Cheat meals, scaling Everest, and the importance of being earnest

The Launch of Sri Lanka’s First Fitness Week

With Colombo’s most stylish milling about under one roof, ODEL’s premier Fitness Week was launched at dusk on 23 August 2018.

With the agenda comprising a stimulating panel discussion and Q&A, the event dived into the various health and fitness trends in the country. Guests were welcomed into a room with soft lights, the centrepiece of which was a giant, domed birdcage. With limited seating arranged in neat rows, audience members eagerly took their places, waiting for the evening’s proceedings to begin.

With a warm welcome to the audience, moderator, Anusha David, the Chairman of Headlines PR, introduced each of the panellists in turn.

Starting with Desiree Karunaratne, Group Director of Marketing of Softlogic Holdings PLC, she rapidly presented the rest of her guests: Omalka Gunaratne, a promising national rugby player, Ronali Perera, the founder of RAW Organic Juices, Ramani Fernando from Ramani Salons, media personality Danu Innasithamby, Yohan Peiris, the second Sri Lankan to scale Everest, and Jackie Mae, former model and coach.

The panel discussion, which took the form of an extensive Q&A, touched on many subjects that were likely on the minds of everyone in attendance.

Turning first to Desiree, the question of what kind of role ODEL plays in increasing fitness was posed. In reply, she stated that ODEL has always wanted to host its own fitness week and take the lead in inculcating a healthy lifestyle in the country. A classic truism, she stated was that when people are fit, they feel good and have the ability to do so much more.

She also commented on the athleisure trend currently dominating the global fashion industry. With the new ODEL mall set to open its doors in 2020, the space will feature more athletic wear brands accessible to the everyday consumer.

When it came to talks of fitness, Yohan Peiris was the target of many questions pertaining to his epic trek of Everest. Speaking on the importance of tenacity in staying faithful to one’s fitness journey, he prioritised the twin needs of consistency and dedication in this process.

Concluding with an admonishment to those present to stop making excuses, he also highlighted the importance of sticking to a fitness routine that works for an individual’s specific needs and requirements.

Ramani Fernando too had her own (healthy) nuggets of wisdom to share.

When asked if going to the salon and looking good is more important than working out at the gym, she astutely observed that the latter holds greater long-term value. However, she also noted that investing in oneself and looking good is a very much part and parcel of feeling more confident.

Speaking on the benefits of exercise for better skin, the renowned beautician stated that with regular workouts, stress is lowered and blood circulation improves – two factors essential for an acne-free complexion.

With the spotlight on Omalka Gunaratne, who apart from playing rugby for both Sri Lanka and CR&FC is also the brand endorser for Canterbury, the question of what could be done to remain fit and healthy in later years was posed. Drawing from his extensive experience, Omalka replied that when it comes to health and fitness, balance is everything.

To the woe of audience members, he also stated that cutting down on all kinds of fast food and carbonated drinks is important, although, occasional indulgences must be part of the equation as well.

Ronali Perera, the name behind popular superfood business, RAW, was asked if the oft-heard phrase, “you are what you eat”, is really true. In replying that it most certainly is, she pointed out how one could stay fit and content by consuming the right kinds of food. Outlining her well-balanced meal plan for the day, Ronali also shared her wisdom on staying faithful to controlled meal plans.

When it came to his turn, ever the joker, Danu Innasithamby, entertained the audience with anecdotes of his own fitness journey. Speaking of his delight in finally being able to see his toes again, the media personality shared his experience of trying to stay fit while juggling a busy schedule. Impressively, he lost a whopping 8.5 kilos in a matter of five weeks through his new workout regimen!

With all eyes on Jackie Mae, a former model and now model coordinator and coach, she imparted the virtues of staying active and fit, especially in the modelling industry. She stated that models often had to perform a number of physical tasks including climbing trees and diving into pools (while looking fierce and fabulous, of course), all of which requires them to be in the best of shape.

When asked how important exercise is in terms of reducing stress, the former model answered that beyond just reducing stress, exercise also builds confidence, clears one’s head, and boosts an individual’s immune system.

Finally, turning to the audience for questions, the panellists were then bombarded with all kinds of queries relating to tips and tricks for healthier lifestyles.

Among these, the ability to balance one’s health and fitness with all of life’s other demands was a recurrent theme. In this regard, the panellists had plenty of advice to share. With the constant reminder that indulging in an occasional piece of chocolate or cake is okay, the importance of self-control and dedication were the main factors focused on.

Ronali and Jackie also pointed out that when it comes to cheat meals and indulgences, there are always healthy options that taste just as good as regular cheat meal fare.

Another equally pertinent question was that in an era where the fashion industry is moving towards body diversity, where must the line be drawn? At what point does body diversity become a protective veneer for unhealthy lifestyles?

To answer this, Danu, in his usual candour answered that the local scene has a long way to go before body diversity becomes an accepted concept. Other panellists stated that in this regard, feeling good and healthy was what really mattered.

On that positive note, the event then gave way to time for guests to mingle and swap fitness stories over healthy snacks, carefully curated by the organisers.


For more pics from the event, visit our facebook page


By Archana Heenpella
Pics by Indika Handuwala