Shapes for all sizes
By Zainab Khar
LAHORE: Swiping a card through the machine gives you access to the prestigious health studio—Shapes. It emerged on the map of Lahore in early ’95, opening its first branch in Gulberg, another in Defence and one on Model Town Link Road. Shapes then spread over to Karachi, and now one opens in Gujranwala within a month. Management at Shapes plan to open a branch in World Bank.
“Each of our operational branches is spread over 90,000 square feet, offering more than 10 different health and fitness activities, like covered swimming pools, gymnasia, squash-courts, aerobics etc, to suit individual preferences, all under one roof,” said Mr Nadeem Khawaja, Chief Executive Shapes. “We receive a daily influx of approximately 600 members, except on Sundays, when it’s open to executive members only,” he said talking to Daily Times in an exclusive interview. Our objective is to provide state of the art facilities and wellness equipment that make exercise fun, Mr Khawaja said.
Shapes was the brainchild of Nadeem Khawaja, who was a cricket player for Pakistan and England. As fitness was a priority, he became a regular visitor of indoor sports complexes and gyms in England. Being an innovative person, he grasped the idea, foreseeing the need for a health studio in his native country, Pakistan — a blessing for our ‘newly’ health conscious society.
The main guiding force behind this brick-walled studio consists of three men, namely Nadeem Khawaja (Chief Executive), Adnan Farooq (General Manager Operations), and Amir Rana (General Manager Finance), and over 400 other employees nationwide — who recently held their quarterly ‘Employment Achievement Award’ on January 18, 2004.
Their Executive Gym is a ‘regular haunt’ for actors like Shan and models like Aminah Haq. Socialite Yusuf Salahuddin, one of its oldest members, adamantly feels that “it’s a fantastic place with a clean healthy environment”. A lot of people feel it’s more of a ‘social hang-out’ than ‘an exercise studio’. Shapes caters to housewives who occupy it during the morning hours, and to teenagers during evenings and afternoons. The main attraction for teens happens to be the bowling alley.
The prices of different packages range from Rs 1,300 (normal gym) to 125,000 (Executive gym), catering to all classes. Shapes offers a wide range of activities, from gym to karate to squash and tennis – one has a lot to choose from, all depending on what ‘suits the pocket’.
“Our utmost priority is to propose a lifestyle that encourages fitness through the safest and latest means, that is, we use products like heart-rate monitors, calorie expenditure display units etc, to enhance client motivation,” said Mr Adnan Farooq, General Manager operations. We have a complete lifestyle evaluation, which includes blood pressure measurement, resting pulse rate measurement, and body and fat assessment before we recruit you into the programme, he further explained. “Our instructors are certified to give first aid and CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation), so safety is insured, always.”
“We are committed to the Pakistan Cricket Team as affiliates of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Lahore Squash Association,” said Mr Farooq. In addition, to being the first ever ISO-9001/2000 certified sports, health and fitness facility in the subcontinent with streamlined systems, management at Shapes are aiming for the ultimate ACSM health club certification (American College of Sports Medicine), whereby international health, racquets and sports club requirements are met to ensure complete safety and service, he added.
Mr Khawaja and Mr Farooq condemned the various ‘gym products’ freely available in the market, also highly advertised on television and radio. They said the herbal remedies and gym equipment encouraged laziness, and more often than not ended in nothing. They claimed that a workout at Shapes was a ‘side-effect- free’ exercise, with maximum results and no health risks.
They were optimistic about new gyms mushrooming all over the city, as they felt competition was healthy and helped progress. At the same time, Mr Khawaja said: “A lot of people are venturing into the trade and are exploring it as it is a flourishing business, but these gyms do not cater to health needs and can be a risk.”
“A lot of our members have come back to us after experimenting with other gyms, complaining of joint-problems and other health issues,” he added.