Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The oldest gymnasium of Mysore has a history of 76 years

One of the oldest gymnasiums started in Mysore in 1941, even before India became Independent, is functioning even today. The other interesting part is that the gym is run by an octogenarian, which was started by his father YVN Iah. 

Though people are familiar with modern day Gyms which started over the past decade, the ‘Apollo Gymnasium’ has been functioning silently in Vidyaranyapuram for the past 76 years, training lakhs of people in body building and fitness with tag line ‘Earnestness-Concentration-

Energetic and dynamic 80-year-old Y Nagesha Rao is the tutor. He wakes up daily at 4 am and keeps the gym ready for the students who start coming in by 5.30 am. He himself teaches every day around 250 students. He watches them closely for three months, studying their body fat, muscle structure, bone strength and then imparts training.

The students enrolled at gym come from all age group from 16 to 80 years. Most of them who are coming to gym for the past four decades and there are instances where Nagesha Rao has taught two successive generations. Those who have underwent training with five decades ago are presently sending their wards. He maintains strict natural diet without resorting to any steroids and muscle enhancing boosters.
The gym was started by his father YVN Iah at his residence in Chamundipuram in 1941, with 15 students for a monthly fee of Rs 3. His passion towards educating the people about fitness was so strong, he purchased a 40x40 site and built a gym, and started imparting training. His intention was to train people to acquire good health , which he felt was more important than acquiring wealth.

Today it is being looked after by Nagesha Rao, a retired physical education teacher at a private school, who was helping his father and today has dedicated himself completely to training students after his retirement in 1964. He is following his fathers footfalls and imparting training.
Over the past seven decades the gym has trained more than 1.5 lakh students and some of them who have undergone training under him have won gold and silver medals in weight lifting and best physique award in district-state and national levels. The fees is so low, he charges just Rs 60, with the only intention that all walks of people should afford to get trained for a good health. The fee was enhanced to Rs 60 in 2014, which was tell then just Rs 20.

The gym has no such facilities, like one can find in this modern days air conditioned gym. One can get to see only the barbells, Dumbbell, pulling machine, single bar, double bar, old mirror. Each of the gym equipments has his own history of decades, but teaching is imparted very scientifically by Nagesha Rao.
Sharing his opinion with Express, Nagesha Rao said: ‘This is not a traditional ‘Garadi Mane’, but a regular gymnasium. My father was student of KV Iyer, famous writer and fitness freak. I was just three years-old when my father started his gym. I love training and it gives me immense satisfaction and happiness. Imparting training is equal to touring ‘Punyakshetras’ for me, and I find solace in this.’

‘There is this popular misconception among people that better body can be built only by eating non vegetarian food and taking excess proteins, which is not true. There is no short cut to build body. One should work hard and build body, but not by intake of rich protein foods, which might cause side affects,’ he added.

‘Without taking anybody's assistance he imparts training alone. Now a days some of the regular students teach the new comers, but monitoring of all trainees is done by master. There are instances old students after a decade have come back and rejoined the gym. I am also undergoing training for the past 51 years in the gym, and even today my health is very fit and I don’t have complaints of what other people of my age normally complain,’ says  76-year-old S Basavaraju, who works out daily for one and half hours and has recently won gold medal in the below 66 kgs weight and above 70 years Master’s category.

‘Have hardly missed gym. By daily engaging in exercise there will be lot of energy, and makes us to be active always. Those undergoing training here don't complain of age related problems. Without taking any tablet we are very healthy and active. He guides us thoroughly and undergoing training under him itself is a bless. There is perfection in his teaching. He teaches with a dedication’, said Mahendra, an physically handicap who is practicing in gym since three decades.  

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