“Fitness – if it came in a bottle, everybody would have a great body,” said singer-actress Cher, known for an amazing body herself. Sadly, while science hasn’t yet been able to pour the fomula into a bottle, some experts have nailed the easy routes to ensuring you get fit, fast. They share with us their one fail-proof way to getting a fantastic body, inside out.
Break the monotony
CJ, Group Ex manager for the Indian leg of the international gym chain Fitness First, suggests “an exercise regimen with variety; one that works on strength, cardio, flexibility and conditioning.” Introducing variation in your workout not only takes tedium out of exercise, but it also targets muscles that may be neglected if you go through the same old routine day after day.
Developing smaller support muscles is as important as working on the bigger muscle groups. This minimises the risk of injury and gives the body better definition overall.
But before plunging into adding variations to your routine, consult your trainer, and tell him about any niggling pain or injuries. A wrong workout is an unwise workout. Ask the trainer to give you a combination suitable for your body type. This would get you faster results and keep you motivated.
Buy a resistance tube for a home sesion. This functional equipment can give you a full-body workout.
Make less more
It’s not necessary to put yourself through a gruelling regimen every day, but maintaining a regular exercise rhythm is important. If you exercise in fits and starts, without following any particular routine, take tips on incorporating a little of the fitness spell into your day.
Istayak Ansari, the chief operating office of Gold’s Gym, advises frequent travellers to work out on an average of three times a week. The suggested routine: “Do a full-body circuit training (a combination of weights and cardio) twice a week, and spinning once or twice a week,” he says. “Circuit training helps to burn calories, strengthens muscles and improves metabolism, while spinning keeps the weight in check through an intensive workout and burns about 600-700 calories per session.”
Easy equipment to invest in would be a bicycle for an evening ride, and a pair of thick-soled trainers that are good for both a walk and a jog.
Get going on yoga
Yoga is not just a form of workout, it’s a science in itself. The impact of yogic asanas reaches the deepest recesses of your body, helping it heal and tone.
Eefa Shroff, Pune-based yoga instructor, is a perfect example of what a profound effect yoga can have on the body. Run over by a drunken kid driving a truck, Eefa was told by doctors that her life would be confined to a wheelchair by the time she turned 30. But she refused surgeries and turned to yoga, practising daily without fail. “I did yoga a lot, walked, ran and waited to turn 30 – and did that quite a few years ago. And no wheelchair!” says Eefa.
Payal Gidwani, yoga teacher to celebrities, explains why it is so effective: “Yoga works on strength, endurance, flexibility, body composition, body fat and mental and spiritual levels, too.”
A few yogic positions such as the bow position (dhanurasana) or the snake position (bhujangasana) also serve as a good warm-up and cool-down routine before and after a regular gym session.
For daily asanas at home, invest in a non-slip yoga mat, a cotton mat, some loose harem pants and a foam brick.
Eat, don’t diet
Moderation is in, and clichéd diets are out. Dr Vivek Talaulikar, director of Fortis La Femme, recommends eating small portions of regular foods instead of following some new fad diet every now and then, and then giving in to the inevitable craving.
For women, greasy foods do worse than just deposit adipose in the body; they play with one’s hormones and lead to acne and high levels of bad cholesterol. Replace fried foods with “wholegrain cereals, skimmed milk, egg, figs, flax seeds and other protein-rich foods such as grilled chicken or fish, or soy if you are a vegetarian,” suggests Dr Chiranjiv Chhabra, dermatologist and founder of the clinic Skin Alive. “Fruits, especially citrus fruits, are good for the skin and slow down ageing.”
Crash diets do not work. What happens is this: as you ruthlessly cut down on your food intake, you burn calories fast for a while, but soon your metabolic rate slows down. The starved body begins to hold on to what little calories it can get. The energy that would have been released from good calories (the right foods) is no longer available to you. So you feel tired and may even pass out. When you finish the crash diet and go back to eating normal, the slowed down metabolism can’t burn the calories, and you put the weight back on. Is it even worth the bother?
I never really believed in group exercise till I wandered into a BodyCombat class. It changed my life and my body CJ, group class instructor
If my breathing is wrong, my body and mind just won’t respond positively, no matter how hard I work Eefa Shroff, yoga trainer
Their one secret
Follow what best works for you!
Dr Chiranjiv Chhabra, dermatologist, Skin alive
“Grilled fish, citrus fruits and vegetable juices – fresh only – work best for me. Oily deep-fried dishes, fizzy drinks, alcohol and fat-burner capsules and a no-no.”
Dr Vivek Talaulikar, Director, Fortis La Femme
“Starving to get in shape is a myth to me. A wiser bet is to eat in moderation.”
Ishi khosla, Clinical Nutritionist & Director, Whole Foods India
“I follow principles of healthy eating, which include variety, moderation and balance. I have wide variations in the kind of food that I consume. Diets are usually restrictive, monotonous, often nutritionally imbalanced and cannot be sustained long-term.”
Dr M. batra, homeopath, founder & CMD, Dr Batra’s
“I do a blend of cardio and lightweight training, during which I also focus on my breathing. Breathing, to me, holds the key to the harmonious flow of prana
(the life force).”
Dr Samir Parikh, HoD mental health & behaviour sciences, max healthcare
“My workout is early morning jogging with Indian classical music plugged into my ears.”
Dr Neeru Gera, Sr Consultant endocrinologist, Max Healthcare
“Aerobics, swimming, brisk walks and cycling work for me.”