The Keep-Fit 'Freaks'

Saturday Khorner with Khor Cheang Kee, TheStar November 12 1977

AEROBICS has come to Malaysia. And nowhere is it catching on as fast as in Penang. In case you haven't heard of it, this is a new way of -keeping your figure and your health – and fortifying your heart at the same time.

"It's a simple physical fitness programme for the whole family," says Anwar Fazal president of the domets Athletics Club which plans to launch aerobics in a, big way.
"We hope to rope in everybody, especially those who enjoy a run, a jog or even just a brisk walk."

To popularize aerobics, the Comets will hold a Sunday morning test run every month with certificates (for gold, silver and bronze) awarded to those who complete the distance at standard times. The first is scheduled for tomorrow.

'Open to everybody – men, women and children (above the age of 12) – the exercise will cover a 1.5 mile rote from the Penang Youth Park down Water fall Road, Western Road rive.

There will be a "fitness" classification for all participants with olds" awarded according to age groups to those, who complete the run within these time limits: EN: 8'h mins (for the under-20's); 9 mins (20-29 years); 9'fx mins ~ 30-39); 10 mins 40-49) and 10'h mins (50-plus). WOMEN: 9 mins (under 20); 9'fi mins ( 20-29 ); 101h mins (30-39); 11 mins (40-49) and 12 mins (50 plus).


Silver and bronze certificates will be awarded to those clocking slower times. The Comets held a trial run last month with 17 participants including SEAP Trainees who were in Penang at that time. Their enthusiasm was infectious. It has encouraged the organizers to expect a good turnout tomorrow.

Initially, they will be staging a test run every second Sunday of the month. Those wishing to take part are welcome at any time between 8 and l0am. If the response is good, the organizer plans to extend it from monthly to a weekly exercise. "We want everybody of any age or sex to come in," says the President of the Comets "We want to make it at all-family, all-community affair.

"It'll be fun," Anwar assures Khorner. "Why don't you join us one Sunday?" ME? I can't run, jog or even shuffle. You'll .have to work out a new classification for my kind of anticipation.


This is the first time, Anwar claims, that an aerobics fitness programme is being launched on a big scale in the country. In Butterworth, the RAAF has formed a small informal group of participants confined mainly to Australian airmen and their wives.

In Singapore, the Heart Association has adopted aerobics as part of its campaign to 'fortify the heart through physical fitness.' In America, the official fitness programme of the U.S. Air Force, I read, is based on aerobics with no less than 800,000 members of the Force joining in.

In little more than a year, this form of exercise has grown from near obscurity to worldwide scope. In a book on the impact of aerobics, the author an American research physician, says one of the most encouraging recent trends is the growing interest of
business and industry in the fitness of their employees.

"This make good sense from a management viewpoint," he writes. "For company sponsored fitness programmes tend to reduce absenteeism, accidents and sick pay. What is more, staffs in good physical condition are more alert and more productive. And their

"Such results strengthen the hope that increasing use of aerobics will become a major factor in building national fitness and health throughout the world.
"And all of this is just the beginning. The stage has been set for developing aerobics on an even broader scale.

"At the congress of International Military Sports held in France a few years ago, plans were laid for aerobics programmes for the armed forces of Sweden, Austria, Finland, Korea and Brazil.

"From the military of these countries, aerobics will surely spread to the civilian population" If it can eventually spread to Malaysia, the Penang Comets will have added another feather to their cap.

They have been in existence for only eight years – a comparatively young age for a sports club – but they have already made an impact on athletics in Penang. "We belive in catching them young" says Anwar – Faza1so we cater largely for schoolchildren and school leavers.

"We provide them as far as possible within our resources, with proper training and other facilities for healthy all-the-year-round activities.

"And what we are doing for our young athletes, we hope to do now for the general public. We hope to get them interested in aerobics."