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Post-pandemic: Changing the way we view fitness in Sri Lanka

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by Talavou Alalima

When the first Covid-19 wave hit Sri Lanka in March this year, people physically active realized how important exercises were for their health and well-being. The second corona surge, now sweeping across the country, has ensued a sharp decline in physical fitness with many people gaining weight and diets in disarray.

This has driven home the fundamental point that we need to organize, prepare and participate in various outdoor activities in uncrowded places. We need go out and be active to boost our immunity. Research shows that activities within open spaces pose a lower risk of the spread of the contagion.

One of the commendable factors is building walking tracks. This has motivated people to walk, jog or cycle. We need to change the mentality and get more and more people into fitness encompassing both nutritional and exercise aspects. This is where organized activity comes into play. One should discover a total physical transformation, and for this to happen, certain equipment with adequate facilities, coupled with guidance from those who understand the science, are imperative. That’s where gyms play a key role. I believe the state sector should invest substantially on such infrastructure and create more awareness by introducing programs at ground-level.

Today, many degenerative and non-communicable diseases are destroying lives primarily due to lack of knowledge and access to organized fundamental physical activity structures without paying a steep price. The conventional annual memberships are outdated and archaic. In this day and age, people look for access to any physical activity facility or service at their convenience to suit their budget and location.

We see many people talking about various topics related to fitness. Despite the many technological advances and awareness, there are no sufficient innovative solutions that have an absolute impact on an individual’s health and wellness.

We need to build a healthy Sri Lanka – a future generation which values healthy lifestyles, with parents still around to see their children grow up and produce grandchildren. If we don’t make this change today, we’ll continue to see a decline in the nation’s health and wellness standards. We have to strengthen our immunity to our best, beginning with changing the way we view exercise, fitness and activity.

I’ve seen a significant number of people coming into the gym for the first time. In this backdrop, those who have been into physical training from their young adult life have a higher level of appreciation for activities and trends that have evolved throughout. However, for the majority of the population there’s a long way to go as only less than a mere one percent is into active fitness and exercises.

My philosophy in life is about serving, uplifting and strengthening others, especially those who are disadvantaged, ignored, forgotten, helpless and are underprivileged. I recall never asking from my single parent mother for anything. I love to see the impact and contribution I make. So, I chose to build gyms to give access to quality facilities to those who cannot financially afford it.

The 1996 Cricket World Cup winning team benefited from working out at my gym, with Sanath Jayasuriya discovering his true gift here. From thereon, almost every Sri Lankan national team and clubs, including at school-level, have trained in my gyms free of charge.

In 2000, I pioneered the sports nutrition manufacturing industry. Later in 2007, I hosted the Edge Grand Prix, a series of Track and Field championships. I also launched, funded and backed the ‘Loin Warrior Sports High Performance Program’ for five years, training and sponsoring nutrition needs of over 40 Sri Lankan champion sportsmen. Today, we see the wisdom of performance, nutrition and training that must go hand-in-hand embedded in the fabric of all sports.

I donated fully-equipped gyms to the Welisara, Mahara and Bogambara prisons. I noticed that 80% of prisoners seemed to have begun their life of crime after they first stole food to feed their children. No child must be denied food to such an extent that a father must steal to feed them.

Seeing the devastating impact of the dengue epidemic on families during its peak, I took on the leadership to fight the viral disease by launching the ‘Death to Dengue’ campaign in association with the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). The battle towards this end still continues.

I also hypothesized that, if the sporting talent of children could be predicted early enough with a high level of accuracy, the chances of them competing to become world champions across all sports when they reached their physically maturity are realistic. This gave birth to a first of its kind predictive algorithm-based system. Today, seven years later, testimonies of children confirmed the prediction was accurate.

Though technology has brought about convenience, one cannot take away the human touch. In my experience, I have seen that people are able to achieve higher levels of fitness because of another human being. The connection between two people encourages and motivates the way no technology could. For example, we have many fancy tracking devices, but this is only feedback.

What’s critical is what we should do with all that data and how to use it for yourself to achieve the desired outcome. Exercising is a discipline that is embedded into one’s lifestyle over time; it takes a lot of hard work and commitment.

I’ve seen many gym members joining with tremendous excitement but due to their demanding lifestyles, they are unable to sustain a continuous training regime to achieve their desired fitness goals. Times have changed and people look forward to experience and enjoy a full cross section of various exercises, recreations, adventure, sports, coaching among others.



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Cabraal: Prez appoints members to Port City Economic Commission

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By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatta

The President of the country would always appoint members to the Colombo Port City Economic Commission, entrusted with running of that city under the proposed CPCEC Bill, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, yesterday, told the media, in Colombo.

State Minister Cabraal said that most critics of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill had not even read it.

“Sri Lankans don’t need to obtain a visa to enter the Port City as some claim. The Port City will be administered by the Colombo Port City Economic Commission and the Bill we have presented details how the area will be governed,” Cabraal said responding to a question posed by a journalist.

The State Minister said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had asked him to counter the misinformation and fake news that was being spread about the Bill. Once people have read and understood the Bill, most who criticise it would have to change their tune, the Minister said.

 

Journalists also questioned the State Minister on the allegations levelled by MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakse. The State Minister said that Rajapakse had not even asked a question about the Bill during the Parliamentary Group meetings.

“As I said earlier, the Port City will be administered by Colombo Port City Economic Commission. All members are appointed by the President. The Chairman of the Commission too is appointed by the President. The President can get rid of them anytime he wants,” Cabraal said.

The State Minister added that no one would be allowed to withdraw money or assets from Sri Lanka and invest in the Port City. “This is a special economic zone. We need to attract foreign direct investments. We need to have ease of doing business in this zone and we have to make it an important financial hub in the region.”

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Two hotels to be built obstructing elephant corridor in Sinharaja – MONLAR

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Forest land being cleared for the construction of a hotel

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Bowitiyatenna elephant corridor, used by elephants in Sinharaja to travel to Dellawa – Walankanda forest had been obstructed by two businessmen by clearing a section of the forest to build hotels, Sajeeewa Chamikara of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) said.

“One hotel is being constructed in the Dolekanda Grama Niladari area after clearing seven acres of forest land. The Kalawana Divisional Secretariat has approved the construction of the hotel ignoring environmental regulations. Right now, forests are being cleared, land is being prepared and buildings are being constructed using heavy equipment.”

Another hotel was being built at the Bowitiyatenna Elephant Corridor, situated in Godakawela Divisional Secretariat area by a businessman from Godakawela. He has cleared around eight acres of forest land, the environmentalist said.

The two hotels were obstructing the elephant corridors used by the remaining two elephants in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Now, the the people of Rambuka, Thanawela, Ellagama, Handiyekade, Kajugaswatte, Pothupitiya, Kopikella and Cypresswatte would have the elephans marauding their villages, the environmentalist said, adding that the residents of those villages would lose property and lives due to the hotels being constructed by obstructing the elephant corridors.

“Most of the forest areas surrounding the Sinharaja are to be annexed to the Forest Reserve because they are an important part of the forest network. These unscrupulous businessmen and politicians supporting them are attempting to carve out as much land as possible before these areas receive protected status. They are also doing their best to delay the declaration of these lands as protected areas.”

Chamikara said that the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) had the power to take action against those who carried out such illegal activities.

According to Section 23 (a.) (a.) of the National Environmental Act, when a project is carried out without environmental clearance, the CEA can produce such people before a magistrate’s court. If found guilty, a person can be fined up to Rs. 15,000 or imprisoned up to two years or subjected to both.

Chamikara said: “According to Article 27(14) of Chapter VI of the Sri Lankan constitution the state shall protect, preserve and improve the environment for the benefit of the community.” However, the CEA seems to have no interest in taking action against those who are building these hotels illegally. This is CEA’s attitude to almost all major environmental destruction that seems to be taking place these days.

“The government is silent when the Sinharaja forest is degraded and elephant corridors are closed by businessmen. The right to land seems to be a right reserved only for businessmen. We have the right to oppose these under article 28. (f) of the Constitution which states that we have a fundamental duty ‘to protect nature and conserve its riches.’ Article 28. (e) states that we also have a fundamental duty ‘to respect the rights and freedoms of others.’ Thus, we, the citizens have the right to oppose the illegal use of natural resources by powerful businessmen. If we do not oppose these moves as citizens, powerful businessmen will take over all our natural assets like they are doing at Sinharaja.”

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RDHS predicts Coronavirus spike in Jaffna over the weekend

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

There might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna this weekend, A.

Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday. Dr. Kethiswaran made the prediction after 26 new cases were detected in Jaffna.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported from Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be locked down, he said.

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