The fitness corridor

Cycling and running groups are ushering in a new lifestyle on Old Mahabalipuram Road and its surrounding areas, which include Tambaram and Velachery

Crops of tall buildings, some with fancy glass façades. Rows of food outlets for a huge IT workforce to fuel up. Fleets of private buses ferrying techies to work. Add to these, knots of cyclists and runners in the wee hours of the day, and you get a visual sense of the IT Corridor.

This section of Chennai — which includes not just Old Mahabalipuram Road, but also roads branching off it and the nearby localities of Velachery, Tambaram and Adyar that have been impacted by the growth of the Chennai’s IT industry — has been witnessing phenomenal increase in fitness-based activities. Running and cycling form the bedrock of this fitness culture. To enjoy these activities optimally, runners and cyclists take up fitness training along the way, aided by the groups that they are part of. For example, OMR Trail Blazers and OMR Dreamers — the local chapters of two of the major running groups in the city, namely Chennai Runners and Dream Runners — lay considerable stress on fitness training. Besides OMR Dreamers and OMR Trail Dreamers, there are groups, smaller but well-knit, that may have cycling or running as their core focus, but also promote a fitness culture through cross-training.

Cycling groups

Members of Chennai Joy Riders cycle almost every day, starting from Madhya Kailash and covering challenging distances. WCCG, the largest cycling community in Chennai has a thriving OMR chapter with rides planned and published to the group regularly. Other key cycling groups include Mudras Mustangs, Vibrant Velachery and G3 for women riders.

The features of these cycling initiatives: weekends are meant for long-distance rides and weekdays for strength training on the bikes. Event-specific boot camps are also organised for those preparing for a race.

Women’s health

An encouraging trend is the rise of groups with a special focus on fitness for women and children. For example, Fitzens, which focusses on women’s fitness, had 6 members when it started and has now grown to 25 regulars, with new joinees every month. It combines cardio, strength, neurobics, core and yoga in its fitness regime. There are also enterprises that offer fitness services to residents of gated communities and apartment complexes, taking the ‘training room’ to their doorsteps.

OMR also has a thriving sports culture, a fact emphasised by the presence of brands like Decathalon. Though gated communities offer facilities for sports, there is also a trend of centres — one example is Kriyates — that offer infrastructure and coaching for residents to engage in various sports.

Green spaces

Proximity to green spaces is also driving the fitness culture.

Beach workouts, trail marathons on nearby hillocks and natural open water swimming sessions by Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) help residents make the most of this geographical advantage.