A new exercise programme cropping up in cities across the country has fitness enthusiasts working their muscles at farms, by taking on a range of duties.
From a four-hour ‘farmhand’ workout on the outskirts of Chennai to an ‘agri cult’ routine at an organic farm a few miles outside Bengaluru, the “original workout” – as the fitness trainers call it because it’s what “our ancestors did for exercise” – seems to be getting popular for its functional rigour.
“The workout involves bathing horses, bundling and carrying grass for the farm animals, lifting logs, drawing water from the well, sowing seeds, and sieving and tilling the soil,” says S Murugappan, the brains behind the functional farm fitness workout for both adults and children at `The Farm’ in Semmancheri, b Chennai. t Currently functioning only every b alternate weekend, the fitness trainer plans to make the four-hour Saturday regime a permanent affair. “With every exercise, we talk about the muscles being worked,” adds Murugappan, explaining for instance that while using the pulley the lats, core and upper body muscles are engaged; milking the cow uses the legs and core because it is a full squat; and prepping the field strengthens the core and back.
In between the farm activities, mini workout sessions are also conducted. “All the activities engage the whole body in different ways,” says Murugappan. “As for calories burnt, we have different age groups who burn calories at different rates. However, we estimate that an individual will burn close to 500 calories totally,” adds.
In Bengaluru earlier this year, Abhinav Shankarnarayan of Namma Crossfit took 30 of his clients out to an organic farm in Mandya, 100km from the city, to ‘put fitness to use’.”People who train in the gym don’t get a chance to express their fitness or see it work in a practical setting,” says Shankarnarayan. “We had the group till the land and sow. It was basically a day in the life of a farmer,” he adds.
For Rashmi D, a publisher, the farm workout in Chennai was not just good physical training but a great parent-child bonding exercise too. “It was fun and exciting for the kids but it was also a strenuous work out. It felt like a strength training and cardio routine, but more natural. Everyone was wiped out by lunch time,” says the mother of a three-year-old.
According to sports physician Dr Kannan Pugazhendi, any fitness programme that improves quality of life is worth a shot.
“With the farm workout, you have an exercise programme out in the sun, in an oxygen-enriched surrounding, so it is really not a bad idea. Farm exercises are also more low intensity but sustained workouts. So, as long as the activities are planned under proper guidance, it seems a good cardio workout,” says Dr Pugazhendi.