best bit about pole dancing: Like aerial yoga, it also defies gravity and uses the pole or aerial silk as a source of strength, balance, and fluidity
How she chanced upon it: Saw this on an Instagram reel and signed up, but kept it under wraps for fear of being judged.
The experience: “I pushed myself beyond limits. Each step towards mastering a new trick or hold demanded a great deal of perseverance and often came with a fair share of pain. I spent time practicing spins and climbs, attempting to gracefully defy gravity with every twist and turn. I dusted myself off after each fall and tried again. But the pole is very unforgiving. The bruising is unbelievable. I would come home and count the number of bruises. But the newfound sense of empowerment with every twist, spin, and climb on the pole, was worth the violence,” she adds.
The results: “Transformation both in my body and mindset. I’m waiting for my once-dormant core muscles to slowly transform into steel abs. While I value the empowerment I’ve gained by challenging stereotypes, I want to emphasize that I’m not here to portray myself as a strong woman defying expectations,” she adds.
Where: Pole Fit Bold Fit, Kondapur
What other fitness regimens do you need to do this: Ashtanga yoga
Fee: Rs 1,500 per class
Where: Pole Fit Bold Fit, Kondapur
Timings: 6 am to 9 am; 5 pm to 8 pm; They have group and private sessions and slots can be booked on their website www.polefitboldfit.co.in.
Rolling and wheeling
Wheel yoga or chakra yoga is what floats the boat of fitness enthusiast Sanjana Kamavarapu. Having learned yoga in Rishikesh for three months in her gap year in 2022, this young banker from Kondapur felt the need to level up yoga with a new spin. “No pun intended but the wheel, a new prop is giving yoga a new spin. It gives support to the spine or the core of the stomach and helps me stretch without the fear of imbalance, especially when I started. I have been following actor and fitness poster girl Shilpa Shetty and when she used a wheel in yoga, I asked my guru to add it too,” she says. “Wheel yoga is still not mainstream in Hyderabad as it took me nearly two months to find a place that teaches me this variation,” she says. Sanjana and seven others practice wheel yoga every weekend at Life 24×7 yoga studio in Hi-Tech City.
Fee: Rs 1,500 per month
Where: Infinity Yoga, Madhapur and Kokapet
Tel: 095732 36763
Timings: 5 am to 9 am; 5 pm to 7 pm;
Box: Know your nectar
Celebrity Yoga Guru, Roohi from Androohi, emphasizes the importance of discovering and committing to one’s personal wellness approach rather than constantly shifting between fitness trends. She believes that while the idea of exploring various fitness options might be appealing, it’s wiser to adhere to established and proven exercise routines for safety and effectiveness. Roohi boasts an impressive portfolio of clients, including renowned figures like Prabhas (Actor), Tamannah Bhatia (Actress), and Upasana Kamineni, whom she has guided towards accomplishing their fitness aspirations. Regarding contemporary fitness crazes like the yoga wheel, Roohi suggests that they could serve as tools to encourage individuals to step outside their comfort zones. However, she firmly advocates that once this boundary is crossed, reverting to traditional yoga practices yields the most favorable outcomes. To quote Roohi, the celebrated yoga instructor, “While fads like the yoga wheel can serve as a means to break free from comfort zones, the enduring benefits are truly reaped through adherence to classical yoga principles.”
“I would say that fads such as the yoga wheel can at best be a tool towards getting out of one’s comfort zone” – Roohi, celebrity yoga instructor
When Suhas Reddy came back from San Francisco to start his tech start-sup in Hyderabad last year, he did not miss anything more than rock climbing at Yosemite National Park. “Back in the US, I used to go rock climbing every fourth weekend. I recently discovered that some gyms in Hyderabad have rock climbing walls and have started visiting them. Although there is nothing compared to outdoor rock climbing, for a busy professional who lives in the concrete jungle, this works for now. I call rock climbing fluid Nirvana with an adrenaline rush,” he says. He visits Crag Studio in Gachibowli to get his fill of soft rock climbing every week. “It’s a full body workout that helps one build the core while strengthening arms, glutes, thighs, even fingers and toes. Which other fitness form focuses on fingers and toes? Among other things, it is a life skill worth learning,” he says. Best bit about it: Every workout ends with a sense of accomplishment, he adds.
Box: Rock and roll
Fee: Rs 550 per session
Where: Crag Studio, Madhava Reddy Colony, Gachibowli
Tel: 091009 44539
Timings: 5 am to 9 am; 5 pm to 8 pm
“I call rock climbing fluid nirvana with an adrenaline rush” – Suhas Reddy, entrepreneur
Mix and match
Kumar Mannava, Hyderabad’s best-known celebrity fitness trainer currently in the news for being one of the trainers behind the new ripped look of actor Jr. NTR for his upcoming pan India release Devara. Kumar says, “Yoga with weights seems to be what fitness veterans are opting for this year. The flexibility of yoga and the muscle building of weights is a marriage made in the fitness heaven. Fitness icons such as Bollywood actor Jacqueline Fernandez blend two forms of fitness – yoga with hardcore workouts. Virat Kohli also tries out a mix of workouts like a cocktail of weight training, aerobics, and yoga, stretching and cardio with weight training which includes movements like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. Taking the best from each fitness style to come up with a science and research-backed workout is the way forward,” he says.
“Yoga with weights seems to be what fitness veterans are opting for this year”
- Kumar Mannava, celebrity fitness trainer
Headline: “Yoga prepares me for the day ahead”
Lakshmi Manchu may have played many roles as an actor and donned multiple hats – as an actor, producer, TV host, mother and a vocal woman of today, but one thing that’s been a constant in her life has been her passion for fitness. For the last 10 years, anyone who has been following her on social media know that she nails it when she does the Sarvangasana. Not someone who makes a token post on World Yoga Day, she has been into yoga for two decades now. We talked to the fitness icon between her shoots and this is what she says:
What’s your workout style?
Where I work out depends on where I am and what choices I have. If I am travelling and nothing works out, I tune in to remote training. I have quite a few teachers I follow on YouTube for pranayama and yoga. In an ideal week I do three days of weight training, one day of yoga and take a walk in the park.
What works best for you?
While I do a mix and match of work outs, if I am playing an action role which requires muscle, I go for weight training. If I am aspiring for a certain body shape or contour, I do weight training. But my go-to exercise has always been yoga.
Yoga is an intense inside out cleanse routine for me. Last year I was shooting for Agni Nakshatram, an action movie I am acting and producing. I hired an Ashtanga teacher and I would wake up at 4 am and do the complete series of asanas, before I went for my 9 am shoot. No matter what anyone said, it wouldn’t affect me. Yoga prepares me for the day. We all lead stressful lives. The only way to stay calm is through yoga.
Riding the new fitness wave:
I am curious about innovations in fitness and would love to read and give it a shot. I have tried pole fitness in LA. It was exciting, but I found it supremely tough. I am not an outdoorsy, pushy kind of workout person. I would rather choose swimming. Among the most soul-touching work outs has been learning Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala. I practiced it for a few months and I must say, the experience stayed with me.
“Among the most soul-touching work outs has been learning Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala. I practiced it for a few months and I must say, the experience stayed with me”
Fee: Rs 400 per session
Where: Nithya Chaitanya Kalari
Tel: 89854 72274
Timings: 6 am to 10 pm
“ Among the most soul-touching work outs has been learning Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala”
– Lakshmi Manchu, actor, producer