From fitness comes confidence, and wins, says sports prodigy Pankaj Advani
Pankaj Advani is a 23-time billiards and snooker world champion. He has achieved the hat-trick of hat-tricks in English billiards, holding the World, Asian, and Indian National Championship titles simultaneously — in six different years. The 34-year-old is the only player ever to win world titles in both the long and short formats of snooker (15-red standard, and 6-red) and both formats of English billiards (time and point). Advani is also India’s first world champion in 6-red snooker He’s received the Arjuna Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. Here’s how he stays on top of his game.
Fitness for me is a synergy between my physical, mental and spiritual state of being. I believe when one is fit, the body language and aura completely changes. It is reflected in one’s posture, and confidence. For a sportsperson this helps as it keeps opponents on their toes.
My exercise regime is simple — cardio workouts, weights and exercises for agility. I do spend a lot of time stretching because in my sport one has to be really flexible and agile. Our bodies have to stretch in the most extraordinary ways sometimes, to make the perfect shot. I exercise at least three or four times a week, with a mixed regimen. Plus, I play and practise every day.
I hate being sedentary for an extended period. I have to just get up and walk if nothing else. I enjoy walking and given Bengaluru’s pleasant weather throughout the year, I can take brisk walks that refresh me.
I don’t follow any diets. I believe if one eats in the right proportion and gets one’s workouts in, you can enjoy all foods. I am a vegetarian, so I eat lots of vegetables, dals, rotis, rice and curd.
When I’m travelling, which is a lot of the time, I try and eat a lot of stir-fries and salads. I binge on fresh fruit, fresh juices and dry fruit. They keep me alert and energized. I avoid oily foods, especially at night. I try to keep dinner as light as possible. Desserts are my guilty pleasure.
My mother calls me a pressure cooker because she believes that I perform best when under pressure. That doesn’t always work in my favour. Deep breathing helps in times of stress, helps one refocus and realign with one’s current plan of action.
I enjoy unwinding by listening to music and watching movies. I make sure to always get enough sleep. I believe one needs to set the phone aside during time with family and friends. I do that often and prefer spending time with nature, which soothes the mind.