From multiple sclerosis to autism, Devimeena Sundaram’s mind-boosting exercises promise to tackle it all
Exercise is quite mindless—innumerable repetitions that burn calories and tone muscles. But what if we told you that a certain brand of exercise can boost your IQ, make you fit and alert and even help those with special needs like Alzheimer’s, autism, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis? Devimeena Sundaram is a fitness specialist who recently turned master trainer (the first in India) for an innovative new programme called Super Body Super Brain. “This is a form of physical training that combines balance and coordination in the same movement, thus maximising brain activity and giving you a challenging workout,” says Sundaram, who is currently working with the Chennai chapter of Multiple Sclerosis Society of India.
The idea behind the workout is to charge the brain and make its left and right sides work together, thereby helping neurogenesis (the process of creating neurons) and improving neuroplasticity (creating new neural connections). “We get people to do a series of exercises, like bicep curls while simultaneously lifting their heels or doing exercises with their eyes closed, which will force the brain to think, create new memories and connections. Even a 10-minute workout can give you great results,” says the instructor who is also a certified sports trainer and conditioner, with expertise in Zumba, Bokwa (a cardio dance exercise workout) and working with the elderly.
Super Body Super Brain was created by Michael Gonzalez-Wallace, a popular fitness trainer in the US, in conjunction with top neuroscientists, neurologists and psychiatrists. According to Wallace, when the programme started showing results in regular people, many medical centres approached him. “I began working with kids with developmental disabilities including ADD, ADHD and Asperger’s. Parents told me their children became more grounded, more focussed, and more in control of their bodies after doing this,” says Wallace. Sundaram also talks about great results achieved. “I am working with an MS patient who had 11 lesions in her brain. After doing this programme for the last four to five months, seven of those lesions have healed,” she says.
Except for the MS Society, Sundaram doesn’t want to be involved in too many one-on-one classes for now. “I feel it is important to spread awareness,” says the trainer who plans to start a teacher training course in July. She also wants to initiate talks with neurologists at Apollo, MIOT and Global Hospital to explore how she can bring the programme to them. “We don’t prescribe any diets, but we do advise a low carb diet with plenty of essential fatty acids,” says Sundaram, who started her career as a computer engineer with an MBA in e-commerce, but changed track over five years ago to follow her passion for medicine and physical fitness.
-Surya Praphulla Kumar