BENGALURU: Our first step when it comes to losing weight and staying fit is usually exercising and avoiding unhealthy food. However, for this set of Bengalureans, joining a WhatsApp group is all it takes to be in shape.
The WhatsApp group called the Runaddicts completed a year last April. The group started with Mohan Devegowda, a real-estate manager, and his wife, as a platform to motivate each other in running.
Mohan was an aerobics enthusiast and was not fond of running. Completing a 10 k marathon inspired him to explore more of running and cycling.
Mohan took the group forward by approaching random morning walk joggers asking them if they would be interested to join. As the name of the group suggests, it is for people who love running or want to start running. Majority gave a heads up and, one year down, the group boasts over 300 members in two different set of Runaddicts groups and all from various walks of life.
Eighty per cent of its members are from Rajarajeshwari Nagar, since that is where Mohan resides.
One of the first people Mohan approached was Madhusudan G, a senior consultant of cosmetic surgery at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital in Rajarajeshwari Nagar. Dr. Madhusudan was no pro during that time and used to complete the 5 km run with great difficulty in the late morning.
“I got tired of just walking in the layout, so I started running at around 6.30 am. I never understood why people woke up at 3.30 am to run,” says Madhusudan. “After joining the group, I saw few people saying they completed 10 k run or 20 k run and that kept pushing me to run more each day. I can easily run 25 km today and recently completed 50 km in a day, all because of the group,” adds Madhusudan.
Breathing Easier and Turning an Ironman
Archana R, a HR has been suffering from health issues such as bronchial asthma, spondylitis and slip disc from 2013. She had to take a break from work and be extra cautious especially in the month of December and January. Last winter and ever since she joined the group and started running, she saw tremendous improvement. “As I tuned breathing while running and gradually covered a kilometre more every time, I saw that the problem of asthma was dissipating,” she shares. Though the problem of spondylitis still insists, medication has reduced. “My confidence is back and I run about 12 km,” she adds.
26-year-old Bharath Chandrashekar, had always wanted to run from Bengaluru to Mysore. He was not able to do it because of the lack of required support to complete the distance. He found that in the group when he successfully completed a distance of 155 km in July 2016 with the help from the members. Running from Vidhana Soudha to Mysuru Palace, he completed his Ironman run that requires 3.8 km of swimming, 180 km of cycling and 42 kilometers of running. Bharath is now aiming for ultra marathon and is assured to get the support from the members of the Runaddicts.
“You not only get motivation from the group but you also develop great bonds and friendship. After covering a certain kilometer you start talking and interacting and getting to know each other,” says Mohan, who was an introvert before but now he has more friends made in a year than his entire lifetime.
When it comes to weight loss stories, we have Prathap Kumar, an interface architect, who from weighing 83kg in May 2016 has come down to 62 kg as of now.
He says cycling all by himself did not help but after joining the group in October, he was motivated enough. “When I first started running, I would be breathless after a 700mtr run. Now, I run 30 km a day and have registered for a 42km marathon,” he adds.
“It is tiresome to complete 5 km when running by yourself. But when in group and that too with people who motivate you, the distance seems like a piece of cake,” says the founder, Mohan.
Running also has emotional benefits, says Mohan. Guru Prasad, one of the first few members, say that running has helped him take more challenges and successfully accomplish it.
Not all the members are from Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Dr. Sai Prasad, a pediatric surgeon, resides in Malleswaram. “I have to travel a distance of about 14km to take part in these regular meet ups. For this I have to wake up at 4 am so that I get traffic-free roads. But I don’t mind waking up early because I have become addicted to running,” he says.
The group is planning on a charity run on June 4 for their anniversary celebration.
Madhusudan, as a doctor, recommends running to all his patients who come to see him especially for liposuction. He gives his own example since he lost about 10 kgs after running.
Inspired by the Runaddicts group, Madhusudan opened a running group for doctors and staff of BGS hospital called the Cheetah Runners. Though the group is not as active as the Runaddicts, many medical professionals joined Runaadicts because of it.
Dr T V Seshagiri, a consultant urologist of the same hospital has cycled from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in 2011 to spread awareness on chronic ailments. Even today, he ensures cycling to nearby places, especially rural areas, to spread health awareness. He commends the initiative taken by Mohan and says that one of the best things that happened after joining the Runaddicts is to see his two children, aged 17 and 11, have started to run and actively participate in outdoor activities like never before.
How does it work
All you have to do is get added to the group. The group is monitored well enough that no spam or forward texts reach you. “It’s a selfless group of people motivating each other through their running accomplishment,” is how Madhusudan puts it. “
From doctors, techies and photographers to homemakers and estate managers, we have people from diverse backgrounds. No one promotes their professional agenda because we have strict guidelines for that. People are only allowed to post relevant updates on their physical activities,” says Mohan.
The group meets every morning at around 5 at BDA Complex Rajarajeshwari Nagar and run together. A monthly run is organized once where huge gathering is mostly seen.