Sweat and style
AIWO, India's biggest and most luxurious health spa for men is open for business in Chennai. SUDHISH KAMATH checks it out
GENTLEMEN, HOW are you doing? Good? Well, it could always get better here in Chennai you know. There's this ...err for lack of a better word ... space in Chennai that has come up, which promises to take great care of you. Fifteen thousand square feet of feel-good luxury, fitness and high society.
Only that your wives might soon suspect that you are seeing someone. In fact, you will be. Your smart personal trainer at AIWO, one of the country's biggest health spa/state-of-the-art boutique at the basement of Kamaraj Memorial Hall. Who says vanity is only for ladies.
Floated by the Sterling business magnate C. Sivasankaran, AIWO, Chinese for `Love Yourself', is for those who really do.
Why else would you spend Rs. 50,000 a year for a hundred odd visits? Here's why: You get personalised attention, Jerry Maguire style. Your trainer maintains your file (there are 47 people employed just to take care of you and a select few). "We are not looking at having more than 10 people inside this space in an hour. We want to keep it exclusive," Mohan, marketing manager, says. There are smart cards containing all information about your every day work-outs and there are physiotherapists, masseurs, dieticians, doctors, beauticians, yoga guides and aerobics instructors around to make sure that you "breathe easy, think differently, work out and eat right". In the rare case that you do want to take your wife along (why would you? But anyway, just in case you know) you can, though otherwise, it's strictly only for men! Then, there's the range of services guaranteed to change your life.
At least it did that for Nalla Govindaswamy, retired Superintendent of Police, who, a couple of years ago realised that the left side of his body was difficult to move. "I joined AIWO four months ago. Now, I'm able to move to a certain extent," he says with child-like excitement, posing for the camera with a difficult `yoga asana' which he can now do 20 times. "In his case, it wasn't just fitness, it was cure," as a spa staff says.
A.Kalanidhi, former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University loves his showers at the spa. Who wouldn't want to get under a multi-nozzle Taron shower? "Water springs out from five different nozzles at pressures that you can choose from and hits different parts of your body, that the effect matches a massage," the marketing staff explains.
If you want a proper massage with water, then you could try the one-of-its-kind-in-India Hydrotherapy suite lie down comfortably and there are a hundred high pressure nozzles spurting out water at different speeds! Yes, there are the other massages as well the Kottakkal Ayurvedic oil massage, the Swedish aromatherapy cure, the Thai massage that you've seen in numerous Bond movies (only that here, there are no Bond babes, but just gentlemen standing on your back, massaging you with their legs) and the leg massage while you get your pedicure, manicure done at the relaxation lounge between sips of imported orange juice from the machines. "We import our oranges from Spain because these Zumex juicers do not accept anything else. It works only with well-rounded oranges." Hi-fi? Well, also wi-fi, they say.
"The spa is also wi-fi enabled. Businessmen can just switch on their laptops and log on to the internet. Wireless fidelity." Hmmm... and yes, there are the remote-controlled automatic closets from Toto (Psst: we are just talking about loos here!). "You just walk in, sit, do your job and get out. It does everything else. The only thing it does not do is talk to you." And the workouts? Nothing like you have ever experienced before. The spa boasts of the latest Pilates Allegro machines which can be used for over 200 exercises for the middle part of the body. There are the Deltoid Machines with internet protocol. "Your wife in America can monitor the progress in your workouts if you email her the data that the machine records," says Ravi Kumaran, chairman and fitness consultant of AIWO says. And, yes, there are the fancy hi-tech treadmills.
Kalanidhi lost 11 kilos in three months, sticking to his trainer. "My trainer is available six times a week. The day he's not here, I go to the other trainer at the Pilates machines and do the fine-tuning exercises ," he says, adding, "if you can afford it." It's not just body-building, it's nation-building, he explains. "How will you work with just mental power? You need body power as well. You need to be fit to give in your best. It's an investment. Your expenses towards the doctors will be less. I'm a cheerful man today, I don't feel sorry about the money spent," the academician who spends over an hour a day at the spa, adds.
"We make sure that we record, monitor and measure all data about our clients. We also have the MedX Core Fitness equipment for golfers and tennis players," Ravi Kumaran says explaining another one-of-its-kind feature of the health boutique.
"The Core fitness machines lock all other muscles of your body and ensure that specific parts get their exercise," he demonstrates putting this writer on one. "Tiger Woods uses these machines," he beams.
There are also exercises for businessmen who have very little time, thanks to the school of Egoescue. "The method of correction of posture and recuperation of injured muscle. There are over 400 exercises possible with these toys," he points out to a huge inflated ball and a few cushioned blocks.
Post session at the gym, you can go back to the luxury changing room and your locker and find out that your clothes have been pressed.
On February 18, AIWO also plans to organise a seminar on `Stress Relief and Healthy Living' at Kamaraj Arangam, exclusively for `busy bodies.' Tickets (Call Mohan at 56112210) are priced at Rs.1000.
If health is well ... wealth, then maybe it's a good investment, gentlemen! Fine print: The membership, however, does not include the services provided the massages, hydrotherapy, haircuts, steam baths, scrubbing at the ex-foliation chamber, etc.
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