A well furnished, glass-wall, airy gymnasium with a number of women attired in colourful, smart costumes, doing exercises on machines and on the floor to the rhythm of popular beats… It’s not a scene from any Hollywood or Bollywood hit; rather it is a routine sight in one of the many fitness clubs, mushrooming in Karachi recently.
A few years back gyms, sports and exercise were considered elite class pastime. Physical fitness was identified as a luxury enjoyed by the rich and the celebrities who have enough time, money and energy to waste. For a common person, it was a foreign territory, but the way media popularized once alien trends popular and transform our long-rooted convictions is tremendous.Apart from designers’ clothes and cosmetics’ brands, the common educated women of our country have become increasing health conscious – thanks to several fit and fine type tele-shows.
The rapid growth of sports complexes, gymnasiums and health clubs in different localities with high-sounding offers and claims are a reflection of the emerging trend. Some of them are really good, offering yoga and aerobic classes in well-equipped centres under highly trained instructors. While others are just a source of earning money, making a fool out of women and are dangerous to their health as applying faulty methods such as rapid weight lose, special diet plans and syrups that assure instant fitness.
Most of the clubs and fitness centres which are located in the posh areas of Defence and Clifton are beyond the range of common women due to distance and exorbitant charges. But the ones opened in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Nazimabad, PECHS and Tariq Road etc., attracts an increasing number of educated, middle class women with reasonable packages.
Women Sports Complex in Gulshan-e-Iqbal is one such centre, run by the Karachi Municipal Corporation and is trying to cater to the increasing fitness needs of the women of the city. When the complex started in 1997-98, it had more than five hundred members which are now tremendously reduced in number. The complex offers full-fledged sports facilities including a health club, indoor games, tennis, badminton, basketball and throw-ball courts and a swimming pool but the quality of the facilities are hardly up-to-the-mark due to lack of maintenance and interest at the management level. Being a KMC centre, the fees is quiet nominal and so are the services.
A large majority of its members are local residents. But many also come from Federal-B-Area, Nazimabad, Hasan Square, Tariq Road, Shah Faisal and other distant localities. One of the students of the Women Sports Complex opined, “Our instructor is not professionally trained, neither do they give us any diet chart, nor individual exercise plan, but they are dedicated and work hard to keep their students fit by introducing new steps and improvements shown on TV channels and Morning Shows.
The interesting feature of such centres is the variety of its members. It attracts working women and housewives, young students, middle-aged mothers and grandmothers. I met a practicing lady doctor who wanted to lose her extra pounds, a school teacher who wished to get refresh and revitalise in the summer vacations, a government officer who found relief through yoga after a hectic work schedule, a couple of housewives with school going children who hardly got an hour to reshape their over-weight bodies, old aged women with married children, spinsters and students who are looking for fun and adventure.
The key motivating factor behind joining such institutions is the desire to look attractive. Some married women said that it was their husbands who encouraged them to join the health club to get smart. Some are there for medical reasons since their doctors suggest regular exercise and yoga for heart, blood pressure, asthma, backache, fatigue, indigestion, menstrual and other disorders.
Maintaining one’s health throughout a normal age-span brings with it many benefits such as a youthful bearing and outlook, a feeling of energy, beauty, poise, and the ability to relax. Yoga, meaning yoke or union, especially helps to discipline the body, expand the mind freely and bring out the ultimate best in all of us, i.e. the image if God in our hearts.
A popular misconception is that only fat, out-of-shape or ill people need to exercise. Or it is a professional requirement for showbiz and sports personalities. But the modern urban life style demands that every one of us should devote some time to physical fitness. Especially the youth which spends most of its time with text books and office files? And the rest in front of the computer or television screen. For women too, household work is not enough since it has become increasingly mechanical with home appliances. They need to participate in some sort of sports or activities that give exposure to their pent-up energies and keep them physically fit and mentally healthy.
So are you ready to chalk out your fitness plan and exercise schedule from today…?