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There’s a boost in the gym-going mentality

  • Strong.lk – the fitness movement inspiring everyone

The Team behind Strong.lk. From Left: Founding Partners Senushka Abeywickrema and Yasitha De Silva with Operations Manager S. Dushanthan

By Naveed Rozais

Fitness and wellbeing have become important considerations as of late and like many other things has become a heightened priority in light of the pandemic.

The lockdown meant that even for those looking to make a positive shift in their attitudes and behaviours towards fitness had to find solutions that didn’t involve enrolling at the closest gym. In this backdrop, Strong.lk was one such solution that helped many people get fit and stay fit.

Working tirelessly to keep its audience engaged, regardless of how interested in fitness they were, Strong.lk proved themselves to be one of those valuable resources offering support in a local context, going so far as to offer a free web-based workout plan with supporting content to give both aspiring and experienced fitness enthusiasts information on working out and nutrition to keep themselves going during the lockdown.

The Morning Brunch caught up with Strong.lk Operations Manager S. Dushanthan to learn more about the Strong.lk platform and its latest services in the new normal.

The Strong.lk story

Strong.lk is a resource platform that covers all things fitness. Founded a few years ago by enthusiasts Yasitha De Silva and Senushka Abeywickrema, the Strong.lk platform provides engaging and informative content on fitness, covering everything from general tips and techniques to locally contextualised fitness tips and practices.

The platform is a resource for all aspects of fitness, providing information on training (including workout plans) and information on nutrition, from meal plans to supplements, to videos on fitness and workouts, including videos with prominent local celebrities on how they approach fitness. Strong.lk provides fitness-related content for all levels of fitness enthusiasts, whether you’re a beginner or a professional bodybuilder.

In addition to its online platform, Strong.lk has its own brick-and-mortar store selling nutritional supplements for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts as well as gym accessories like weighted belts, resistance bands, and similar. Strong.lk imports their accessories directly from Germany to ensure quality and places a great deal of care in the sourcing their supplements. They are also able to verify the lot number of the supplements they purchase with manufacturers and providers to be sure of the quality and authenticity of the supplements they’re using.

The Strong.lk store also offers a unique feature with its “Stronger Shakes” protein shake bar which was introduced two years ago, where customers can get ready-made shakes customised to their specific needs, utilising different protein shakes, offering healthy shakes designed to help fitness fanatics build muscle or recover from workouts, as well as offering non-fitness-friendly “cheat shakes” for those days when indulgence takes priority.

Dushanthan explained that Strong.lk strives to give its customers a unique, interactive experience. “We also have fun recreational activities for our customers called ‘Strong Wars’ which involves a push-up challenge and plank challenge; customers can give it a go once they are at the store and the winner gets a free protein shake from our shake bar.

“The store also pays special attention to sustainability. We carry a sustainable programme where we recycle plastic; since most of the supplements are made out of plastic, we implemented a sustainable method of recycling the plastic by donating to a respective company and making use of them, and also by making innovative things out of them, like plastic dumbells and similar. Our customers can always hand over their empty tubs and we follow the procedure of sustainably disposing of them.”

The Strong.lk platform, mainly online, is spread across their official website www.strong.lk; their Instagram handles @strong.lk, @strong.lk_store, and @sl_fit_squad; and their Facebook pages STRONG.LK and Strong.lk store. The Strong.lk platform has a combined audience of over 80,000 followers, making it the biggest fitness platform in Sri Lanka.

Strong.lk’s newest services

The newly launched team of Strong.lk Brand Ambassadors. From Left: Wilhelm Yohan Randy, Kathie Pearls, Thilina Nirosha, and Saasha Karunarathne

“Our new, recently launched team includes fitness personalities Saasha Karunarathne, Thilina Nirosha, Wilhelm Yohan Randy, and Kathie Pearls, and with this exciting team becoming the new face of Strong.lk, we hope to start driving more effective and instructive content on our online and YouTube platforms,” Dushanthan shared.

“Strong.lk as a whole doesn’t focus only on selling supplements; we drive our team to create fitness and nutritional content that adds value to our audience,” he added.

An example of the useful content the team provides is tutorials on how to make protein shakes at home with natural ingredients and protein sources, something that would have been very useful during the lockdown period. 

Strong.lk also provides online coaching and mentoring, with the team working with clients to create customised diet and workout plans based on clients’ individual body compositions – plans that are designed to help them effectively meet their fitness goals.

“Our premium online coaching package is priced at Rs. 10,000, and this package means that the Strong.lk team will work you until you achieve your goal weight,” Dushanthan explained. “What sets us apart from other trainers and mentors is that our service is not a monthly service – it’s a one-time payment to engage our services – and we make a commitment to our clients when they come on board, which is to help them along their fitness journey and get them to their goal weight at no added cost, regardless of if the process takes a few weeks or a few months.”

In addition to working with clients at an individual level, Strong.lk also helps corporate clients assure the health and fitness of their employees conducting corporate fitness training, where Strong.lk visits companies once a week or more, based on request, to conduct cardio-based fitness training programmes designed to improve physical and mental health. Strong.lk corporate fitness training has been met with great success with notable clients, including one of Sri Lanka’s biggest banking institutes, committing to making their employees happier, healthier, and fitter.

Driving fitness in the new normal

“People were actually desperate to get to the gym in lockdown, regardless of if they were frequent gym-goers before. So there’s been a boost in the gym-going mentality and a rise in gym memberships.”

To keep audiences engaged during the lockdown, the Strong.lk team focused on putting out informational content like quizzes and engaging informational posts. “We put in a free web plan that thoroughly engaged customers, providing information on exercise and keeping healthy, and (talking about) interesting topics like how to find and make high-protein, low-fat food in Sri Lanka with easily available ingredients,” Dushanthan added.

“We also focused on engaging our audience through fitness challenges. We’ve conducted events before like the ‘All-you-can-drink Protein Shake’ event we did in 2017 and the push-up battle we did last year. Winners of these events received products and services from Strong.lk.

“During the lockdown, we decided to introduce challenges and competitions like our live burpee challenge where people taking part in the challenge had to send in an Instagram story of them doing the burpee challenge. We held the challenge in collaboration with Kind Hearted Lankans, with Strong.lk donating Rs. 100 to Kind Hearted Lankans for every story sent in, raising a total donation exceeding Rs. 10,000.”

Speaking on how fitness trends have been influenced by the pandemic, Dushanthan explained that it has not only been more about new trends taking shape, but also a new mentality taking shape. “Some people have lost weight during quarantine and in general have become more aware of the need to stay fit and healthy. This shift in mentality means there is a lot more dedication to training and fitness now.”