Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli looks on during the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on May 19, 2018. ----IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE----- / GETTYOUT / AFP / CHANDAN KHANNA / ----IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE----- / GETTYOUT Image Credit: AFP

The sports minister of India recently threw a fitness challenge to his compatriots, and sadly I found that I could barely do one push-up.

Minister R.S. Rathore, a former Olympian medallist, urged his fellow Indians to adopt a fitter lifestyle and set off the tone of the challenge by doing 10 push-ups, videotaping the workout and downloading it on social media. That seemed like a good idea since most Indians are unhealthy and suffer from diabetes, obesity and wonky hearts because of a bad lifestyle, eating fast food and being inactive the whole day.

I checked out a fitness website and it advised me not to be disheartened and that I could initially do the push-up on my knees. That seemed humiliating but I tried it by locking my ankles together and resting on my knees and found to my delight that I could do eight push-ups without going red in the face.

The sports minister then challenged Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and Bollywood’s hulk and handsome star Hrithik Roshan, under the hashtag, “MehFitThoIndiaFit (if I am Fit, India is Fit).

Kohli then passed on the baton to actor wife Anushka, who already is in great shape, and to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is a physical fitness freak himself, though he works an unhealthy 14 to 16 hours daily, is a fan of yoga.

Modi’s PR usually shows him running up the stairs to his plane whenever he jets off to meet international leaders, without huffing and puffing like many of us in his age group.

Actor Roshan, who has a great chiselled body, took to the roads on his cycle and posted the video for the fitness challenge campaign.

I threw the Fitness Challenge to my wife, who told me in no unequivocal terms not to waste her time. I am not taking a video of myself standing on one leg and posting it on Facebook, she said.

Daily walk

I then urged her to at least come for a walk with me every day. Researching how a daily walk can help one become fit, I found it was a very complicated exercise.

There were tons of books on Amazon on the subject and all the while I thought walking meant putting one step forward and following it up with the other foot. There was a book titled, Lost Art of Walking and even horror writer Stephen King got into the act with The Long Walk. Of course, if you read King’s book you might give up walking.

Anyway, my wife took up the challenge, but first we had to go to the nearest mall (an hour’s drive from where we live) to buy trainers that had to be bright pink, bright red or green. The shopping was so exhausting that we could only start walking a couple of days later.

Then we found packs of wild dogs roaming the roads and they get all excited when the Sun sets and start chasing people. One day we had to walk fast like Mr. Bean to get out of harm’s way. Then we found that someone starts burning garbage just when we take off every evening and the acrid smoke gave me serious allergies.

One of the unsocial aspects of social media is that there are trolls sniffing around on the Net and they immediately latch on to something they do not like.

The prime minister was ticked off by the trolls to do something meaningful for the country other than taking up fitness challenges, such as providing jobs and reducing the skyrocketing petrol and diesel prices.

Actor Roshan immediately got trolled for not wearing a helmet while cycling and people sent complaints to Mumbai Police.

We now no longer walk out in the open but pace back and forth safely in our flat.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi.