• June 15, 2024



Uburn Project is a mild to moderate physical activity program that is the brainchild of Dejan de Zoysa and Udesh ‘Hetti’ Hettiarachchi. “Its simplicity is its greatest sophistication”, because Uburn is all about finding a utilitarian niche in providing systematic and sustained fitness for everyone, according to these two fitness enthusiasts and advocates. The name ‘Uburn’ (youburn) came from a play on ‘urban’ as the Uburn Project started off with wanting to encourage an active lifestyle for the increasing urban demographic in and around Colombo. The “burn” part of the name soon becomes obvious to anyone who has been willing to give it a go! Founded in 2013, it is now into its 3rd year in extending what Dejan and Hetti like to call a ‘sustained lifestyle in fitness’. According to Dejan and Hetti (referred to as the duo) working out must be done in a manner that is sustained over prolonged periods of time for maximum effect to be derived. According to them “It does not matter the intensity of the training, but instead it is how consistently you train that matters”, making Uburn sound almost casual. “In fitness, duration should not be measured as a session, but in years”. The first and foremost- and the only way to do this is-is to have fun doing it – and fun is taken utterly for granted at Uburn sessions.

The duo have been great friends for over a decade, and most of that time was spent rowing a boat together. Having been extremely competitive in local and International Rowing Regattas, the duo’s competitive streak lasted for over a decade. They have the honor of having represented Sri Lanka at the 2004 SAF Games held in Islamabad, Pakistan, where they won 2 silver medals each in the lightweight categories. Both Dejan and Hetti are FISA certified Rowing coaches (International Rowing Federation) since 2014. They have experience in coaching school rowing for over a decade as well as at the Colombo Rowing Club. Their career tallies more wins than losses; but more importantly, it lacks any serious injuries or mismanagement of their physical selves. “This was a blessing for us as well as something we cultivated with awareness. The singular most important aspect of what kept us well primed is ‘conditioning work’

Essentially, Uburn is concerned with keeping anyone and everyone primed by conditioning their bodies in a systematic fashion, over prolonged periods of time. Conditioning work is defined by the duo as, ‘non stressful and repetitive movement to time and rhythm’. A simple breakdown below,

Mobility –

Concerned with range of motion for muscular extension and retraction, and also touching on body stability.

Flexibility –

Increasing the individual’s current range of motion while improving stability as well.

Calisthenics –

Mild to moderate strength work with utility of body weight and external props (such as steps, bars, or hills)

Utility training –

Which is Uburn’s unique mix up of conditioning circuits and mild cardio training.

Mileage –

Medium distances (the duo are heavy on endurance and will always encourage you to go beyond what you think you can) at relatively low intensities of brisk walking or jogging. Conditioning work has kept the duo active and primed to involve themselves in more extreme activities even after their competitive phase. “We’re not motivated to stop, because we have fun doing it (being physically active) and so we continuously keep our selves physically primed”. This is what Uburn extends to the average person, the amateur athlete or the serious athlete. In keeping primed the duo has been able to amongst other things, run marathons, and row half way around Sri Lanka over a period of 18 days in a purpose built ‘Ocean Rowing’ boat, built and captained by a person the duo refers to as their guru, Chanaka Wickramasuriya.

“What we can do – we figured anyone can do”

say Dejan and Hetti, and the sole purpose of Uburn is to impart this belief to anyone who attends a session at Uburn. When they first started off, the plan was to empower people with the intricacies of how to plan a simple work out without the use of equipment and with focus of technique and efficiency. The plan was to have clients leaving Uburn in 6 months to 1 year with enough motivation, confidence and a high aptitude to keep up

“What we can do – we figured anyone can do”

“This works out well as all our workouts are based on being outdoors and one does not have to depend on gym hours or be intimidated by equipment and gear etc”. However, they were overwhelmed by the feedback they got as trainers and motivators, and by the amazing synergy and enthusiasm of the Uburn group that formed– clients from various walks of life, with varying degrees of fitness and motivation, who came together as irrepressible Uburners. So, the goals of Uburn changed from that of a revolving door to that of building an inclusive community based on simple and sustained fitness for everyone.

“Uburn is for everyone – all ages and all aptitudes”. The duo say this with pride as their work out structure enables every person to work out together and is not dependent on any individuals capacity for high intensity workouts. “So essentially you cultivate a frequency that keeps improving your own skill, strength and overall fitness, from whatever point you begin. All work outs are outdoors and in a much healthier environment than at a gym. The workouts can be done at a higher frequency than visiting a gym or in

Monday –

Full body (Variations on Conditioning Circuits or Cardio) + Light mileage


Tuesday –

Lower body (Variations on Plyometrics / Conditioning or Speed) + Core work

Tuesday –

Lower body (Variations on Plyometrics / Conditioning or Speed) + Core work

Sample of Tuesdays


30 second circuits of following exercises X 4 sets /// Followed by 10 min jogging or brisk walking
– Alternating lunges (front)
– Half squat pulses
– Step shuffles
– Burpees
– Bridges
– Toe touch crunches
– Standing punches with hip rotation
– Calf raises
(All exercises have variations on beginner / intermediate and advanced levels – so no one needs to be intimidated!).

Wednesday –

Surprise mix up – Usually an obstacle course (weather dependent) / Tabata work (interval training) or Mileage 3-5km at your own pace

Thursday –

Upper body (Variations on Conditioning Circuits and Plank work) + Core work

Friday –

Full body (Variations of complex movements in the Uburn has a healthy track record for continuing clients and only very minor injuries. All sessions begin with a good warm up process and a small brief on how the session will flow. There is no sense of ever “having to keep up or stress out about ones aptitude”. Both Dejan and Hetti are known to be vigilant on form and technique and have repute for creating a good rhythm for the particular exercise (or set) as well as the session. They joke about it coming from their Rowing background. The session ends with a debrief and personal motivation to each and everyone present at the session. High fives and hugs are not uncommon after workouts with Uburn.

Uburn is a systematic process, and results are quick. “You will simply be a fitter and healthier person”. According to Dejan and Hetti there is a false correlation between being fit and being toned or cut. The duo is quick to state that Uburn is not a weight loss program, a toning bar, a crossfit box, or a HIIT type of program, although it is a highly recommended (and necessary) supplement to all of the above mentioned. Uburn is not concerned with stereotyping a certain look or fitness persona, and has ‘inclusivity’ as a fundamental philosophy. “We are only concerned with the fundamentals of fitness- that is essentially what is

Read Previous

A Passion for Fitness & Rugby pavithra Sri Lanka & CR & FC Rugby Captain

Read Next