The signs are ominous – look around and the indications that our population is gradually growing larger are evident. More serious is the fact that one in four Sri Lankans have Diabetes.
Consumption of processed carbohydrates, copious amounts of sugar and a sedentary lifestyle have all contributed to a rather worrying picture. The reality is that humans become obese largely through food consumption.
But hope appears on the horizon with the fitness industry in Sri Lanka emerging beacon-like in the way of excellent gyms opening up in the suburbs. Not long ago, fitness-conscious Sri Lankans living in the suburbs had to trudge to one of the five-star hotels in Colombo to work out at a gym. Not anymore. Clean, well-equipped gyms are part of the suburban landscape now – and there is no reason why people should not patronise them more.
Maduranga Perera, 36, is a passionate believer in the theory “Fitness is Life Itself”. Young, dynamic, devastatingly good looking and totally dedicated to the cause, Maduranga’s ripped body houses a mind that is a repository of fitness awareness.
Four years ago, he set up Lifetime Fitness, Talawathugoda, fulfilling a dream that began at the age of 18. With seven years of being a fitness instructor in Qatar, Maduranga is proud to say that he is a certified instructor with enough knowledge to turn the most out-of-shape persons fitness levels around. “Obtaining a fit body has to do with receiving the right instructions and the right techniques; irreparable damage can be caused to a person’s body without these” he emphasises. “Although today there, are certified courses available, as recently as 12 years ago, there were none”.
In time, Lifetime Fitness grew rapidly in popularity that a second branch in Udahamulla, Nugegoda commenced with Pulasthi Bethmage, 26 who initially ventured in as a client, but soon became a partner in the business. Pulasthi was then an IT student but he had the verve to venture out into the fitness industry. He juggles his full-time job as an IT specialist while handling the gym administration and personal training. With just seven employees, the service rendered towards gentrification of the outer suburbs is commendable.
Pulasthi is part of a new breed of “Young Turks” – intrepid young people who have entrepreneurship entrenched in their psyche. He is passionate about fitness and about spreading his knowledge and expertise to those who need it most. A day that begins at 4.45 a.m. ends at 10.30 p.m. which is testament to his dedication and passion.
Yet for all their commitment and enthusiasm, Maduranga is rueful that women in Sri Lanka are by and large reluctant users of gyms. “Sri Lankan girls have shapely bodies but that is hard to maintain because of the lack of physical fitness”, he admonishes.
Emphasising that while Sri Lankan girls largely espouse the “Latina” frame of shapely buttocks and petite frames, that soon crumbles with increasing fat build up. The duo was emphatic that gyms were not places where muscular, toned men heave and lift weights. “A safe, comfortable and clean environment, right down to the aesthetics like interior colours have to be considered”, said Maduranga. He added “As pretty as Sri Lankan women are, their posture is not correct. If they can head to the gym and just do squats and deadlifts, their posture would improve vastly”.
It is how our modern-day life pans out – we work long hours and sweating out at the gym is last on our weary agendas. However, it has been proved that results obtained from a fitness regime can spur an addiction to exercise and fitness that is productive. In many developed countries, corporates factor in a gym membership in an employment package. This is to ensure that a healthy workforce is a productive workforce.
Both young men are determined to spread the message of fitness as a lifestyle choice for everyone. Recognising that customers treat gyms as their refuge and solace, they are always on hand to provide that fillip to a wilting morale with their exuberance, solid work ethic and resources of knowledge to achieve a healthy body and mind.