Back to basics approach, High Intensity Interval Training, wearable tech, movement coaches – celebrity trainers admit that varied routines suit different needs but the trick is in enjoying yourself. By Nandini Kumar
LORRY tyres, battle ropes, a hammer and a sandbag. Functional training equipment like these are part of trainer Kannan S’ workout on Besant Nagar beach in Chennai. “They are essentially crossfit workouts and we juggle repetitions with 15 minutes of football. This helps in building power, endurance and improves flexibility, too,” says the full-time trainer for Tamil actor Suriya. Top trainers like him admit that it is no longer about wanting to look like a celebrity, or rather work out like a celebrity. Today, it’s all about being able to challenge oneself, take fitness levels higher, attempt to run a marathon, cycle in the Himalayas or even enter the Ironman championship. Helping people set tougher goals is a booming fitness industry that is touted at Rs 5 billion in the country, and is expected to touch the Rs 50 billion mark by 2020, according to studies. This not just including the rise of fitness centres across the country, but also the rapidly growing startup ecosystem that is creating innovative gadgets and apps that help you monitor your progress. We find out how these modern-day methods will ensure 2016 is all about being the best version of yourself.
The movement coaches
These professionals are qualified, well versed with the anatomy of a human body, and are experts in biomechanics. They are often referred to as sports scientists as their services are mostly capitalised in enhancing an athlete’s performance. Meet Shyamlal Vallabjee, a biomechanics expert trained in South Africa, who works with several top Olympians in the country, including tennis stars Saina Mirza and Rohan Bopanna. His clinic in Mumbai is also frequented by fitness enthusiasts who are battling the bulge, and by those who want to take the next big step in fitness. “My work is to analyse one’s lifestyle, understand how each of the body’s joints or systems work independently. As movement coaches, we need to understand and appreciate collaborative care. When you are put through training, you are open to micro trauma, and nursing the person becomes important. Once each joint or system has the capacity to function correctly, with functional training using combinations of joints and systems, then it becomes more likely that the movements are pure, not compensatory,” Vallabjee explains. His clinic conducts functional movement therapy that involves CrossFit, functional training, parkour and designs specific programs for those training for marathons, cycling events etc.
|My work is to analyse one’s lifestyle, understand how each of the body’s joints or systems work . As movement coaches, we need to understand and appreciate collaborative care — Shayamal Vallabjee|
Even as our daily routines get tech-savvy, fitness too is no exception. With Bengaluru-based entrepreneurs tapping into the market of GPS fitness-tracking apps and gadgets, and incorporate more ways to measure fitness, including biometric fitness bands, fitness is only more cutting edge today. Celebrity trainer Yasmin Karachiwala is a sucker for gadgets. She says, “I use the Jawbone and it is great to track your steps and sleep, and you can add your friends and compete with them, which makes it fun. I set a goal of 11,000 steps a day and make sure I complete it. Also, if I set a seven-hour sleep goal I work towards achieving it”
For Kumar Manavva, 37, who trains Telugu film star Mahesh Babu, technology has helped a great deal in the fitness world. “Technology has not just helped those working out but also trainers like us. It just makes planning and designing programs according to people’s body type a lot easier,” he says. He falls back on DEXA scans—mostly used by doctors to determine osteoporosis—to get accurate readings in body fat testing (specific to each body part) and bone density. “It is quite expensive and people who are very determined to get into shape don’t mind shelling out. This enables us to figure out the weaker muscles in the body and bring more focus on that,” he says.
|The Jawbone is great to track your steps and sleep and to compete with friends. I set a goal of 11,000 steps a day and make sure I complete it — Yasmin Karachiwala|
As deep as it gets
Kannan in Chennai puts his students through intense drills that involve various high intensity functional movements, sprints, sledgehammers, speed accelerators, and more. “It’s a 90-minute intense session and since it’s on sand, the degree of difficulty is higher,” he says.
Rajamani Prabhu, also based in Chennai, trains sports stars such as Joshna Chinappa, and other international cricketers and his new mantra is ESD or Energy Systems Development. It is the cardiovascular component where the intensity of the workouts is broken up into three different zones—a combination of lactate threshold, lactate power and aerobic system. “Instead of slow workouts, ESD will have your muscles, nervous system, and hormones acting together into efficient movement patterns that help your body work as efficiently as possible,” he says, adding these workouts can be performed on Airdyne machines or the elliptical trainer.
While the trend in fitness has a lot to do with functional training—lifting giant tyres, pulling a sledge sack, etc—those who have already aced this level are eager for more. “There is a lot of interest among fitness enthusiasts to pick up combat sports, and this includes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Ninjutsu, mixed martial arts, Krav Maga and Muay Thai,” says Abhinav Shankarnarayan, who trains Indian cricketer Manish Pandey. And these are not designed as one-hour classes with kicks and punches; rather the centres are working with Shidoshies (masters) who can train people in traditional combat sport. “It’s about releasing the energy you have stocked up from all the CrossFit and functional training. An athlete would essentially use it in enhancing his/her performance, but for an average Joe, he wants to test his fitness by putting himself through the rigours it involves, and it also works as self defence,” says Shankarnarayan, who runs The Hood, a multi-disciplined fitness centre in Bengaluru.
Path to recovery
Finally, these trainers swear by a good recovery session ahead of starting a fresh week’s intense training. Much like the cricketers follow a 1,000-point recovery program, Prabhu who runs R-Accerlate, suggests a point system that is a must-do. “This includes a 20-minute swim, a 30-minute massage, a 15-minute cold water immersion, a 15-minute stretch, 15 minutes on a spin bike, 15 minutes of foam roll session, wearing skins for 90 minutes, having a protein shake, eight hours of sleep, and fluid replacement. This readies your body for what’s coming next,” he concludes.
HIIT is here to stay, insists Kyle Arthur (42), a celebrity trainer who has worked with Bollywood star Arjun Kapoor and is currently training former Karnataka CM HD Kumarswamy’s son Nikhil Gowda. Arthur believes in the future of intelligent training, with more emphasis on repetitions. “My training method is more to do with body composition training. So my workouts include super sets and giant sets with a lot of HIIT.” He observes how elevation masks that mimic high-altitude conditions, as seen in the recent movie Creed, are going mainstream. “It makes the set harder with lesser oxygen. But being a better version of yourself is all about consistent training. Know how your body works and learn about your nutrition,” he says.
High altitude training
During off season, Formula 2 racer Karun Chandok used to travel home to Chennai, and do long distance cycling or head to Ooty to gain high altitude training. This helped his body cope with the heat and high body temperature while racing. Today, you have elevation masks that stimulate the same effect as altitude training and you can wear it while on a treadmill or cycle. “Studies state that low air pressure has a positive effect on how much oxygen can be made available for use by the body. Oxygen utilisation is the main aim as better oxygenation enhances endurance, stamina and physical and mental performance. This type of training also comes with high risks and must be done with qualified people,” says fitness expert Mickey Mehta who trains Bollywood actor Sunny Leone.
Battle ropes refer to a single heavy rope used as a strengthening and conditioning tool. They work the muscles in your abs, back and glutes, and training with them provides a form of higher intensity training without the impact on the joints, specifically in the lower body as in jumping or running.
· StreamFit is popular for metabolic resistant workouts (streamfit.com)
· DailyBurn has workouts that vary from 10 minutes to an hour (dailyburn.com)
· Susanne Bowen Fitness will make you feel like you have a personal trainer (suzannebowenfitness.com)
· BeFit, the YouTube channel, has celeb trainers Jillian Michaels, Billy Blanks Jr and Denise Austin powering your programmes (youtube.com/user/BeFit)
· EMG live are online classes and recordings of fitness classes from all over the world (emglivefitness.com)
Fitocracy: A social app that tracks workouts, shares your progress, and posts status with other fitness enthusiasts. There are also many resources and videos available for fitness enthusiasts such as swimmers, cyclists or weightlifters.
Available for free on Android and iOS.
Fitbit Charge HR: Use it to find out exactly how hard you are working instead of just counting steps. It allows far more accurate estimates of the number of calories you burn. You can also track your resting heart rate and see it drop as you get fitter. Rs 13,000 approx, on fitbit.com/in/chargehr
Jawbone UP3: Monitors a user’s bpm, respiration rate, body temperature and galvanic skin response. It can give you your REM, light and deep sleep stats. It also checks heart rate (resting and passive), steps, and sleep patterns.
Rs 12,300 approx on amazon.com
By Nandini Kumar