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Fitness is her mantra

Posted January 21st, 2020, 10:20 AM IST

Fitness is her mantra

For 65-year-old Chennaite Suraiya Zulaikha, there is no place for ideas like cutting down on rice consumption in order to lose weight. “Overeating anything can lead you to gain weight. It’s not about rice,” says the aerobics and functional fitness trainer who once lost 12 kgs through diet and a fitness course at Slimmers club.

The chairperson of the fitness chapter of All Ladies League, Tamil Nadu who has trained hundreds of women in Chennai goes back to her early days and talks about her career.

“I trained under Stina, TT Vasu's wife. She sent me to London and Sweden for training in aerobics and after I finished my training in London, I started taking classes at Arogya in Vasu’s place in 1985.”

Almost 10 years later, in 1994, Suraiya started her own fitness centre called Suraiya Awareness Center and 7 years later she found herself joined by Nina Reddy of O2 health studio and then went on to be part of several fitness groups in the following years.

The fitness enthusiast, who has been ruling the roost in the fitness space, recalls her childhood. Kuchipudi exponent Vedantham Raghaviah’s daughter used to be drawn towards dance.

“I was very fond of dancing, but I started out with Yoga in 1979. After a short stay in Bangalore for two years, I came back to Chennai in 1980 and soon after crossed path with Stina Vasu. It motivated me seeing so many women going through such amazing transformation. And music coupled with exercise is always fun.”
Talking about fitness scene in the city, Suraiya says, “it has caught on really well over the last 25 years. I feel Chennai has come a long way.”

“The fact that I have survived in the industry for so many years speaks volumes,” Suraiya says as she bursts into laughter, adding, “I guess I have trained almost every woman in Chennai. People come to me, saying I trained them almost 40 years back.”

The organisation, which will conduct a walk in Anna University on March 8, in view of International Women's Day, has been holding ‘wake up and walk’ every day, as a lead-up to the main event.

“The ongoing one is open to all and people join in as we walk. Last week we walked in the Boat club, this week we are doing Marina, the following weeks will cover Besant Nagar Beach, Eco Park etc. The aim is to bring awareness.”