Wrestlers do a host of other exercises, and each akhara has its own particular regimen of training techniques. Virtually all akharas advocate rope climbing and running. Many akharas are equipped with large logs or heavy pieces of lumber to which wrestlers harness themselves. Pulling these around the pit strengthens the lower back, thighs, and feet while it also develops stamina (see plate 15). Wrestlers are often instructed to run at least a few kilometers before coming to the akhara in the morning in order to build up both speed and endurance.
Some gurus advocate various games which serve to build stamina and speed. One popular game is referred to as langur daur (monkey’s run) wherein wrestlers run around the perimeter of the pit on all fours trying to catch whoever is in the lead. To strengthen their legs and feet, wrestlers often run around the akhara weighted down with someone on their backs. To build up their arms and develop coordination and balance, they have someone hold up their legs as they run around the pit on their hands. Sometimes a wrestler will lie face down in the pit and have a heavier wrestler sit on him as he tries to stand up. Jumping rope has not been adopted by many Indian wrestlers, but jumping up and down in place or hopping around the akhara on one foot is common. Some wrestlers develop idiosyncratic exercises. I have heard of some who push cars to develop their legs. Others fill up gunnysacks with sand and lift, kick, and throw these as they see fit. In rural areas some wrestlers harness themselves to plows, grinding stones, and waterwheels. I was told of one wrestler who started his exercise regimen by carrying a buffalo calf across a river. He did this every day until after a year he was able to lift and carry a full-grown buffalo with ease.
Although formal exercises are clearly distinguished from everyday physical activities, there is a sense in which work, as physical labor, is translated by the wrestler into a form of exercise. Railway porters in particular regard carrying heavy loads as a way in which they develop their strength. Undoubtedly there are many porters who regard such hard and poorly remunerated work as simply tiring. However, the wrestling porters I know have successfully interpreted what is in fact a form of exploitation into a form of productive exertion. They have embodied their own labor power, so to speak. Similarly, many of the young wrestling dairy farmers I know speak of milking cows and buffalos as a form of exercise rather than work.