When he saw a fitness video that was giving incorrect information, Sushant Pradhan decided to make his own. That little clip led to a whole new YouTube channel and a popular Kathmandu gym, The Physique Workshop. Today, three years later, Pradhan is the most popular Nepali fitness vlogger around.
“I never thought my channel would be so popular, so fast. It is proof that the people’s awareness of fitness is increasing. They are prioritising health,” says 27-year-old Pradhan.
The word ‘gym’ used to be associated in Nepal with bodybuilding, mainly for men. The idea of going to the gym was to pump iron and have bulky muscles. Today, the concept has changed to overall fitness and wellbeing for men and women of all ages.
And Kathmandu’s new gyms have stepped up to meet that demand with places like The Pump, Platinum Fitness, Fitstop fitness, The Physique Workshop and Gymkhana Muay Thai. Befitting their playful names, the places offer cardio, weights and workout plans for people with different fitness goals, from insanity, yoga, High Intensity Interval Training, cardio kick-boxing, weight training, calisthenics, functional fitness to CrossFit and more.
One common aspect of all venues is that they were started by people passionately into fitness, long before it became fashionable to be a gymini.
“I don’t see myself doing anything else. This is what I am most passionate about,” says Raul Moktan, co-founder and executive director of Gymkhana Muay Thai, and a professional boxer himself. He gives his members a wide variety of fitness choices: from combat training to calisthenics, and high intensity interval training to spin classes.
When gym guru Sachit Pradhan, a veteran of Kathmandu’s gym scene, first started going to the gym, things were different. “All we had were basic free weights in a very simple space. There was no detailed guidance, the way it is available now,” he says.
Sachit and his younger brother Sachin have been training for over two decades and have learned about fitness through years of experience and self study before they opened Platinum Fitness Club. “People now are better informed. From YouTube videos to workout programs, everything is available on the net,” adds Sachin.
Gym members are people like Sheetal Rana, principal of Excelsior School, who makes time from her hectic schedule to work out regularly. “The most important benefit is that it makes you efficient by helping you de-stress while making you fit to deal with day to day challenges,” says Rana.
Staying fit is more important than ever because of the polluted environment, our stressful sedentary lifestyle, and unhealthy food habits.
“Throughout human history, physical activity has always been an important part of our lives. Movement conditions our body, sharpens our minds, keeps us alert and efficient throughout the day,” explains internationally certified trainer Ashish Yakthumba of The Pump, Nepal’s first CrossFit and calisthenics gym, who has trained clients aged 15-90 years, from athletes to people with disabilities.
Says Yakthumba: “There is no excuse for not working out. You have to give at least 30 minutes to yourself every day, for your own wellbeing and overall health. Movement and exercise is one of the most underrated forms of medicine and meditation.”
The stamina to workout
The global popularity of functional training has made it popular in Kathmandu. The Pump and Gymkhana Muay Thai was one of the first to introduce such a workout which, unlike conventional fitness routines, involves training with euipments like kettle bells, tyres, boxes, battle ropes, and TRX. Functional training improves our day to day activities by building strength, stamina, endurance, flexibility and mobility. It emphasises on our core strength and muscle movements.
The easiest excuse not to exercise for most people is “No time.” Yet, there are people who not just make time for workouts but even travel for hours to frequent their favourite gym.
Raul Moktan of Gymkhana in Maharajganj says some of his members come every day from as far away as Bhaktapur and Thankot.
Age is another factor people use as an excuse, but there are people over 70 who workout regularly and are fitter than people half their age. Ageing is a natural process, but how one ages is determined by food habits, fitness level and lifestyle. Similarly, there are children as young as 13 who have built the discipline overtime to take care of their health. How old or young one is, should not affect the goal of staying healthy.
“Start now to build a healthy body which will support you till the end,” reminds Moktan, whose Gymkhana is open from 5:30 am to 10:00 pm every day. “There is no excuse for not taking responsibility for your own wellbeing.”
Fitness does not necessarily mean visiting a gym. Workouts can be done at home, following a trainer’s instructions.
But in case you are not sure about kick-starting a structured fitness routine, you could follow a combination of basic body weight movements such as squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, burpees and planks. Working on your major muscle groups, these movements are not only effective and time-tested, but are also easy to perform anytime, anywhere. So are you ready to amp up your fitness and energy levels?