Besides seeking fitness, Kashmiris throng gyms to kill stress

  • UBEER NAQUSHBANDI
  • Publish Date: Feb 3 2019 10:55AM
  • |
  • Updated Date: Feb 3 2019 10:59AM
Besides seeking fitness, Kashmiris throng gyms to kill stressPhoto: Kashmir Ink

On a chilly winter morning last year, tech-savvy former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah uploaded his post-workout pictures on social networking site Twitter. Since the pictures were clicked in a high-tech gym in Kashmir, it showed the region’s different picture to 3.02 million followers of junior Abdullah on the social media.

Though gyms are not new to Kashmir, but over the years people especially youngsters are showing deep interest in maintaining their physique. The obsession of having better physique has given rise to high end, spacious gyms in conflict-ridden Kashmir.

While, there are gyms in the region that offer a membership for Rs 300 to Rs 3000 a month, over the years fitness giants have also jumped in valley’s growing fitness market, who offer a yearly membership that can go up to Rs 50,000.

“Earlier, there was a conception that going to a gym is all about bodybuilding. Now people have realized that how important gym is about their overall fitness,” said YasubWani, who runs Gold Gym in posh Rajbagh locality along with his twin brothers.

The gym is preferred by many influential people of the state including politicians, bureaucrats and business class.

Wani says at his gym, where over 600 people are registered, it is not only youngsters who like to hang out, but elderly people in mid 70s and 80s are also regular at his gym.

EjazAyub, a certified fitness coach and gold medalist in body building says though gyms are not new to Kashmir, but over the years there has been “amplification of self image due to social media”.

“I have been going to gym since early 2000. Earlier, it was looked as sports activity which included weight lifting and body building,” says Ayub, attributing it to yesteryears’ charisma of Bollywood among people especially youth in Kashmir.

Ayub says then this “craze” took a dip for some years. “It was largely due to veterans of bodybuilding in Kashmir such as MushtaqZargar and others leaving the sport and getting busy in other things in life,” he says.

Lately, many Kashmiri youngsters are flaunting pictures of their chiseled physique on walls of their social media accounts. This is where, Ayub believes, social media has also turned this activity into obsession among people especially youngsters.

“I have been seeing most of the times after or in between workouts, people are clicking their pictures and simultaneously posting them on social media. It is like amplification of self image as well as body consciousness,” says Ayub.

An owner of a gym in Srinagar locality and yesteryears’ famous bodybuilder, wishing anonymity, believes going to a gym has been “glamorised.”

“Before 10 years, you could easily set up a gym with heavy equipments for 10 lakh rupees. Now since people, mostly influential class, is giving preference to it, it deems to be a good business. This is where they glamorise it and play it as a kind of lifestyle. A sort of cool thing,” he says.

However, Ayub also believes that though earlier there was “passion” involved into going to a gym, nowadays it is more about being lean and fit.

Besides, for many people in Kashmir where conflict has taken toll on mental health, gyms are acting as favourite hangout places for people mostly youth to burst out their stress.

Lately, Kashmir’s female folk is also spending their time sweating inside gyms. In Srinagar’s uptown and also downtown areas, exclusive gyms for females have come up.

“My clientele includes girls having uncontrolled blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol. About 95 percent are those women having polycystic ovary disease (PCOD) due to which they are unable to conceive,” says Mehreen Amin, who runs a female gym in Srinagar.

Amin links these medical complications among female in Kashmir due to high intake of junk food.

She also believes exclusive female gyms have become stress busters for young women to hang out in Kashmir, where there is dearth of such places.

DrSamiaNabi, a gym instructor and nutritionist at Gold Gym attributes growing number of women joining gyms as increase in fitness awareness among them.

“It’s about being fit so that you feel more energetic in whatever you do,” says DrSamia.

Ayub also links increase in people preferring gyms to new age doctors in Kashmir. “Doctors are now recommending patients suffering from back problems, BP, diabetes to go for exercising in gyms. It also has to do with Kashmir’s freezing climate,” he says.

Whatever the case, gyms are turning out be favourite stress busters for people especially youngsters in conflict ridden Kashmir.