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The Gym lords of Lucknow
Fitness Centres and Gyms are the latest craze in the city of Nawabs known for Adaab, Paan, Giloari, Nafasat and Nazakat.

NAWABS, NAFASAT, Tehzeeb and Muscles are an odd combination, whoever heard of a muscular nawab? But for the first time 'me first' has given way to 'you first' in the Gyms of Lucknow, and why is this so? The neo-nawabs of Lucknow wish to sport muscles like Salman and Amir Khan because they know the sherwani fits better on them. The Paan, the Gilori and the Adaab, along with a frail personality and genteel behaviour has now given way to swagger and muscles that threaten to split shirt sleeves. The gentle Lucknow lad of the old city of the nawabs has taken to bodybuilding with a vengeance. From amongst the refined and delicately built gentlemen living in the narrow lanes of the old city, a new breed of burly soft spoken body builders is emerging. They use the famous Lucknow cliché in the gym too and say “pehle aap” (you first) to their fellow body builders.

So when it comes to a bench press don’t be too surprised if your partner says “pehle aap”. However, the phenomenon that is gripping Lucknow is being called the Salman and Aamir Khan phenomenon, where lads have taken to bodybuilding with a vengeance and several new bodybuilding stars are emerging in the city.

Wajid Ali Shah would have profited from a good fitness centre such as Golds of Synergy or Charisma of Physique in the city. It would definitely have helped him rum away from the British and regroup his troops. But then Awadh was not conquered brutally, it was gently annexed.

The gyms in the city have unique names, most of them are owned by builders, iron merchants and politicians or timber traders. Gold is owned by a timber trader and is in the rented accommodation of a jeweler, Charisma by a Punjabi family and is the rented accommodation of a leading Brahmin advocate. Synergy is the only gym that is without connections a pure service organization that promises results. Physique owned by Sunny Singh is the best furnished in Alambagh. Fusion the best designed though it is suffering from heavy losses compared to its investment.

While some Gyms have opened coaching institutes for coaches and Parlour girls such as Health Zone and Golds and Habibs the original training centre for coaches in Lucknow remains Synergy in Nirala Nagar. Ratnish Sharma the star of Talwalkars was trained here, Amit Gaur spent a year here, Wasim Rizwi of Gold learnt from scratch here, Sumit Kashyap of Gold spent a year here, Balram Vikas Singh was here and so were Zaim Zaidi Vivian of Fitness Planet and half a dozen others. There are two kinds of coaches in Lucknow … those who have learnt in Synergy and those who will come to learn in Synergy. While Gold and Health Zone charge their staff Rs 28,000 for learning the fine art Synergy does it for free for their staff.

Among the cheaper ones the names of some of the famous gyms are Fit India, World Gym, Power House and Power Health and Fitness Centre. While Mr Sharma and his brother own World Gym, Power House is owned by Arshad Bhai. Rafat Bhai owns Fit India. The godfather of bodybuilding in the city, Sardar Trilochan Singh is however a weight lifter and not a bodybuilder. The city was once known for Wasi Khan, a Mr India title holder, then came Balram Vikas Singh of Synergy who turned out to a be a Mr India runner up. However, the Lucknow boys usually lack the size and strength when it comes to the final fight with the boys from western UP.

Wasim Rizwi, a resident of Old Lucknow who’s father owns a zardozi factory says the reason for this is that there is a major difference in the diet profile of Lucknowites and Western UP boys. The Lucknowites do not include Paneer and dairy products in their daily diet which gives tremendous height and strong thick frames to the Meerut and Haryana boys, who normally top the list of bodybuilders. Apart from this the armed forces dominate the scene as their bodybuilders have access to unlimited food. They can eat up to 100 eggs a day and this definitely makes a difference, says Arjun of Synergy, the one body builder who insists that the best way to make a body is to avoid steroids and eat paneer and chicken.

Amit Gaur of Charisma, has different views on the subject. He is himself a vegetarian and believes that a combination of protein supplements, hormone based medicine and heavy weights can propel one to the level of a state bodybuilder. Even Salman and Aamir could not have done what they did without designer bodybuilding medicine and proper coaches, he says.

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