Fitness is a very personal term which means having a healthy mind, body, and spirit to allow you to maximise your potential and help others maximise their potential,” says Yasmin Karachiwala, a leading fitness expert behind Bollywood’s most sculpted bodies. With a career spanning over two decades, Yasmin is known to transform bodies. She is the creative mastermind behind the much acclaimed fitness studio Body Image and has also authored a book titled Sculpt and Shape: The Pilates Way.
Here are excerpts from an interview with her:
A career in fitness is still seen as an offbeat profession in India. How did you start?
Earlier, there was this notion that women can’t lift weights because they will start looking like men. And when I started doing it, everyone told me how I’d become muscular. My mentor and teacher Sensei Pervez Mistry taught me everything I know about fitness. I then went on to become a personal trainer and started a little studio in my house. It was a new concept but very well accepted and I started making my mark in the fitness industry. I felt that I wanted to go a step further and needed to learn something that would enhance my knowledge of fitness and I discovered pilates. In 2006, I got a certificate in pilates.
How is pilates more beneficial than other exercises and for which body type it works the best?
Discovering pilates was the best thing that happened to me. I immediately felt the impact that it had on my mind and body. Pilates works on your balance, coordination, strength, flexibility, precision, balances muscular development and whole body movement — it is the best combination of yoga and strength training. Pilates movements are controlled and has minimal impact on your joints, while strengthening your muscles which support your bones and continuously working your core. Pilates helps you enjoy daily activities and sports with greater ease, better performance and less chance of injury.
In the industry for more than 20 years, what changes have you observed in your clients (approach towards fitness)?
Twenty six years ago when I first got into fitness, women did aerobics and weight training was for the men who wanted buff muscle. But gradually, there was was a positive shift to women starting to strength train. Again in 2006 when I introduced pilates for the first time no one had heard of it. Then bodies started showing results, celebrities were practicing and validating the benefits of pilates and people started understanding the beauty of it. I always advocate that being fit is a journey and not a destination.
What is the secret of your own fit body?
A combination of weights, pilates and cardio is ideal. I believe in eating clean and avoid anything that has preservatives. I personally don’t take any supplements, and neither do I recommend them. My belief is that if you have a wholesome and well-balanced food-plan, it should cover all that your body requires. My eating mantra is ‘eat smart’ and don’t be on a ‘see-food’ diet (you don’t have to eat everything you see). I make food plans for my clients and not diets, because it’s a lifestyle plan. I like to change people’s eating habits which is going to last them for life. I don’t count calories — each meal should have a portion of protein, fibre, good fats and carbs.
What is the right age to hit the gym?
This is the biggest notion around. Factually speaking a baby in the very first year of life, develops stamina, power and flexibility. Crawling, walking, running and cycling are sort of natural gymming exercises where the muscles get exerted against resistance. For children I prefer group activities like a sport, which helps a lot more in the long run. Taking part in group physical activities helps the child to develop a better sociable personality, and also keeps them motivated as they work as a team. However weight training is not advisable for children below the age of 16.
Tell us about the secret behind Bollywood’s most sculpted bodies?
Fitness is a top priority for most Bollywood personalities and irrespective of their crazy schedules, they always make time for fitness. What I enjoy most about working with celebrities is their commitment to the way they want to look for each role, and how hard they’re willing to work for it. Fitness is a passion for them and this excites me as a trainer as each look requires a different training approach and most times I have to figure out the right combination of workouts.
Katrina is our country’s dancing diva and almost everyone strives to be her. Her workouts range from pilates to functional training to cardio intervals. Deepika is elegant and lean and she enjoys doing pilates which in turn works wonders for her body. Alia is young and energetic, she loves doing something new and challenging everyday.
Do you think your success will help young fitness trainers make it big in the industry?
I have always aspired to set the best example as a mentor and role model. Today pilates is such a craze with everyone, when I was the first to introduce it. I’m happy that my pioneering efforts are inspiring others and I’m happy to share my success for a fitter and healthier generation.