Too Young to Retire

62-yr-old national athlete Swarnavalli has no plans to hang her boots

Meet this ASAP Kerala student and sporting sensation who defies social norms to pursue her passion, while also training the next generation because she believes fitness is the new currency

Swarnavalli, a 62-year-old national athletics title-holder, debunks social norms to do the role of a fitness trainer after retiring from government service and completing the Fitness Trainer course offered by the Additional Skill Acquisition Programme (ASAP) Kerala.

Hailing from Vaithiri in Wayanad, Swarnavalli has represented India in steeplechase at the World Meet held in France in 2015. She has won many national and international awards, including bronze in the 4 x 100m relay at the Asian Meet hosted by China.

A state government employee, who is now settled in Ariyalur in Malappuram district, Swarnavalli had humble beginnings and had to wade her way through and through as she ventured into a “male-dominated arena”. After service, she decided to obtain certification as a fitness trainer and become a personal trainer. Subsequently, she enrolled in the Fitness Trainer course offered by ASAP Kerala. The theoretical sessions were held at Kattappana Government College, and practical training and internship were provided at gymnasiums. Upon the completion of the programme, an internship was held at a gymnasium in Kadungallur, Ernakulam.

Swarnavalli, who retired from government service in 2016, is a jack of several trades. After service, she tried her hand at multiple passions and pursued several courses, including computers, fashion designing, driving, etc. through polytechnic education. “Being an athlete, it was necessary to take care of fitness and maintain form, so I used to train daily. The desire to become a fitness trainer was driven by the passion to know what was done for fitness and its causes. The course curriculum and training focussed on the fundamentals of performing daily training with precision. Those with an interest and aptitude for sports can be better trained and encouraged more clearly,” she said.

Swarnavalli wishes for the next generation to incorporate exercise into their daily lives. “To create a better and healthier society, proper exercise should be provided. It takes commitment for physical fitness. The goal is to provide children training in the field of sports. This is a course that can be pursued by anyone, regardless of age. One just needs to be organised,” she adds. Swarnavalli is currently a technical official in athletics, and trains children in swimming at schools, apart from working as a gym instructor at Fitness Gym, Vallikunnu in Malappuram. She also wishes to work overseas as a certified fitness instructor.

The Fitness Trainer course offered by ASAP Kerala equips learners to obtain certification to assist trainees of all ages and metabolism to get healthier and achieve desired fitness levels through focussed exercises and activities. Swarnavalli lauded ASAP Kerala’s interventions in providing additional skilling to the students and general community. “ASAP Kerala’s aim is to bridge the technology and talent pool, while broadening the competencies of the youth of Kerala, and curating a ready-to-deploy workforce,” she added.