For a long time, the word “fitness” only meant long walks and some stretching for me. But then came along Padmanabhan aka Paddu, a fitness trainer and coach who completely changed my meaning of fitness.
Thrice a week, Paddu in his inimitable style pushed me to exercise on our motta maadi, and slowly made it an integral part of my lifestyle. I felt more energetic, more relaxed; mind too seemed more fit! I actually started looking forward to the workouts and also his constant chatter about this and that! He was always updated about what was happening in the city, had a new trivia for the day, and there was nothing and no one he didn’t know.
I was curious to know how he entered this profession and asked him one morning.
I was surprised to hear that his family had no connection with sports whatsoever! As a young child, he excelled in athletics and won prizes during sports days. And as he grew up this became his only passion.
Prodded by friends, he started training and was soon winning medals at the district and state levels. And once he bagged the All India 2nd place, there was no looking back. Constantly updating his skills, he gradually turned to teaching fitness mantras to sportsmen, sports teams, musicians, doctors, politicians, actors and corporates! Today he is extremely popular and sought after.
Now,20 years later, he fondly remembers all his friends and the corporates who have supported him. He has a special word for his friend Saravanan and the Australian coach Errold D Hart. “It was Errold who sent me $15 every month for my food supplements…quite a lot those days”, he emotionally recollects.
With a big smile, he recollects snippets of his interactions with Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Salman Khan, Mahesh Babu, Vijay Sethupathy… the list is endless! He also adds that his doting wife and daughter love the special moments when they get to meet some of these special people.
Proudly sharing that he is the only Fitness trainer to bag the sponsorship contract from Adidas, he shows me some of his prized photographs with leading sport icons. The most recent one being with the Chennai Spartans who had just won the Pro Volleyball League.
And that’s when I noticed that Paddu, the man with the infectious smile was getting ready to travel the world with yet another team.