Ramji Srinivasan is one of India’s most renowned high-performance coaches who holds many accolades in the history of Indian sports physical fitness coaching and also the founder of Sports Dynamix(High-performance centre). The former Strength & Conditioning coach of the Indian Cricket team has come a long way in his career starting in the early 90s. Abhinav Mishra Bizbehindsports had a great opportunity to interview the strength and conditioning coach turned entrepreneur.
How did you get into Strength & Conditioning and why did you choose this profession?
This question I have answered a zillion times by now (smiles). I came into this profession by sheer accident; I didn’t plan anything since I wanted to be an IPS officer. I had an athletic background, won several awards at the junior & state level in long jump during my school days. After that I had a severe hamstring injury in 1984 and that halted my athletic career. i was in kerala working in a rubber estate ,i had to come back to chennai after that due to my parent’s illness here a close friend of mine suggested taking up this field since i had a background in sports already. this was in 1992-93. slowly in 93’ i got slowly into fitness and opend a small fitness centre called primefit because not much was available in india at that time regarding fitness and not much money i had. that’s how it turned out. maybe i made the right call at the right moment. then from 96’ i properly got into it with ramesh krishnan tennis academy and the mrf pace foundation. mrf used to send me to australia every year and learned a lot from dennis lillee. he played a major role in my start and journey.it was an eye opener for me about sports science and allied fields.
How has your journey been from 90s to 2020?
journey has been good. i have learned a lot and met loads of good and bad people. overall it has been fantastic; i cannot complaint about anything and have enjoyed every moment being in this field. never felt insecure or uncomfortable. i joined the tamil nadu team in 97’ and then took on various challenges from there on. met a lot of professionals like dhoni, sachin, ,rahul dravid,vvs laxman,zaheer khan,bhajji,raman,balaji,irfan,munaf,sree,viru,gauti ,yuvi,virat,raina, and many more narain karthikeyen,,karun chandok, sharad kamal,sathiyan and many more. i can name a lot of people and learned from each and every one of them. also i am very lucky to have a good team with me. i’ve got a fantastic group of people at sports dynamix who have been working tirelessly for the past 5 years. they’re highly qualified and very good in what they do; absolutely professional. each one of them specializes in a couple of sports as well.
What are the kinds of struggles you faced throughout the journey and how did you overcome those?
yes there were a lot of people who used to speak behind my back, that i am not good and just being there because of pr skills and micky mouse exercise protocols. etc .and its there in every profession this where people talk behind your back. but i love that actually. because that motivates me to do better than what i am capable of. this happened at every stage, every time i was criticized, i had to step up on high octane mode. you exactly know who your enemies are. i take it as a stepping stone.,which brings out the best in me to reinvent myself and leave a huge gap between me and them.,finally being with the indian cricket team and then getting into motor racing.and table tennis team representing india,i had the last laugh… my friends.family and my primefit members have always been my source of support even now to upscale and traverse new path… one thing i learnt well is stick on to core competence and not be jack of all trades.try to be the best in what you do.surround yourself with positive people and not curry favours from the players in any way.
when did you start working with bcci?
in 2006 started working with sachin tendulkar that was a greatest shift for me in my carrier and before that too lots of indian players use to come and train with me on a regular basis for years,apart from crickters-racers,tennis players,table tennis players,sailors etc-still they come to me even now…. before that i had an unofficial stint with them when i was at the mrf pace foundation in 2002. in 2008 i set up an official 10 day national camp for players who weren’t touring at that point of time. anil kumble was heading that camp. loads of fielding drills and other things were introduced at that time. anil kumble was absolutely fantastic in setting up the entire process and protocols in place. a through professional he was.then in 2009, i joined mumbai indians. after that i was with the indian team from 2009-2013. my last tour was in zimbabwe.
how did you come up with the idea of sports dynamix and turned into an entrepreneur?
see, i am not a businessman. i am a professional (smiles). i wanted to start something of my own, not a general fitness centre. with my limited resources i started this in 2014, a humble beginning infact with some cutting edge fitness equipments for the first time in india. since i had been thinking to do this for a long time – a facility only for sports people. we only take about 50-60 people, not more than that because quality will suffer if i increase that number. in the future i’m planning to open more centers in different parts of the country. if someone is interested, i may open them in mumbai too since i feel mumbai is an amazing place for any sports trainign centre. every year we try to add something new. it’s a team work here and we take responsibilities here.i would like to work with the like minded people with passion to serve the country and make our country top in the world,.small baby steps we have taken towards the goal….
what does the future hold for sports dynamix? do you plan to expand it geographically or even overseas?
yes, that’s the plan. the covid-19 pandemic has affected it a bit.but need a paradigm shift to make it succesful.we have tied up with soccer,shuttle,cricket,racing and tt academies as their partners in fitness and we are in a good space overall.we had ciouple or enquireis to open up overseas too.. not just from money-angle, we need more centers to produce athletes from the grassroots level. for sports dynamix, our aim is to develop as many grassroots athletes as we can. just training a couple of elite athletes and flaunting around is not what we plan. it’s not possible to bring results from international athletes and players by just training for a couple of years. it is a long term plan that needs to be put in place. india has a huge pool of talent on all fields,which need to identified and nuurtured and harness their potential thro proper process and protocols in place.new shift is the key to success. or else after evry olympice we have enquiry commission for failure till next olympics or world championship…
ltad – (Long-term athlete development) is critical in an indian context rather than copying it from the developed contries since there are so many variables,which does not deem fit in india.
Right now you are training with g. sathiyan and sharath kamal. how long have they been with you?
they’ve been training with me for the past 4 years. these lads are supremely fit. i coordinate with their respective coaches and learn the art of the game and skill and the players constant needs.. it’s a long term development. we cannot copyworkouts from the western countries and bring them to india. that is the mistake that’s happening currently. our country is different in every level starting from physiologically,sociologically,psychologically , to physical ability, genetics, food, etc. people talk about re-inventing the wheel. it’s not about re-inventing, it’s about re-engineering. we have worlds most top space scientists, bussiness tycoons,doctors, software engineers and many brilliant minds. we should harness our potential properly to develop our own ecosystem. then let the world copy our system rather than us copying them.make in india and make the world see us.
What is the difference between physio and strength & conditioning?
there’s a big difference between them. each of the m have a different role to play in sport and at the same time work as a team with synergy to get the desired result for the team or individual.
in a lighter way quote-
strength and conditioning professionals prepare physios and doctors repair
physios-they are inchareg of the assesment,screening and treating a player in prehab or rehab process.injury prevention and cure mode.
s&c-involved in both strength and conditioning and allied field of fitness specific to sport and skill..
thers are physios and trainer specialising in a particular field of extertise- like postural analyst/movement specialist/sprint specialist/pilates or yoga specialist/plyometric specialist and many more avenues to specilise on.
Why did you start Sports Dynamix in Chennai?
well, i am local boy here. i am born and brought up here. so i started here.i love chennai. i would have loved to start in mumbai too, one of my favorite places i love the dedication of mumbai athletes, love their professionalism and energy of mumbai
Do you think more opportunities will arise in this profession ahead in india?
oh yes absolutely massive oppurtunities in sports and allied fields in the future.multi billion dollr bussiness,. one has to re-invent themselves constantly to keep abrest with the world. things have changed on how you look at fitness be it general fitness or specialised fitness. this is a huge profession with many opportunities. last 5-10 years, this industry has really grown. a lot of youngsters are taking up this profession and i see a lot of them coming from usa,uk, australia etc. to take up strength & conditioning in india. and a lot of credit for that goes to the fit india movemen by our prime minister and sports ministryt. it’s an amazing initiative that was started. it has made a lot of people to take up this field. it gives you immense satisfaction when someone you’ve helped train, gets a medal or achieves something. those feelings cannot be bought.to see indian flag flying at the highiest level and hearing the national anthem is the ultimate feeling,money cannot buy.
highlights of ramji srinivasan’s career as s&c coach:
• he was the first ever indian strength and conditioning (s&c) coach of the 2011 world cup-winning indian cricket team. and chamipons trophys and test team
• first indian s&c coach to win ipl and champions league trophies.
• first indian s&c coach to train formula one driver narain karthikeyan and karun chandhok.
• first indian s&c coach for a1 gp formula racing-team india.
• first indian s&c coach for indian rally team.