A chat with Jamil Haider Rizvi, the owner of The Dojo and a mixed martial arts expert
The News on Sunday: The Dojo is an unfamiliar moniker. Tell us how you came up with it?
Jamil Haider Rizvi: The first martial art I ever trained in was Kyokushin Karate, which is a kind of traditional Japanese karate. Since then I’ve been obsessed with the Japanese culture, and it was always a dream to have a space of my own which I’d call The Dojo.
The word literally translates to “place of the way”. Dojos were commonly used for meditative practices and martial arts. Since our vision [for The Dojo] was to make it a platform for health and wellness, we named it as such.
TNS: What are some of the programmes offered at the facility?
JHR: We currently offer two programmes — namely, Quarantoned and Safeboxing.
The former is an exclusively bodyweight programme that focuses on endurance, strength and cardio, and the latter is a socially-distanced kickboxing programme which is focused on shadow drills and technique training with conditioning.
TNS: Do you offer any equipment at your facility or does it solely provide an open space for workouts?
JHR: Prior to the pandemic we had equipment-based programmes lined up for our launch, just like all other training spaces do. But given the circumstances, the functionality of the programmes was revisited for the safety of our clients. For the time being we are offering bodyweight programmes only, as this precludes use of any shared equipment. Once the situation changes and such precautions are no longer necessary, we will reveal our repertoire of programmes.
TNS: What was the inspiration behind the rooftop aspect of the place?
JHR: The moment you reach the rooftop, take a deep breath and soak in the beautiful Lahore sun, you feel inspired. We know we’re offering a fresh perspective to our clients who’ve wanted to move out of conventional, indoor training spaces. We are definitely the first of our kind in Lahore!
TNS: What kind of changes did you have to make on account of the pandemic, to attract customers?
JHR: In terms of the outlook and environment, we really didn’t have to make any changes. The biggest change was the functionality of the space. From a capacity of 20-plus people in one training slot we have had to reduce it to only six people. Additionally, the place has no air-conditioners and no doors. From your car to the studio, we’ve made sure that there are no points of contact. You walk up about 170 stairs (which isn’t a bad warm-up) and find a mandatory hand sanitiser pump, a hand-washing facility and a disinfectant for your shoes before you step onto the workout space. We’ve marked out zones for our clients 12-foot apart. Besides, it’s mandatory for everybody to bring their own yoga mats, water bottles, towels and masks.
Lastly, after every session, the AstroTurf is sanitised thoroughly.
TNS: It’s a huge responsibility. Do you have any apprehensions?
JHR: There is absolutely no doubt that it’s a huge responsibility to make sure a safe environment is provided to everybody at The Dojo. Our only apprehension would be that the SOPs, precautions and measures are followed by all those who become a part of our [The Dojo’s] community. Without their cooperation, we won’t be able to get through this.
— Marium Mazhar