Body Building: Do you want to be Mr Kerala/ Mr Universe or just be healthy?

Have you seen huge hoardings of men flexing their muscles before gymnasiums? Haven’t you wondered how the winners of Mr Kerala or Mr Universe contests build such huge muscles and get it toned?

There is no doubt tremendous effort required to build muscles- it is through eating protein, calcium rich diet, taking weights, push -ups, dumb bells and variety of other excercises.  It is quite natural for boys and men to appear like one of their muscle flexing super stars. Are you healthy if you have muscles? Not necessarily. Ideally, if you are healthy you have the weight in proportion to height as measured by Body Mass Index (BMI), a healthy blood pressure, heart rate, pulse rate, having flexibility in motion and idleness, maintaining the right skin texture and not resorting to unhealthy pills or supplements to boost your body measures. Many people including athletes have tried steroids risking their careers.

Is there a way out to maintain good physique, be healthy without going to the gym?  If I am going for dance-fitness programs such as Zumba, Aerobics or personal training will I be able to develop muscles?

Fitness is attained through balanced food containing fibers, protein, calcium, vitamins, iron and lesser fats, carbohydrates and moderate exercise. When most people lead sedentary lives either at home or office, there is a requirement of going for a structured fitness programme such as Zumba or Aerobics. This will ensure that your hands, legs, neck, shoulders, knees and ankles are sufficiently shaken and ensures more blood flow, oil supply to skins which keeps your skin soft and looking young. Moreover, Zumba and aerobics are music based workouts that enable you to enjoy the routine and also feel happy as music works on the pleasure centres of your brain, and keep your right and left brain balanced. Dancing also does the same function.

However, just by doing stretching excercises or enrolling in a dance-fitness regime, it may not be possible to tone your muscles and give strength to your arms and legs which often are you tools to work, to fight, kick, punch and help in your locomotion. In exercise, dance and workouts, treadmills, cycling at the gym you burn calories, improve your heart rate, blood pressure and metabolic processes in the body, but muscles may not develop.

Muscles can be developed only by overloading principles (taking weights, dumb bells) and doing specific excercises targeted at the muscles.  The overload principle works on the assumption that slowly increasing weights can help build muscles, improve strength and muscular endurance. Circuit training is often used in gyms and martial arts such as Taekwondo to help build muscles. It involves a series of excercises to build a muscle group- in Taekwondo it may be the fore arms and legs. The excercises are done a sequential manner with no rest in between excercises.

Understanding body movements
Proper muscle building can happen only through an understanding of our body movements. Bones act as levers while joints act as a hinge and it is powered by muscle contractions. If you experiencing joint paint, muscle cramps, body pain while doing workouts or some physical activity which is beyond normal, then you realize your muscles need exercise and toning. When your muscles are trained to adapt to certain requirements or demands of the body, it gets imprinted in the brain through the ‘ mind-to- -muscle connection.’ Technically it is called the Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands (SAID) principle. When a particular set of muscles and their neural pathway to the brain is strengthened, it helps in firing the muscle fibers when required.

Advantage Zumba Toning
Zumba Toning is a scientifically designed programme that uses dance-based routines as in a normal Zumba programme, combined with specific excercises for specific muscles and joints. The highlight of the programme is the use of Zumba Toning Sticks that weight one and a half pounds that are used while dancing to provide resistance build up in your muscles. It helps in maintaining upper body and lower body rhythm and also strengthen your neural tracks. The hollow sticks are filled with a sand like material creating a pleasing sound when dancing.

Zumba Toning programme can be done as a standalone upto three times a week with each session lasting upto one hour. Or alternatively toning routines can be added to routine Zumba workouts to get the benefits of toning. Toning indicates appearance of firmness to muscles while sculpting refers to appearance of cut or striated looks to muscles. The objective of Zumba toning is to build muscle strength (force or tension produced in a short time), muscle endurance (ability to do prolonged work) and power- the ability of muscles to be explosive, quick and help body perform high intensity moves.

Zumba Toning was jointly developed by its founder the legendary Beto  Perez along with Linda Shelton, internationally recognized US based fitness consultant, Joy Prouty, Zumba Education Specialist (ZES) and also co-developer of Zumba Gold (for people above 50 years of age), Jani Roberts , ZES and a fitness professional with 32 years standing

(Aswathy Visweswaran is a pharmacist turned fitness professional certified in Zumba and Zumba Toning , also providing guidance in nutrition and diet.)



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