KUALA LUMPUR: “It's a bunch of overweight people. There is nothing sexy about it.”
That's what celebrity Harith Iskander's has to say about the exercise camp that was barred from using a school field in Bangsar for its evening sessions.
Malaysia's popular stand-up comedian has been attending the Daily Muscle Body Transformation Camp programme for four months, and had lost 10 to 12 kgs. The school had barred the camp because the sessions involved men and women exercising in the dark, which raised the concerns of 'unwanted incidents' taking place.
“We work in a group of eight to 20 people and there is nothing hidden about it. We're not doing it (exercising) behind closed doors,” he told Yahoo! Malaysia when asked about his feedback to the new instruction.
On Monday, Yahoo! Malaysia contacted a school official and confirmed the latest instruction.
The school staff member had also mentioned that female camp members were wearing figure hugging exercise pants that might be unsuitable for residents living nearby.
“I understand the school headmistress has the prerogative to make those decisions and I understand the social and religious significance of it. Maybe if it happened in Kelantan, I understand. But for it to happen in Bangsar, you'd think there would be liberal practices here,” he said, adding that while the camp participants have not been reprimanded, the decision appears to be based on one person's beliefs.
The actor and director added that this incident was not encouraging, and he was concerned with “what's happening” to Kuala Lumpur. Harith explained that among the exercises done in the programme were running, push-ups, jumping and sit-ups, adding that the field is located in an area where it is not too visible to be disturbing the residents.
Another camp member, Johan F. Khairuddin reacted to the news by telling Yahoo! Malaysia that there were no 'hot' looking girls and guys at the camp for it to warrant a risk of unwanted incidents occurring in the dark. The celebrity goes by Twitter handle @jfkjohan, and labels himself on his account as Malaysia's only Radio Deejay, Musician and Professional Airline Pilot, who needs to lose weight.
“If we interrupted people during prayer time, then we may be an inconvenience. But we do not play loud music and there is no one screaming during these workout sessions. No one has complained to us,” he said.
Johan explained that if there was not enough light during the exercise, the trainers would stop the workouts altogether. “We need light to see what the person is doing. The trainers need light to see the participants and make sure they are doing the right thing.” He said participants did warm-ups at about 630pm and then sometimes run around the field.
The intensity of the exercises depended on a participant's individual ability. “If there is a need to find partners for joint activities, girls would partner girls, boys partner boys and married couples go together. If someone decides to go solo, that's allowed too.”
He strongly recommends the programme, as it provides motivation for people to tackle health and weight problems. Johan himself started the workouts when he was 140kg and now weighs 110kg.
On Yahoo! Malaysia's Facebook page and the news website, users have posted a variety of comments. Fadlullah Abd Rahman, as a reaction to the story, posted, “Go somewhere else. That's not so hard.” Another online user called Jayendran says, “So I side with the school. A school is a place where good values are imparted and should stand for decency. This is not a "moral uplifting association" field. So those people affected should go and scout around for a new place. I gather too these are affluent folks who have little commuting constraints.
Leave the school to the students!” Online reader called Blade, said “The school has their own rightful reasons to be disinterested and stop renting to them. This camp is a business entity, trying to sound like a noble by providing RM350 a month to the school, while an average membership cost per month is around RM199 for their most popular package. SMK Bangsar were kind enough to provide the place in the first place for only RM350. Now when the deal go sour, see how this camp is responding to the media.”
Another reader by the name of Secret questioned, “Why can't they build a high fence so that residents will not get aroused by the mere presence of the opposite gender. Why must one side stop totally? Where is the equality?” One reader, only known as B, offered a compromise and posted, “Would it be easier if they change the time and ask the ladies to loosen up their clothes?”