Celebrity fitness trainer, Rahul Bhatt, on the transformation of Aamir Khan for Dangal’s gritty wrestler.
Mumbai-based gym instructor and son of acclaimed filmmaker, Mahesh Bhatt, prefers using the phrase ‘professional body confidante’, to describe his profession. With over a decade in the fitness industry, this ‘Bandra boy’ may look like Kratos now, but that wasn’t always the case. “I struggled with obesity during my teenage years, I used to weigh 130 kgs. But, I chose a few improper/unhealthy fitness plans and lost 40 kgs in two months. This is when I decided to get my act together, educate myself and become a certified professional,” explains Rahul Bhatt, who now trains celebrities like Richa Chadda and Aamir Khan.
Fat to fit
Dramatic body transformation is Rahul’s forte. Having been there himself, the fitness expert claims he’s a great motivator as he fully comprehends the psychology of weight loss. “My favourite strength training workout is the deadlift, but the truth is, regardless of whether you’re 15 or 51, there’s no cookie-cutter approach to getting fit. Methods come and go but (individual differences aside) my four principles of fitness training are still: nutrition, (the slightly controversial) ergogenics, mental fortitude and training. It’s a truly rewarding experience helping people change their lives,” explains Rahul, who is inspired by visionary fitness trainer, Kaizzad Capadia, who runs The K 11 Fitness Academy.
The Dangal plan
Regarding all the intrigue surrounding Aamir Khan’s fitness regime, Rahul shares that the secret is there’s no secret. First, the 51-year-old actor gained mass to tip the scales at 98 kg to play the role of 45-year-old wrestling coach Mahaveer Singh Phogat in Dangal. Then, he sliced it to 78 kg to play a version of the wrestler in his late 20s (under the supervision of US-based nutritionist, Dr Nikhil Dhurandhar, by consuming between 1,800-2,500 calories of high-fibre Indian food and salmon). Rahul—who handled Khan’s ergogenic and weight training—explains that it’s all about hard work, discipline, mental toughness, delaying gratification, punctuality and surrendering to the trainer. “The man is the epitome of the adage ‘Genius is 99 per cent perspiration and one per cent inspiration’. There are days he woke up at 4 am to train,” shares the 33-year-old, elaborating, “The sessions were split into two: cardio (45-60 minutes) and weight training (80 minutes). All while using a combination of isolation and compound movements (think squats, military presses and bench presses to focus on his back and legs). He kept to the basics.”
Path to perfection
Though the Bigg Boss 4 participant claims he isn’t very tech-savvy, he recommends fitness gadgets like the FitBit as it effectively monitors movement, calories burned, sleep quality and the likes. Besides revealing that he’s working on a fitness-oriented book, the celebrity trainer also suggests that aspirants for washboard abs and a sculpted look must pick up Michael Matthews’ book, Bigger Leaner Stronger. “Without compromising a person’s well-being and safety, it is possible to go from a 45-inch waist to a Men’s Health cover model waist’, in about 1.5 years with rigorous training. There is no magic diet. Regardless of whether you choose the trending Ketogenic (low carb, high protein) or General Motor diet (low sugar, high carbs), the correct diet is what works for the individual,” concludes Rahul, who’s currently setting the groundwork for his own chain of health clubs.
Regardless of what your body type is—an ectomorph (lean, with difficulty building muscle), endomorph (pear-shaped, with a tendency to store body fat) or mesomorph (muscular, with high metabolism)—you can outsmart your genes with the right training. “In Bollywood, Aamir’s body type is a combination of endo-meso and Hrithik has an ectomorphic body. Stars like Salman and Tiger Shroff are blessed with a mesomorphic body,” shares Rahul, adding an ectomorph requires high caloric intake, an endomorph must do metabolism boosting training, while a mesomorph can do moderate weights and cardio.
Form follows function
“Fitness trends are a waste of time. What passes as functional training today is actually dysfunctional. Jumping on a bosu ball doesn’t push the body into the path of muscular energetics. Strongman training (lifting large tires and pushing logs uphill) is where it’s at,” shares Rahul. Some fitness formats:
*Weight-bearing endurance is best achieved by running (great for weight loss), whereas a good non-weight bearing endurance training is spinning. *Avoid machines while strength training. Stick to barbells and dumbbells. *For anaerobic endurance, kettlebells are the way to go.
— Anoop Menon