Keeping fit

Friday, 19 November 2010 01:57 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Cheranka Mendis

Everybody wants to have that picture perfect body – flat abdomen, perfect abs, lean muscles the whole package. But with the hectic routine we call our day to day life; this dream of a perfect body might seem too far gone. Especially for those in the corporate sector who have hardly any free time — it is important to look good, feel good... this is a problem that seems to never go away.

Former weight lifter turned personal trainer Poorna Kahingala met up with Daily FT to tell our readership what went wrong and where.

Kahingala, who now works as a business development manager at Macbertan (Pvt) Ltd., started his weight lifting career in 1992 while he was in school. A five time national champion, Kahingala’s first tournament was the Junior Nationals followed closely by the Sri Lanka National Tournament. He then joined the Sri Lanka Airforce on a three year contract after which he was employed by his current work place.

His work as a personal trainer started in the period of 1993- 1997. “My first client was the now Managing Director of Vogue Jewellers Anura Hemachandra, who is still my client after all these years. After I started my carrier as a part time personal trainer most of the Managing Directors and other top corporate in the local corporate sector joined my work out and have ever since been with me,” Kahingala asserted. Naming a few of his clients he drops the names of Dr. Premil Senanayake, Dhammika Kalapuhe and Chairman of Tudawe Brothers.

“These days, top level businessmen and women have no time for personal training. For most, the problem is the time and place as they have to juggle this with their daily workload which isn’t that simple. Also the question of who the trainer is, is also a problem; because if not done correctly the training could bring about adverse effects to the body.”

Kahingala, who just completed nine years of service last month, says that keeping apart a person’s busy schedule, personal training is a must in a corporate’s life.

Comparing the change in a person’s lifestyle from when he started to now, he stated that the main transformation or change is the hectic life led by the majority. Most people have many problems both psychological and physical — from problems at work and home to illnesses such as heart problems, diabetics, etc.

“Fitness must be achieved in three levels — rest, training and food.” During the last 20-30 years Sri Lankans have changed their consumption pattern vastly, he said. “Thirty years ago people ate green grams, rice etc. for breakfast.  But today that has been traded for fad foods such as hot dogs and pastries. That is just one of the problems.” 

During the past 20-30 years the growing urban sector has changed causing a major spin on the usual life style of people.  Rest has been traded for work. Outdoor work such as paddy cultivation has been given up for comfortable office jobs.

But what people have not realised is that by giving up the work and lifestyle of our ancestors, we have become lazy comfort seekers he said. He asserted that doing work in the paddy field equals heavy weight training and cardio exercises in today’s training world. “What has happened is while the calorie intake remains unchanged, calorie off take is less. Today we are scared to eat because we know we have no ways of burning the calories we take. We have developed everything in today’s world; so why not develop our body as well?” he questions. He expresses that while a farmer burns approximately 1000 calories per hour, a corporate does not burn even 300 calories per hour.

However, the awareness of physical wellbeing is now receiving increasing popularity backed by the western attitude of the V shaped body and six packs for men.

People have now realised that if they do not posses good physic and health they cannot work more, the way they want to.

For corporate and business personnel it is important to look good, have a good personality and healthy breaking apart from the old view that a good businessmen should posses a big beer belly.

With Kahingala, those who are training or wish to train can schedule the time as he or she sees fit. While expressing that the age group that must focus on their personal wellbeing is those in the age range of 22-40 Kahingala stated that with him he would look at improving their body psychologically, physically and proportionally.

The best exercise to start with is speed walking, he says. “Do this for the first two to three weeks so that your body can get accustomed to this.”

A person must also get solid rest — a minimum of seven hours per day, and the best time to hit the snooze button is between 12 midnight to 2 a.m. and between 4 a.m to 9 a.m. These times are important as the body has been accustomed to sleep during this period from generations ago, he said. A balanced diet for personal wellbeing is exercising to burn calories, eating right, taking in the right amount of calories and resting seven hours a day.

Having three meals every day is also important as this is yet another custom the body has been accustomed to. But the food must be balanced — it must contain fruits, grains and vegetables.

Eating white rice, curry and kiri hodi is not necessarily a balanced diet, Kahingala said. He also urges people to consume three litres of  water every day in addition to a whole lot of fruit juices which would keep the body both healthy and full.

“Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean eating expensive food — food such as soya and green grams or leaves and vegetables is usually the cheapest in the market,” he said, adding that those were the first step towards building a healthy lifestyle and a good physic.

If you are interested in starting personal training with Kahingala, he can be reached on 0777-772854.

At present he undertakes training before 7:30 a.m. and after 6 p.m. at the Olympic Wellness House and Royal College Sports Complex.

The perfect meal

 If you want to stay fit and healthy, you’ve got to watch what you eat. Here’s Kahingala’s special menu for the health conscious:

7.30am (Breakfast)

Grains- as much as you can

Egg white and one slice of bread

10.30am (mid morning drink)

Fruit juice       

1.30pm (lunch)

Fruit juice (before eating)

Two yogurt cups of rice


4.30pm (mid day meal)

Fruits like apple, banana


9 pm (dinner)

*no big dinner, cut down on carbs for this meal

Boiled vegetables

Egg whites                    

Fruits such as avocado, wood apple and banana which helps the body recover from tiredness


Two slices of bread

100g boiled vegetables

Fruits as named above