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You enter the gym expecting life size portraits of Hollywood hero Arnold Schwarzenegger to be adorning its walls, a stereotype created in the very confines of traditional Indian gymnasiums.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 28, 2012 01:01 IST
Lovedeep Sidhu
Lovedeep Sidhu
Hindustan Times

You enter the gym expecting life size portraits of Hollywood hero Arnold Schwarzenegger to be adorning its walls, a stereotype created in the very confines of traditional Indian gymnasiums.

Instead, you see an Indian with muscles ripping out of every possible part of his anatomy staring at you through a dozen pictures. Running this two-storied fitness centre from a non-descript premise in SAS Nagar for the last 13 years, Ramakant Sharma, a bodybuilder and personal trainer, admits to being visited by an increasing number of 20-something young men asking for help in building six or eight-pack abs. Needless to say, they are also in a hurry.

Time, technique, but no steroids
Revered almost as a guru, Ramakant, a former Mr World, is training a dozen young men build muscular physiques. “These youngsters only want to look good. They don’t understand that one requires to have a balanced body and good stamina. It is only then that building muscles helps,” says he. For a fast developing city, Chandigarh has a swish set of growing fitness centres with the latest training machines and suave coaches.

However, despite the availability of the means coupled with growing awareness, why is the city population so clueless about the concept of fitness? And then there is the worrisome trend of intake of steroids and hormone-laden chemicals to boost muscle building. “You need a lot of commitment,” says Ramakant simply, whose interest in power sports grew when he was a swimmer back in the 80’s.

“When I was training to be Mr World, I went without carbohydrates for six months. But that was because of the event. There are ample takers of steroids now. Because of my experience in the profession, I guide youngsters to never take pre-workout supplements that lead to wear and tear of muscles. A balance of diet and exercise is the key,” he adds.

Ramakant also recently held Mr Punjab contest in the city, to encourage the region’s young blood to take up sports and concentrate on being fit. The winner of the contest, Aman Baidwan, is all of 22, which is a bit unbelievable if one were to look at his body.

No substitute for hard work
Harvinder Singh is an instance of dedication fetching results. A fitness trainer at Burn Gym, Phase 10, the 24-year-old has been training under Ramakant since 2008. He sums up what it takes to have an Arnie-like body, “It is all about dedication and sacrifice.

It is not for the lazy, you have to be highly focussed.” Harvinder is also a personal trainer and earns a hefty amount guiding people in the comfort of their homes. “Young boys who are hardly out of school are crazy about bodybuilding.

It’s a trend now. But, apart from training hard and spending almost R25,000 a month, make sure you stay away from supplements’ intake if you want a healthy body,” warns he, who plans to fly abroad soon so that he can earn and work better on building muscles.

Caution is the key
The good news is that it is not impossible to achieve a t-shirt ripping muscular body. Anup Debnath, a group fitness trainer at Bodyzone, Sector 9, Chandigarh, says it can take as little as two-three months to build a muscular body, but it is the lack of clarity about fitness that worries him.

The 40-year-old has been in the profession since 1992, and is a certified yoga and pilates trainer apart from being a personal fitness expert. He says, “Muscle-building is not difficult, but it needs the right guidance. The way you stand, your posture, holding the weight, everything is crucial.”

Anup also adds that is hasn’t been proven if supplements are actually efficient. Taken aback by today’s kids being sluggish and low on energy, he says, “Those who are truly dedicated towards fitness are in their 30s and 40s. The younger lot is malnutritioned with no stamina to even climb a flight of stairs.”

The fitness enthusiast warns against emulating actors blindly, saying it is essential to discover one’s strengths, the right food and sleep pattern, correct technique and the amount of time spent on training, which he says doesn’t have to be too much. “If you lead an active life, 45 minutes of workout a day is enough,” he suggests, hoping people aren’t misled.

First Published: Aug 28, 2012 00:38 IST