Work in on week days, work out on weekends

When you get out of the house at 7 am and get back in at 9 pm after a gruelling day at the office, where’s the time to do anything but eat dinner and hit the sack?

And then… groan…¦ Start over with the same routine for the other four days of the week. Bangalore-based Kamakshi L K, 30, has come to terms with the fact that her life as a software engineer is not going to change. And that however hard she tries, she is just not going to be able to get in a 5 or 10 km run in the morning, something she used to love doing. Which is why she now crams in around 12 hours of exercise on her Saturdays and Sundays – literally one-fourth of her weekend. “I run, I go rock climbing, I play a sport called Ultimate (she says it’s a combination of rugby and frisbee), I make up for the entire week,” she says. She and her husband Narsimha wake up at 4.30 am just so they can finish their exercise routine by lunch time.

Kamakshi knows her weekend workout schedule means no late nights on the weekends, but says she does not mind because there’s no other way she can stay fit. “I party only if there is a long weekend,” she adds. Kamakshi is what the world of fitness calls a ‘weekend warrior’ , a breed of people that seems to be on the rise thanks to sedentary weekday jobs that go on for endless hours and commutes that make 12 km seem like a 100, leaving little or no time for exercise. What the weekend warriors do is that they grind away at their desks and cell phones all week long and then when the weekend shows, they lace up for the gruelling high intensity battle of the bulge they have chosen to fight for the next 48 hours. To put it simply, they have turned the mantra ‘work out an hour four days a week’ completely on its head. They work out four hours a day instead.

“You’ll find that this usually happens a lot with techies,” says Ajit Shetty, Chennai-based personal trainer. “They usually just try and maintain a diet or at least watch what they eat on weekdays and spend hours at the gym on weekends,” he adds. But it’s not just techies, students and executives also find themselves drafted. Bharath Anuroop, a 21-year-old IIT-ian uses his weekends for 50 km cycle rides, 10 km runs and long treks because his weekdays are so packed with tests and presentations that he cannot get a minute off to exercise. Vibhaker T K, 53, a television executive, finds he is under so much pressure trying to launch a TV channel that the only way to – as he puts it – “undo everything I have done on weekdays especially weight gathered” is to work it off on the weekends. Hence the 150 km cycle rides this extreme fitness enthusiast embarks on every Saturday and Sunday.

Gym managers say that what they have noticed is that, on average, a person spends around 45 minutes at the gym on weekdays but on weekends, the average is easily more than an hour and a half. “We have many weekend packages for corporates, where we charge them Rs 10,000 per year to use the facilities over the weekends,” says Leena Mogre, a fitness expert in Mumbai. “It is to motivate people to exercise at least on weekends ,” she adds. Ask any personal trainer in dance, aerobics, martial arts or yoga and they will tell you their classes are packed on weekends.

Does using the weekend for intensive physical exercise sessions take a toll on the body? Fitness specialists vary in their opinions. “We tell our clients it’s not beneficial to do extreme exercise on the weekend and do nothing at all on the other days,” says Mogre. “You just overload the body. As it is you are stressed out. And this is just putting the body under more stress. It’s much better to space out your exercise programme,” she adds.

But Chennai-based sports doctor Dr Kannan Pughazhendi seems to think otherwise. He says that as long as fitness addicts ensure that they are doing the right stretches, the right amount of warming up and cooling down, there is no problem. “At least they are working out. Even if you work out intensely two days a week, you will see progress,” says Dr Kannan. That’s seems to be the case with Kamakshi, who says she sleeps like a baby on Saturday and Sunday nights and looks forward to the week ahead because of her arduous weekend workout. A battle worth fighting, as the weekend warriors say.

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