ASTANA – With many Western fitness programmes and fancy private fitness franchises in major cities of the country, the once much in vogue practice of shaping gymnastics has stiff competition these days. However, the state-owned shaping federation offers cost and training efficiency, Secretary-General of Kazakhstan’s Shaping Federation in the capital Marina Gudina assures.
“Shaping is quite popular these days. [It] has been around since the end of the 1980s, and therefore proved itself in the market. However, these days are a little challenging for it due to many competitors, too many venues and large fitness clubs set up in Astana and nationwide. They offer a variety of programmes and have swimming pools, saunas and more,” Gudina said in a recent interview with The Astana Times.
Shaping means configuring and perfecting one’s body shape. It first came to Kazakhstan at the end of the 1990s. Shaping was then completely new to the country, arriving in the midst of a host of new products and ideas. At the time, coaching staff used to buy VHS cassettes to conduct lessons – that was the extent of their training. Today, of course, there are proper training courses and shaping nowadays requires coaches to have either medical or sport qualifications.
The Shaping Federation of Kazakhstan is a public association in Astana that has been operating for over 15 years. Created with the goal of improving the nation’s health, the federation offers low prices and a flexible discount system. Morning trainings twice a week start at 8,000 tenge (about US$23).
The capital’s shaping venue offers 13 different courses that take into account a person’s age, physical capabilities and health. They offer a flexible training schedule, nutrition consultations and individual training programmes.
Gudina believes that shaping has no equal in terms of workout efficiency, because its individual training programme depends on the needs of each person. According to her, in a group where 30 people train with one coach, one person might end up working too hard while another isn’t challenged enough. The level of effort in shaping is selected strictly for an individual person.
“A diet, in shaping, is by no means restrictive,” the secretary-general stressed. “A person should eat a lot, providing an intake of all nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and at the same time efficiently solve workout tasks. Shaping has its special features. Our body burns fat tissue effectively if after a day of training we follow certain nutrition principles.”
Shaping focuses on a different physical outcome from other fitness programmes, Gudina explained. A female fitness model is usually quite muscular, while in shaping all programmes start with visually seeing a girl as a gazelle – thin, long, stretched forms without muscles and a flat belly with a thin layer of fat.
According to her, shaping is similar to bodybuilding, because building a body and working separately with each muscle and area of the body in a certain mode and level of effort is the main goal of bodybuilding.
“Shaping has the same goals. We work like sculptors, which is actually impossible in fitness. The body works in two modes: either disintegrating or building up; if we are speaking about fitness programmes, this refers to a muscle. It is impossible to pump up the buttocks and slim the waist area simultaneously, as these are two different modes. As of today, many of our clients who transferred to other fitness clubs come back to us because after two or three months they do not see certain results; or not where they want them to be,” Gudina says.
The shaping federation has lot of different tests for beginners to undergo their first month. Anthropometry, the measurement of the individual, is the most important of them, which according to Gudina no other fitness venue has. With a special instrument, more than 40 indexes in the body are measured top to toe, including height, weight, girth, skin and fat folds.
“The entire system is computerised. A big file is created for each person, where results are constantly tracked and corrected. Anthropometry indices are recorded on a computer that makes a 3D model of a woman’s body shape to compare with her personal shaping model and ideal,” she added.
Via anthropometry results, shaping participants can learn how much fat and muscle mass they are carrying and where it is. The results are used to inform their individual nutrition programmes, Gudina said.
Losing or gaining two to four kilogrammes over a month is normal for men and women, Gudina noted. Greater gains or losses are considered unstable and hard on the body because the entire hormone system has to adapt to weight changes.