Neetu Singh reveals her secret to staying forever young
As Neetu Singh escorts us to the door after an evening at her Bandra flat, we struggle to wear our shoes. “Here’s a comfortable couch, sit and put them on,” she says. But her trainer, standing on one leg and tying his laces, says: “Next, I’m going to teach you to put on your shoes while standing, and in different positions while balancing yourself.”
Neetu is home after a two-week holiday in Italy “gorging on pasta and cheese”. “In Milan, I had red wine every day,” she confesses. “It’s time to balance it out.” She’s happy to return to her healthy lifestyle.
“I feel fitter than when I was younger,” she beams. “I weighed 68 kilos when I was in the movies. It was Zeenat (Aman) and Parveen (Babi) who popularised that thin figure. People started getting aware of their form in the ’80s.”
Neetu became aware of fitness after she got married. But at first, she was more concerned about her husband (Rishi Kapoor). It’s that way even now. “My husband loves his food and drinks, and has been on the fatter side,” she says. “I’d search the Internet for ways of losing weight– kahin se patla ho jaye, mera hero! But the only exercise he’d do was skipping.”
The seriousness towards her own fitness came after her children, Riddhima and Ranbir, were born. During each of her pregnancies, Neetu put on 25 kilos. “A woman gains maximum weight when she delivers. To get rid of stubborn fat, especially after menopause, you have to have Yogesh.”
Yogesh is Yogesh Bhateja, Neetu’s personal trainer, who gets her to do things she could never imagine. “He knows how to improve my flexibility. Now he tells me that I do it better than his younger clients. At 58, if I’m able to do all that, I think it’s great,” she says.
Never has Neetu thought that staying fit is too much work. “The first thing I do in the morning is call Yogesh to check when he’s going to work with me. Fitness is my priority. The days I don’t work out, I walk, stay mobile. I don’t just sit and watch TV.”
Welcome to Neetu’s world of fitness. She shares her secrets to living a fit life.
1. Be active, stay active
“My world revolves around my work- out, my fitness, Yogesh and food,” says Neetu. “I work with Yogesh half the week and on other days, I walk at least 10,000 steps.”
2. You don’t need a gym membership
But you do need Yogesh, or someone like him, says Neetu. “He can stand in the middle of the footpath and make you work out. He doesn’t need a gym,” she laughs.
Yogesh’s workout plan for Neetu is intense. “It involves yoga, Pilates, TRX, free form board, body blade, wiper kettle bell,” he says. “It is what we call VIIT (Variable Intensity Inter- val Training). High Intensity Interval Workout incorporates a variety of functional training movements where you train at 80-100 per cent effort for a short period of time, followed by an adequate rest and recovery period. It’s always better to mix cardio with strength and core exercises. ”
3. Burn calories
“We do plyometric workouts (explosive movements to power up fat- burning and enhance bone-density), and include core activities,” says Yogesh. “I make sure she burns a good number of calories, so her metabolism does not drop.”
4. Do challenging workouts
Is Neetu allowed high intensity movements like jumping, side-kicks, burpees (squat and thrust performed in quick succession), kick boxing, and so on? “Luckily, I don’t have a medical problem,” says Neetu.
5. Give yourself time
“Exercise is as important as brushing your teeth or taking a shower,” says Neetu. “My mother had a lot of health issues at the age of 50 – high BP, diabetes and high cholesterol.We tend to imitate our parents, and then we say it’s genetic. If I imitate my mother, and eat and drink what she used to, I’d suffer the same. ”
6. Teach your child to eat well
“I’m a Punjabi and I come from a family of food lovers,” says Neetu. “My mother didn’t teach me, because she didn’t know better. With aware- ness now, I can teach my kids, and they are healthy. It doesn’t mean you don’t indulge once in a while. Have ghar ka khana five days a week.”
7.Go low on sweets
On Neetu’s centre table are diet oat cookies and sugar-free chocolate. “At night, I have to have two pieces of dark chocolate. Minimise sweets, don’t delete them.”
8. Eat every two hours
Her daily diet looks like this: Breakfast at 10 am: A bowl of papaya, two egg whites on toast and sugarless tea.
12 noon: Watermelon and a glass of buttermilk.
2 pm: 1 roti, dal or chicken or fish, dry sabzi.
4 pm: 5 almonds and 2 walnuts.
6 pm: 2 cream crackers.
8 pm: A vegetable juice and a fruit.
Dinner at 10 pm: 1 roti with dal or anda bhurji.
“My dietician says three fruits and two cups of vegetables a day have enough fibre,” says Neetu.
9. Reduce oil
“My meal is cooked in three teaspoons of oil,” says Neetu. “One teaspoon of ghee is allowed and I boil or saute my veggies in olive oil.”
10. Give up fatty foods
“I don’t want to lose that one hour of hard work I’ve done by having parathas. I drool over healthy non-fattening Gujju food. I love Japanese food. I like Lebanese food too.”
11. Eliminate refined atta
“Today, everything is becoming refined. I get my wheat ground at the chakki with my driver watching. I couldn’t digest quinoa, I got bloated. Don’t follow diet fads.”
12. Be happy
“You can do little about your hair and skin, it’s all about genes. What you can do is be happy. Touch wood, I’m never sad.”
13. No oil ever
“I’ve never oiled my hair. Once a month, I go to my hairdresser for a colour and cut. I do my own make-up when I go out partying.”
14. Glow from the inside
“After returning from Italy I’ve gained weight. But in a week’s time, it’ll be fine. Cardio opens up the blood vessels and the smooth blood flow gives your skin a glow. Happiness, discipline, exercise – the key to a glowing life.”
15. Be grateful for all that you have
“I’m not religious, but I am spiritual. I don’t do pooja or visit temples. I thank God all the time.”
16. Don’t push the wardrobe
“Wear what you feel comfortable and confident in. At weddings, I wear saris or a dressy salwar kameez. On a daily basis, I wear jeans and T-shirts or tops.”
17. Deal with hormonal changes
“Life is not over at 50 despite meno- pause. The only way to deal with hormonal changes is to keep exercising.”
18. Age is just a number
“You can be a good 60, a good 50 or a good 40 years old – it all depends on you. Be disciplined and consult your doctor for supplements.”
19. Who’s the right trainer
“One who is passionate about his work. I couldn’t bend and touch my toes, but Yogesh taught me a simple trick and I did it. A competent trainer will check your form.”
20. Be passionate
Neetu draws an interesting analogy to her passion for her workout. “Even years of being married, I’m still pas- sionate about my husband and his health, because I want him to be happy.”
BREAKING MENTAL BLOCKS
Neetu’s trainer, Yogesh Bhateja was a Mr Delhi (winner of the Delhi State Body Building competition) and soccer player. Now, he’s a personal trainer working with Neetu Kapoor, Farah Khan, Sonu Sood, Kapil Sharma, Sunil Grover and others.
“When I met Neetu ma’am four months ago, her flexibility was low, her strength was not great and her hamstrings were stiff,” says Yogesh. “She had a mental block that she couldn’t bend forward and one about rotating her neck. So I worked on her flexibility, mobility, neuro-muscular coordination and toning.”
Endorses Neetu, “He has sorted out so many issues, and made me do things I couldn’t imagine I could ever do.”
Yogesh believes it’s important to connect completely with the client. “I like to finish a session on a positive note, which means that after each session you will notice some difference in your body.”
NEETU’S REPORT CARD
Yogesh pronounces that Neetu can now easily perform 10 burpees (explosive and aggressive movement combined with jumps, push- ups; it targets your heart rate), plank position and 25-30 kettlebell swings (to work the muscles in the hips, glutes, hamstrings, lats and pecs, abs, shoulders, and grip).
“When it comes to her core, she is super strong,” says Yogesh. “One day, I told her to try some knee tucks with free- form board, in which you have to be in a push-up position and pull your knees towards your chest. She told me she couldn’t perform that, but I asked her to try it with my help. She did 10 counts easily. She performs her moves better than many young people. Now she can touch her toes and place her palms on the floor without bending her knees. Within four months we have achieved superb levels.”
From HT Brunch, January 22, 2017
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