Sham trainers and steroids imperil lives of gym goers in Islamabad and Rawalpindi

  • Many clients of upscale gyms blame trainers for the exercise-related injuries
  • Use of steroids caused deaths of five bodybuilders back in April, 2016 alone


Lives of thousands of gym goers in Islamabad and Rawalpindi are at the mercy of ham-handed use of prohibited and illegal steroids to increase capacity to work out longer, fake trainers who claim to hold certificates from Dubai and America at upscale fitness centres, and old, rusty equipment in gyms located in middle class localities of twin cities.

Upscale gyms and fitness centres in posh sectors of capital charge thousand of rupees under three different heads, namely membership or registration, per month dues, and additional charges for trainers.

Ali Salman, a businessmen had a severe knee injury earlier this year while working out under supervision of a trainer at Metafitnosis, a personalised fitness centre situated in F-6 that charges 34,800 per month including registration, trainer cost and diet plan, an appointment alone costs 2,000 rupees with the promise that amount will be adjusted if customer signs up for the programme.

‘The trainers over-exerted me during a session which resulted in a knee injury. I was left debilitated for many months. If they were properly trained they should have known how much to push an individual during exercise. It is squarely the responsibility of trainers who were either ill-trained or not trained at all,’ said Ali Salman.

According to information collected by Pakistan Today from various gyms and fitness centres located in posh sectors of Capital. In order to become member of Executive Club Gym situated in sector F-10 an individual has to pay 10,000 rupees initially, followed by 7,000 rupees per month. 1,000 rupees are charged by trainer for a single session of an hour.

Kinetix, a personal training studio in F-6 offers 30 min supervised sessions. They charge 35,000, 41,000 and 44,000 rupees for twelve, sixteen and twenty sessions respectively per month.

Dozens of gyms located in middle and lower middle class belt of G and I sectors charge anything from  1,000 to 4,000 rupees. Frequented mostly by college and university students, these gyms mostly charge for the equipment present while guidance and training comes from senior gym goers.

Although the menace of steroids hasn’t engulfed Islamabad like it has many cities of Punjab including Lahore, Sialkot and Gujranwala, where in the month of April alone 4 professional bodybuilders hailing from these cities lost their lives while preparing for a competition. Recently, in October, 26 years old son of a prominent PML-N leader, Sadiqul Farooq died due to alleged use of steroids.

Junaid, a pharmacist and regular gym goer while talking to Pakistan Today said that steroids are given to men of age 42 to 45 to enhance their athletic performance. ‘Body Builders use these steroids to gain short term advantages. They take them either in form of inject-able or tablets that are widely available. Many of them are either unaware or don’t care at all for lifelong maladies like impotence, hair loss, damage to vocal cords, acne, muscle tumours, high blood cholesterol levels, mood swings and prostate cancer. Furthermore, those who take steroids rarely admit doing it; it is kind of a secret between them and the world, ‘ he said.

Gyms and fitness centres largely remain an unregulated industry in Pakistan. With countless injuries and many body builders’ death there is dire need to not only regulate but put in place stringent checks and balances to avoid deaths and injuries caused by fake trainers and steroids.