Gyms in Jammu

Amit  Katoch
Jammu, the city of temples is   witnessing rapid vertical and horizontal      expansion, mushrooming of huge malls,                business complexes and food joints. Not to lag behind, the city is also witnessing growth of health and spa centres. One can also notice mushrooming of gyms spread almost in every nook and corner of the city having fancy names like Iron Muscles, New Tech muscle building       centre, Fitness Freak etc etc.

One can see GenNext guys rushing towards these centres in morning and evening hours. Decorated with huge muscle building portraits and pictures of international body builders, these young Turks consider them to be their role models.
Once inside the centre, one can see these boys working on latest body building machines, lifting weights, and doing exercises. Looking themselves in the mirrors fixed on walls, these guys endure every pain happily with the intention that one day they would come out flaunting bulging biceps and six pack abs.
These gyms are not restricted to boys only, but girls too throng these places to carve out a beautiful body. However, these centres in Jammu seem to be money minting machines than body shaping centres as these have many deficiencies in their working. Says Anoop Singh, “I was very much enthusiastic to join the gym so I persuaded my parents to allow me to join it. After much persuasion, they let me go. But once I entered, I found that the trainer was not much competent. He even did not introduce me to machines. But just said follow others working out on machines. I continued for some days as he had instructed. But even after two months he did not bother to provide me tips or prescribed any food schedule as is usually done. Then I left the gym in much disappointment. Since then, I have not joined any other centre.” Same are the views of Vinay, a teenager in 16’s. “The trainers do not provide necessary tips. It seems they themselves need to be imparted training before they join these centres as instructors.”
The problem rises here when the youth blindly surrender their body to someone who is untrained, unprofessional and uneducated to the ethics of his job. What an irony, for buying clothes we search brands but for maintaining our body, we give open chance to every Tom, Dick and Harry to play with it. Why we can’t ask these so called coaches for their professional background, experience and achievements as fitness trainees, or instructors. The study reveals that majority of the trainers in J&K failed to justify their job whereas these trainers, coaches and instructors are considered as the front line in the health industry.
The dogma that abs appearance can give you the right to train others is a cruel joke being cracked by these health clubs/gyms. A true professional has to be constant in exploring his own field and surely can never stop learning and researching to achieve the true art of professionalism. Someone has rightly said,  “if you want to be fitness professional, you have to go to the next step.” Getting in shape or training is a great starting point, but then you have to start and continue to educate and train yourself. Certifications, mentors, books, conferences, clinics and research are all imperative to become a fitness professional. So if you are not doing these things on regular basis (should be monthly at the least), then you are not a fitness professional but simply a hobbyist and anyone who is following century old  eroded practices in this field  has no right or authority to take responsibility of others health into his hands as their instructor or coach.
The situation is worse when we talk about infrastructure, diet plans and their supervisions. The blind race to build toned muscles sometime compels these builders to take steroids and supplements without knowing and understanding the basic difference between steroid and supplements. These are two different products with no similarity at all.
The majority gyms which do not have qualified medical practitioners or doctors  appointed are not legally authorized to give or recommend supplements as it may permanently damage vital organs.
The use of supplements can be allowed only after the user is diagnosed with deficiency of a particular vitamin, mineral or proteins, examined by the doctor with proper medical prescription and guidance.
There is vacuum of instructors in health industry and in these conditions to make mandatory or appoint a Dietitian in each and every gym will be a cruel joke to youth
Dr Vasantha Kohli, Head Nutrition, Dietetics and Therapeutic GMC Jammu strongly recommends only school exercises for children of 10-19 years of age. Children of this age group should avoid lifting heavy weights and tough exercises at gyms which may impact their height and growth of the body.
She suggests to consult qualified Dietitian to get their diet chart prepared. Youth should avoid the advice of these self styled fitness trainers/instructors at the unregistered health clubs. It’s good and safe to enroll after 20 yrs to any gym but diet and supplements are to be taken only after consulting a qualified Dietitian. She also cautions that extra intake of supplements without prescription may lead to overloading of kidney and other vital organs which may ultimately lead to various health problems. Therefore youngsters are required to follow professional instructors only and also should eat home made traditional meals avoiding the  junk food. So, always eat fresh and seasonal foods. Avoid frozen and ready to cook foods from the market.
The emerging strength and presence of Adolescents in gyms is also a cause of concern. Lifting weights, dumbbells at such as tender age can have severe impact on bones and other organs which ultimately effect the whole development of body. Dr. Sanjogita Soodan, a sports medicine specialist doctor who was with the Indian contingent at London Olympics 2012, Asian Games 2010 and has experience of interaction with top athletes and coaches around the world suggests that supplements should be taken only on the advice of a qualified  and specialized doctor. She strongly criticizes this notion of youngsters that supplements would make them muscular, stronger and lead to enhance their performance. No doubt Supplements if taken in moderation and under proper guidance can help a little but becomes highly important for the users to ensure that the supplements are dope and WADA complaint free. However, if taken blindly can lead to damage of vital organs such as liver, kidney and pancreas.
Dr Soodan advises the youth to be very much scientific in training approach with good nutritious diet and   hard work attitude which definitely will pay. Youth       should rely less on performance enhancing drugs or supplements and should always consult sports medicine doctor before intake of supplements or start of any exercise programme.
However, one fails to understand as to why the state Government has not any blue print for the gyms operating in the state. It is very pathetic that almost all the agencies including the Department of Education, J&K State Sports Council, Department of Youth Services and Sports and various Sports Associations shed their role, responsibility and linkage to the mushrooming and functioning of gyms.
The way present youth is fascinated to gyms compels very right thinking person to appeal the Government to prepare a legalized framework for the operation of gyms in the state so that the youth energy may be channelized in productive and healthy way.