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A different take on getting fit

Friday, 6 June 2014 - 6:55am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Ditch your dreary gym workout. Whether you want to prowl like a tiger, shoot like the sheriff or ride like the royalty, here are a few offbeat fitness offerings of SoBo

Tai chi
After college, young Robin Louis was at a bit of a loose end. He could not seem to find anything that really satisfied him. That is until he came across Tai chi and Qi gong, the ancient martial art forms where slow, precise movements are coupled with breath control and inner awareness. Now, 12 years later, he is a Level Four Tai chi practitioner and together with his teacher, Christopher Fernandes, has started Sevangee, an organisation dedicated to spreading awareness about the martial art, in Napeansea Road.


According to Louis, “The roots of Tai chi can be traced back to ancient Indian yogic practices that travelled with the spread of Buddhism to Tibet and then on to China. Today’s tai chi movements are said to have been created by a Chinese Taoist master Chan San Feng, after watching a fight between a crane and a snake.” Louis teaches his students, across ages, in how to pounce like a tiger and coil like a deer—all the while reducing blood pressure, reversing digestive problems and burning fat.

Malabar Hill-resident Vikram Gupta, one Louis’ students, has been learning tai chi for several months. “I have always been intrigued by Tai chi, its deliberate slowness, the balance of it. Our lives are so fast, whereas the slower you are, the higher up the tai chi ladder you go,” he says. The next step for Sevangee is a two-year course in qi gong, slated to start in the next few months. Qi gong (‘qi’ is ‘internal energy’ and ‘gong’ means ‘work’) uses a mix of postures, movements, breath manipulation and meditation to build ‘qi’ in the body.
For more details, log on to www.sevangee.com

Balance to Beats
The Napeansea Road tai chi class is just one of the courses that have sprung up under the umbrella of Neha Kothari’s Seventh Sense, an atypical wellness centre that acts as a confluence of different movement forms. Kothari, a practising physiotherapist from Napeansea Road, teaches the Balance to Beats Stability Works class, which uses a plethora of props (and music) to imbibe grace, mobility, skill and balance through exercise. “Sometimes people suffer from minor problems…simple things like a heaviness in the head when scrolling down a page too fast or dizziness when looking left and right before crossing a road. They do not have too many suitable workouts that target these symptoms. This class especially helps people with vertigo and sportspeople like marathoners, who tend to use force rather than skill.”
For more details, log on to www.theseventhsense.in

Horse riding
Fancy a turn as the horse whisperer? Take your first step by enrolling for a ten-day camp with the Amateur Riders’ Club (ARC) at Mahalaxmi Race Course. Instructors from one of India’s oldest and largest civilian riding and polo clubs teach non-members how to mount, ride, dismount, trot, canter and gallop. “Many of the people we work with are army officers, who have had equestrian experience, so you are in good hands,” says Aparna Gupt, Joint Secretary of the Amateur Riders’ Club. Shalini Mehta, a Breach Candy resident whose daughter attended the camp, is all praises for ARC. “It is a great way to get fitter while spending time outdoors. My daughter had a great experience getting sensitised to animals.” All you need to do is kit yourself out in boots, breeches, body protector and riding hat and you will be hot to trot in no time.

For more details, log on to

Take aim at the Maharashtra Rifle Association in Worli, the apex body for shooting sports (pistol and rifle) in Maharashtra. Here, you can practise your shooting skills on modern ranges of 10, 25 and 50m, under the experienced eye of national shooting champions. Kainaz Amrolia, who lives in Tardeo and enjoyed the basic course, believes, “It really improved my concentration and hand eye co-ordination as well as strengthened my arm.” The pistol courses are especially popular and conducted by Sheila Kanungo, Commonwealth Games medallist. Kanungo explains, “The courses, which are introductory in nature, enable you to understand the technique of shooting, give you a reasonable idea of whether you have an aptitude towards it and whether you want to continue. You would need to practise for a couple of months before you are ready to participate in the novice level competitions.”  
For more details, log on to www.maharifle.org.

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