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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - NEW DELHI: Dressed in a colorful saree, Roshini Devi Sangwan may appear to many as a typical Indian grandmother, but that impression is gone the moment she puts on a weight belt — and deadlifts 65 kg with ease.
A 68-year-old homemaker in Delhi, Sangwan was leading a regular life until it started to be slowed by arthritis and a fall, which last year left her with acute back pain.
Despite daily physiotherapy sessions, the pain and discomfort would not abate.
Things began to change only in June, when her son decided to step in and instead of driving his mom to the physiotherapist took her to the gym.
She was reluctant at first. Two times they reached the gym and she would not enter.
“I told him: ‘What would people say if an old lady goes to the gym at this age. It won’t look good.’ But he insisted,” Sangwan told Arab News.
“I like the gym now. I don’t want to leave anymore.”
The son, Ayaj Sangwan, a certified gym trainer, set up for his mother a routine in which she trains five times a week, doing plank exercises, working heavy battle ropes, and pulling deadlifts.
“Once I lifted 65 kg, otherwise I easily lift 50 to 60 kg — there is no problem,” she said. “I don’t have arthritis anymore.”
When she started training, her son did not know whether it would help, he just wanted to do something and had the gut feeling that exercise was what was needed to keep Sangwan’s health from deteriorating.
“When I took her to physiotherapy, the problem was not addressed, there was no permanent solution. I knew that she would keep getting weaker, so in desperation, I brought her to the gym,” he told Arab News.
“(Now) there is no problem in any joint. Her flexibility has increased, and her mobility has gone up. She is now more active.”
Now that the effects of training have been better than expected, the duo has an additional goal and eyes set on a new record in weightlifting for seniors.
Sangwan, who can currently deadlift her own bodyweight, is planning to nearly double the load.
“My mother lifts 65 kg, her body weight is also that much. She easily deadlifts 65 kg. By the end of this year, the target is 100 kg ... She wants to make some records in the field,” the son said.
The 100 kg target is the current Indian record held by a 63-year-old woman from Kerala.
Beating it would be a personal win and one she could also dedicate to her country.
“My aim is to make India proud. My son wants me to get a gold medal and I also want to go abroad and win it,” she said. “When India shines abroad it’s a great thing.”
Her preparations can be followed on Instagram and Sangwan’s son is also planning to launch a YouTube channel, where she could inspire others to be more active and healthier.
In 2017, a government-led study found that some 60 percent of Indian adults above the age of 45 do not engage in “any vigorous physical activities.”
Sangwan has some advice for them: “Go to the park for some exercise, if you cannot go there, do something at home,” she said.
“With advancing age, your bones will get weak, and parents should not depend on their kids. They should keep a watch on their health.”
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