Bollywood’s fitness fanatics and their tips
It’s March. Have you forgotten your New Year’s resolution to get in shape? We thought as much. So we got Shama Bhagat to ask Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Anil and Sonam Kapoor for tips to re-inspire you.Updated: Mar 08, 2013 18:26 IST
My day ends with an hour of meditation: Akshay Kumar
Akshay Kumar was a fitness freak long before he joined the film industry. He has always maintained that he treats his body like a temple. Even though the martial arts enthusiast doesn’t follow any set rules as far as his fitness regimen is concerned, he does have some simple directives he sticks to when it comes to exercise and eating well.
"I eat home-cooked food and I do not take any myoplex or protein supplements," says Khiladi Kumar, as he is fondly called. "My meals have always consisted of my mother’s parathas. I eat to my heart’s content, but at the same time, I also make sure I burn every extra calorie I consume."
From Akshay to you
"Never treat your injuries lightly. Either rest or go to a physiotherapist. Don’t try and deal with your injuries on your own. Fortunately, I have never suffered any major injuries"
How he works out
Akshay’s day begins with a walk on the beach at 4.30 am. “That’s how I warm up before I start exercising, which is followed by an hour of martial arts. For me, martial arts is a way of life. I also alternate between kick boxing and shadow boxing. And I do a lot of stretching and yoga to cool off. Then I meditate for an hour,” says the actor, who has made a mark for himself as an action star. “Morning time is ‘me time’. It gives me the space to be on my own and think.”
When he’s shooting and doesn’t have the time to dedicate to the martial arts, he makes do with even a staircase.
“When I was shooting for Singh Is Kinng (2008) in Singapore I would climb 75 floors. That is my way to fitness,” says Akshay, who has an artificial tree in his gym that he climbs regularly.
What he eats
Akshay’s day begins with a healthy breakfast. His meal consists of parathas and a glass of milk, followed by a bowl of fruit at noon.
“I never skip my meals unless I am very full. Lunch is dal, roti, vegetables, chicken and a bowl of curd. I usually avoid tea and coffee. In the evenings, I have a glass of fresh fruit juice without sugar,” says Akshay. “I don’t eat after 8 pm, so dinner is usually light, comprising a roti and chicken. I go to bed early, unless I am shooting. My day ends with an hour of meditation and by 10 pm, I am in bed.”
How he stays well
Some might say that Akshay’s secret to his energy is his enthusiasm. For him, exercising isn’t an effort, it’s a way of life. “I do not stay fit just because it is a fad, I love being fit,” says Akshay.
His skin and hair solutions
“When you treat your body like a temple, it takes care of everything automatically. Drink lots of water, hydrate yourself and that takes care of your skin and your hair. You don’t need to do anything more than that,” he says.
Sonam Kapoor, a fashion icon for millions of young fans, says that fitness is a way of life for her because her parents are avid exercisers. "I have played sports and danced throughout my childhood and adolescent years," she says.
But the actor really began taking fitness seriously at the age of 18, when an overdose of junk food caused her to gain weight, creating health issues. And by the time she was 20 and had entered the film industry, Sonam was on a fitness regime for life.
"By then I was back at home with my parents, where I got good, nutritious home-cooked food unlike the junk food I lived off wh
ile I was in boarding school in Singapore," Sonam explains. "I exercised daily (Bharat Thakur’s artistic yoga and spinning being my favourites), and took control of my well-being. When you are that young, inches start to drop off instantly and I realised how much better I looked and felt, not to mention how much better my clothes looked on me!"
From Sonam to you
"Make your exercise routine something you love. This will ensure you stick to it. Fitness is all about lifestyle changes and doing things in moderation"
How she works out
Sonam begins her day with cardio and weight training. “I love weight training!” she enthuses. “My cardio is usually the recumbent bike as I have a knee injury, but the weight training has strengthened my lower body so I have been able to get back to jogging at intervals.”
Sonam doesn’t stick to just one kind of work out, however. “That’s to make sure my body doesn’t hit a plateau,” she says. “My trainer, Radhika Karle, makes me do pilates on the reformer for core strength and gives me flexibility, functional training and interval training where I am made to do two-three minute bouts of high-intensity cardio in the middle, yoga, and even swimming, which keeps me from getting bored. The routine also changes based on the goal I have to achieve for the film I am shooting for at that time.”
Whilst training, she makes sure that she does the warm-up and cool-down exercises. “My warm up is either a 10-minute walk, surya namaskars or foot work on the reformer. For the cool-down sessions, I start with standing stretches, followed by seated stretches, and then on my back, where my trainer, Radhika, stretches me out as I yell in pain!”
Sonam’s top-most fitness goal right now is to stay healthy. “And I need to tone my body for better stamina. I have long working hours (some days 6 am to 10 pm) and I need all the energy I can get to look and feel good in front of the camera.” While travelling for her shoots, Sonam adapts her fitness regime to what she has available around her. “Swimming, jogging, switching from reformer pilates to mat pilates for core work, and using my body weight instead of regular weights — that’s what I do,” she says, smiling. But at the same time, she does go easy on her body when she is not shooting. “I don’t stop, I just work out at a lower intensity,” she says, adding that taking care of exercise-related injuries is also vital. “I get massages, I stretch my muscles after every work out and I do pilates on the reformer, which relieves pain and strengthens muscles to avoid further injuries,” she says.
What she eats
Sonam begins her day with a good breakfast consisting of half a fruit and three-fourths of a cup of her favourite whole grain cereal with a cup of low fat milk, followed by multivitamin and mineral supplements. “I drink water throughout the day, but warm water is only for my green tea and black coffee,” she says.
At midday, it’s fruit again, with protein shakes, whole grain bars, or chaas (buttermilk). Lunch is most often a multigrain sandwich when she is on the sets, and dinner is always light — a soup, salad, or grilled fish and vegetables.
How she stays well
Sonam ends her day with a hot shower and a good book. And she makes sure the room temperature is at a comfortable level so she can sleep well. “Sleep is very important,” she says. “Exercise without recovery can do more harm to your body than help it. A good night’s sleep makes me feel and look refreshed.”
Her skin and hair solutions
“It’s important to tone and moisturise. I don’t leave home without under-eye cream and sunscreen.” Her favourite skin and hair products are White Perfect Laser by L’Oreal (a moisturiser), L’Oreal’s UV Perfect sunscreen, L’Oreal Pearl Perfect (for cleansing), and L’Oreal Fall Repair 3x shampoo and conditioner. “I wash my hair every two days and do spa treatments once a month,” she says.
At 53, Anil Kapoor looks just as fit as he did when he entered the film industry in the early ’80s. Ask him how he manages it and he bursts into laughter. "Positivity towards life is the secret," he reveals. "The more you stay away from negativity, the healthier you will be. More than physically fit, you have to be mentally fit. Fitness is not in the body, but in the mind. Be peaceful and stay away from all things that bring negativity. Thank God for what he has given you. Life automatically becomes better. Exercise and diets are
Still, he doesn’t just sit around. Anil has had a lifelong relationship with diet and exercise. "I realised the importance of fitness when I was doing films like Lamhe (1991) and 1942 A Love Story (1994)," he says. "I had met with an accident and when I was in bed I realised that life is a marathon, not a 100 metre run. That was when I took to exercising and maintaining a good diet."
From Anil to you
“Negativity is very harmful for your body, your blood circulation, your heart and everything. Just be positive”
What he eats
Anil’s day begins with a few vitamin supplements, which he eats on an empty stomach. “I wake up at 6 am and thereafter I have a banana, which provides me with carbohydrates, potassium and iron,” he says. “I have around five to six meals a day, which means a meal every two and a half hours. I count my calories with every meal.”
Breakfast consists of eggs or muesli. At about 11 am, he has approximately 140 grams of protein in the form of either a myoshake or a protein shake. Sometimes, though, that is replaced with muesli.
“Lunch consists of fish,” says Anil. “I have lot of protein through fish in different forms so that it’s light and easy to digest. In the evenings, I have a shake or a small ham, chicken or turkey sandwich. I wind up the day with an early dinner that comprises about 250 grams of chicken or fish. I also drink lots of water to hydrate myself.”
How he stays well
Anil says that he’s never faced any problems with sleep. “I am usually tired after a hard day’s work and I go to bed peacefully,” he says. “People who are stressed suffer from lack of sleep. The best way to get sleep is to tire yourself out at work or else feel grateful to God and be positive. Like I said, think positive.”
His skin and hair solutions
He’s an actor, so you’d imagine that he has a skin and hair care regime to adhere to, but Anil says he doesn’t. “I usually joke with my brothers that they don’t take care of their hair,” he laughs. “But I don’t do anything to maintain my own. I am very manly when it comes to these things. Men usually have rough skin and I like being natural. I believe in natural things. Earlier there were no creams or treatments for male skin and hair, yet men looked good because they were fit and healthy. So be fit, exercise and eat right and that’s the best way to maintain your hair and skin. The women of my house force me to use creams and to oil my hair, and I give in some times, but not on a regular basis.”
Anil tries to create variations in the way he exercises. "My workouts change from day to day," he says. "My day begins at 6 am with 10 minutes of cardio as a warm-up exercise. Then three days a week, I work out in the gym and the other days I work out outdoors. Every day, I work on different parts of my body."
Anil’s career has influenced the way he thinks he should look. "I want to be fit and look lean, because a lean look lets you do all kinds of roles — from comedy and romance to drama. When you bulk up, it limits your roles."
And just as he likes his roles to be different, he likes his workouts to vary as well. "I keep changing my fitness activities," says Anil. "The last two years I was into hot yoga. Before that, I did Tai Chi for a year. I keep mixing different forms of exercising. I also did cycling for few years."
To deal with exercise-related injuries, Anil tries various things. "Sportspeople and actors can never be free of injuries," he says. "They have to live in pain. The last time I suffered from frozen shoulder, I tried physiotherapy, but that didn’t work. I finally took acupuncture treatment from a doctor from Singapore. It was painful, but it was the best treatment for a frozen shoulder."
Fitness involves bringing about a change in your lifestyle: Sonakshi Sinha
Sonakshi Sinha was a bright chubby girl before she decided to storm Bollywood. But in no time, she successfully fought the battle of the bulge and proved to the country and the industry that fitness isn’t just about being thin — a misconception which even she believed.
"Since I love food, I wasn’t ready to give it up easily. My mom would often chide me into losing weight, but I turned a deaf ear.
Dad was more concerned about my well-being. But my love for food made me come up with every possible excuse to avoid exercising or dieting."
Sonakshi was motivated by Salman Khan. "He was after me to lose weight and when I realised he was serious about signing me for Dabangg (2009), I decided to do it." But the process wasn’t easy. "It involved giving up what I loved the most — good food," she says. "But when I started training, I realised that fitness is actually a combination of physical and mental wellness. Fitness involves bringing about a change in your lifestyle, which includes choosing the right food, exercising regularly and thinking positive. And it leaves you feeling healthy from within."
From Sonakshi to you
“Weight loss is not about shedding fat, it’s an emotional journey. You start feeling good not only on the outside, but on the inside too. I would love to tell my fans this, and encourage them to stay fit and eat healthy”
How she works out
Sonakshi first hit the gym when she started preparing herself for her Bollywood debut. “Since I had never been to the gym, my trainer chalked out a plan for me. It included a variety of exercises, cardio, weight training and spinning. I was also made to do squats and abdominal crunches. The initial days were extremely difficult. My body ached so much that I found it hard to even wake up in the morning,” says Sonakshi, who then started getting her body used to the workout.
“I began visiting the gym twice a day. As I started losing weight, staying fit was the foremost thing on my mind. Suddenly, the weighing machine was my best friend. I loved keeping track of how much I lost each day. And even a 500 gram increase in my weight would worry me and encourage me to put in more effort.”
The actor is currently training with Yasmin Karachiwala, who works out with her four to five times a week for an hour and a half each day. “I am now focusing on losing a little more weight and toning my body further, my work out is high on cardio and functional training. I have recently incorporated cycling and swimming in my regimen as well. When I do not have the time for my routine, I go for a swim or a jog. I also play tennis,” she says.
What she eats
Giving up food was the most difficult thing for Sonakshi to do. “But my trainer put me on a healthy diet, which didn’t make me hungry, though I had to give up junk food. I started with a high-protein diet and then cut down my carbohydrate intake. I lost almost four kilos the first month and I was super kicked. That motivated me further,” she says. Luckily, she doesn’t feel the urge to binge. “I am allowed to satisfy my cravings once a month, but only after spending an extra 20 minutes in the gym. I have lots of water and green tea to hydrate myself. That’s very important. I have dal, chicken, egg whites and fish for protein and lots of salads,” she says.
How she stays well
Sonakshi eats small meals every three hours to keep her energy levels high. She attends hot yoga classes three times a week and then hits the gym. “Since I have a tendency to put on weight, I really can’t go easy on my workout.
So no matter how busy I am, I have to make
time for the gym and lead a disciplined life.”
Her skin and hair solutions
“Good skin and hair are in my genes,” says Sonakshi. “But I drink lots of water to keep my skin fresh and religiously follow the cleansing, toning and moisturising routine every day. I never leave home without an SPF 50 sunscreen and I remove make up before I sleep.” Continuous shoots mean she has to keep changing her hairstyles, so she pampers her hair with olive oil and coconut oil massages. “I eat fish and fish oil supplements to keep my hair healthy,” she says.