Express news service
When young people his age joined a gym, Satheesh M from Alappuzha, Kerala discovered a new health regimen. Formerly practiced by his ancestors and now largely forgotten by young people, this 40-year-old fitness enthusiast introduced the agro-gym.
No sophisticated fitness equipment is required for this natural workout; only a sickle, a shovel and a hoe. Using them, Satheesh has cultivated both his healthy and organic vegetables. The âagro gymâ is located on a small plot of land – barely an acre, most of which is used for agriculture.
Senior Assistant at the District Civil Service Commission (PSC), Alappuzha, Satheesh starts his day by plowing the soil. In season, it sows seeds for a new batch of crops. âIt involves a lot of physical effort. Not to mention managing and preparing for uncontrollable factors such as rain, heat, extreme cold, equipment failure and the like. But in the end, it’s a zero-cost exercise that keeps my weight under control, is good for the heart and respiratory systems, increases mental stamina and keeps musculoskeletal problems away, âhe shares.
It also improved his flexibility and stamina. Agro gym can be disappointing at first because unlike normal gyms, results cannot be achieved overnight.
Patience and perseverance are the key words. It took him a decade to reach his level of fitness today. âFood played a big role,â he reveals. Ripe red tomatoes, juicy brinjals, tender okra, long beans, plump bitter gourd, and snake gourd are all part of its diet.
âI grow different kinds of green peppers. It’s a cheerful sight – red spinach glistening with morning dew and pumpkins of all sizes in their beds. Variants of papaya, the aromatic scent of turmeric plants welcome anyone who enters. in this organic haven, âhe says.
For a long time, Satheesh despised agriculture. He thought it wasn’t for educated people. “When common sense prevailed, I didn’t waste a second to get started,” he shares. When the fitness farmer got a job at PSC, he realized the importance of good health.
He found that 90 percent of government officials suffered from lifestyle-related illnesses. It was worse for people who were nearing retirement. âThe reason was stress and long working hours, and people were glued to their seats,â he says.
He started going to a gymnasium in Alappuzha seven kilometers from his home, getting up every day at 5 a.m. It was a difficult program. Besides, it was expensive. “Then I heard someone say ‘a good fat burning exercise is to fill pots with water from the village pond to water the plantains early in the morning.’ I just took that advice.” he said.
First, the old gym rat pulled up the weeds growing in his dirt and did some ridging, which was a full body workout. âI started farming by growing vegetables essential for good health. I grew a variety of cucumbers, from which we made juice or salad. I then grew many other vegetables and fruits, âhe says.
Satheesh believes in engaging children in farming or gardening practices from an early age. They should learn to water plants and grow vegetables, according to Satheesh. He adds that his greatest strength is the support he receives from his wife Reshmi and his three children.
The agro gym has inspired many. Many young people and women from her village have expressed their interest and promised to make bioagriculture a way of life. “Those who have tried it say it’s much more beneficial than HIIT exercises in gyms. Just plowing the ground with a hoe is equivalent to 20 repetitions of squats and Crossfit exercises.” , explains Satheesh.
Exercise and nutrition aside, farming reduces the risk factors associated with the unpredictability of our times like the pandemic. âAgriculture makes you self-sufficient. It gives you the confidence to face difficult situations. It teaches you patience and helps you come to terms with the failures that sometimes come with organic farming. These are all very useful things for living a full life, âhe says.
As part of the farm-health concept, his project is to include young people in agriculture. âI’ll be happy to share the vegetables they grow with me,â he adds. Cultivating good health the agro-gym way is the new fitness mantra.