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Inactivity is a More Dangerous Pandemic: Pramod Deshpande

Bengaluru: Pramod Deshpande, originally from Pune is a software professional turned fitness expert with structured training helping people run irrespective of their advanced age. He heads the Jayanagar Jaguars Academy headquartered at Jayanagar in Bengaluru, which has evolved into a household name for all those enthusiastic and fond of running to keep fit. He dwelt in detail about the journey of Jayanagar Jaguars in an interaction recently. Excerpts from the interview:

How did Jayanagar Jaguars Academy come into being?
Pramod Deshpande:
Jayanagar Jaguars is a Running Academy we no longer call it a group because we do a very well-structured and proper training, whereas in a running group you come, run and go home. Here, there is a program with scientific training and a lot of other exercises, etc. I joined Jayanagar Jaguars around 2013 when it was only a running group; people used to come and run but there was no structured program. So, it was in 2014 when I suggested that we do something proper as I am a trained athlete, and then we were 8-10 people.

What about the structured program?
Pramod Deshpande:
Once, the structured training program started there used to be 70-80 people as running was not popular at that time but had started becoming popular. Then we discovered that people were finding it difficult to come to Jayanagar and we had to go to people. It was then we started thinking of having other centres. In 2017, the first centre we started was in Vijayanagar as some people came from Vijayanagar. Later we started in HSR Layout, Kanakapura Road and many other places totalling around 20 centres before COVID-19. However, the number of centres came down during the pandemic and after that, we have 16 in Bengaluru, five in Kolkatta, five in Pune, and one in Navi Mumbai. That's how people train with us.

Do you train people to bag medals?
Pramod Deshpande:
The idea is not to go and win medals: Dwelling in detail about the thrust of Jayanagar Jaguars, Deshpande clarifies-" The idea is not to go and win medals as this program is basically for your fitness. Of course, we participate in events, and people get medals. It is just like a pyramid and the focus will also pave the way for the desired results. The main motto is to create awareness about fitness and what we know is running and it is not just running as there are also several activities around running. It also involves gym and ground exercises, which lead to comprehensive training...

...A minimum of 600 people under training: "At any given time there will be around 600-800 people and sometimes the number goes up to 1,000 under training. However, on average at least 600 people will be on training while all these numbers pertain to people from all over the world, from Canada, the US, Australia, Japan and Nairobi...So, that is how the training goes through the App. Apart from the App training, there is also human intervention training, " informs Pramod Deshpande.

11,500 people trained so far: He also revealed-"So far, 11,500 people have been trained. For the first two years, we didn't have the data as we had no App then. The registrations then were done on the Excel sheet, but based on the data available, so far we have trained around 11,500 people.

How many days of course do you generally conduct?
Pramod Deshpande:
Typically, it will be a minimum of three to four months period. If it is for 10K, the training will be for 10 weeks. In case, you are trying for 21K i.e. half marathon we suggest 20 weeks of training, so around four months. Ideally, if people want to go for a 42K marathon, they should spend more time on training. If you intend to start from scratch and do a marathon, then you need at least 07-08 months of training. People also get trained for beyond 42K, like the 72-kilometre stretch of Ladakh Trekking Zangla to Lamayuru Trek and the 122-kilometre stretch of Silk Route and 100-kilometre races. People get trained for them and they need to undergo six months of upgrading.

What about people who run without any proper training?
Pramod Deshpande:
Of course, people are running just like that without any formal training. But, then there are chances of injuries and you will not be able to perform to your optimal level in the absence of proper training.

Do you also train people who would like to trek terrains like Kedarnath, Amarnath, Manas Sarovar etc?
Pramod Deshpande:
There are a lot of people joining the program during May for the basic program Fitness Through Running. That is enough for doing the Char Dham yatra and Gaumukh. All basic aspects of required fitness are covered in this program. Just two weeks back I returned from visiting Gaumukh and many other places. Many who want to do Everest Base Camp and Annapoorna also join as nowadays a lot of people wish to go to the Everest Base Camp. So, this way we train people for a lot of ultra events. There is the Satara Hills, which is a nine-kilometre trek like our Nandi Hills. That needs a different type of training.

What about the age group?
Pramod Deshpande:
The age group is anything like 16 onwards. We don't take anyone below 16 years. For those below the age of 16, the body is not mature and they have a lot of options to try out. Just coming on the road and running is like cutting off the options, which is not good. So kids should do jumping, throwing, swimming and things like that so that the next 3-4 years will make their body suitable for all other activities. Then they can come if they are interested in long-distance running and other such options.

Is there any upper limit to start running?
Pramod Deshpande:
No, there is no upper limit to start training. People around 80 years are into running while many people have started even at the age of 75 years, 79 years and most of them have never indulged in serious running earlier. Of course, as kids everyone does running. There are many people in the age group of 60-65 years who have never done any physical activities before.

So, as of now what is your goal?
Pramod Deshpande:
The big goal is now the pandemic. A pandemic may not be the right word, but for comparison, I am giving this word which is much bigger than COVID-19 which is called inactivity. Problems like blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular issues are a result of our inactivities. But, if we are active enough we will not get them. These days, they are attributing all such ailments to health disorders, lifestyle diseases, and mismatch diseases. So, worldwide this is a big problem. We are spending so much time managing these diseases by giving medicine. But we can control them and eliminate them but, we not putting effort in this direction...

...Five of Eight kids physically inactive:
The WHO started pushing a study in 2002 and later in 2012 which was an eye-opener to the present problems and all of us should take it seriously. According to WHO studies, five of the eight adolescents are not physically active. So, see where the whole world is going towards? This is very very important as the awareness is not there. So, that is the ultimate goal to ensure that the maximum number of people remain healthy and for that, we do a lot of things.

What about activities to involve women in running?

Pramod Deshpande: We want to get women into fitness because if one woman comes her entire family will push if she is convinced. So we have been organizing saree runs for the past eight years. What we have observed is when the regular lady runners are running the ladies who are not running used to think that these ladies are too different; they don't have any problems, but we have problems like managing the home and societal pressure etc. So, we said okay, one day let all ladies run on the saree. All have the same issues but the lady runners have given preference to their health. This gesture inspired the remaining ladies. First, we had a small run and took it forward from there. In this way, we started arranging it every year, which became a very serious initiative for us. However, at the same time, we don't allow men to wear on dhoti as it is not a fashion statement...

...7,000 ladies took part in the saree run:
Interestingly ladies take care of their family's health but in the process, they tend to forget their own health. They prefer to concentrate more on their family's health. So that is the message we want to come out with that your own health is also equally important. So, that is the reason behind the saree run. But, if you ask why only saree run; it is because that is the only attire which bonds women across the country. They might be wearing different types of dresses in different regions but all hooked to the saree as the traditional dress. We have been doing it for eight years and we have been doing it in Bengaluru, Pune, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. So, there is a lot of response for the same. 7,000 ladies participated in the Bengaluru event. We do a lot of free runs just like the saree run for which we don't charge.

What about the fee structure?

Pramod Deshpande: Here, we charge Rs 1,200 per month three days a week, with 12 sessions on the ground and two in the Gym whichever is nearer to you. So, that will be eight which means 20 in all. By and large, it will be 22-23 days in a month. Then, we do a lot of community runs including the family ones around our centres to attract people and families as the objective is to rope in as many families as possible. We also host breakfasts or giveaways to encourage people to become active...

We are wired to save our energy: I have also written a book in Kannada to reach more people more so in the semi-urban areas as inactivity is taking deep roots. Inactivity is no longer an urban problem as it has penetrated the semi-urban and rural regions as well. The reasons could be multiple like the TV, Two-wheeler, Mobile phone...I am not blaming anybody as human beings we tend to explore and it is all part of the evolution process and we are wired to save our energy. That is how we are and there is no point in blaming anybody because millions of years back also we were not in the habit of doing exercises. Before the emergence of weapons like arrows and swords, we were running behind the animals, making them too tired to kill physically or wait for others to do so. That was how our life and body were and it has not changed, but for the lifestyle. All our problems are called lifestyle problems. Then there was no type 2 diabetes or heart disease or all the ailments we are facing these days. Of course, people died from natural causes.

-Manohar Yadavatti


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