Fitness: Rekha's secrets, and how we spin

SUNDAY MID DAY 32nd Anniverary Special, Mumbai

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1983: Voluptuous Rekha goes on a diet to become slim

Rekha’s fit figure is a result of diet and exercise. File Photo 

Rekha, who until the 1980s is supposedly the epitome of voluptuousness, launches her book Rekha’s Mind and Body Temple. Her dietician Snehlata Pandey (actor Chunky Pandey’s mother) devices a special ‘Rekha Diet’, which helps her shed kilos and be the Indian Jane Fonda (whose exercise videos become a rage even in Indian households). This is when Indian women really start paying more attention to their figures.

1995: Laughter yoga club launches
The first Laughter Yoga Club is set up in 1995 by physician Dr Madan Kataria. The exercise routine, which combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing (Pranayama), begins with a handful of people at a park. There are now 72 clubs across the world that advocate the concepts of Laughter Yoga.

2004: Mumbai marathon takes off

Now held religiously on the third Sunday of January every year, the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon is first held in 2004. It is inspired by the London Marathon. The winner of the first edition, Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa takes two hours 15 minutes to complete the race. But it is Anil Ambani, running the half marathon for a cause, who steals the show that year.

2008: Spinning becomes new fad in the city
Indoor cycling, commonly known as spinning, becomes the new fitness trend soon after national cycling champion Baqar Naseer sets up the first dedicated spinning studio in the city. Mumbai’s fitness enthusiasts love the idea of burning calories while cycling with a large group to high octane music. Gyms across the metropolis begin to offer this specialised fitness regime.

2011: First cycling track
The 12-km cycling track at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) is inaugurated by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in April 2011 as part of the BSA Hercules India Cyclothon. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority spends over R6 crore to build the track in a bid to encourage corporates to cycle to work. Unfortunately, the track has few or no takers, because of bad maintainence and inconvenient location.  

Then & Now: ‘Personal training has picked up’
Deanne Pandey, fitness expert

So much has changed in the fitness industry. I entered the world of fitness quite by accident 17 years ago. Back then, gyms weren’t as big, there was barely any concept of fitness, Yoga was meant for older people, spinning and kickboxing were unheard of, as was the concept of personal trainers. In 2000, after my return from Australia when I first took on the beauty pageant circuit, weight training was looked at as something exclusively for men. Everyone believed that weight training made you bulky. But I introduced weights to the girls’ fitness regime, introduced scientific training and transformed their bodies.

Actresses were keen on getting on the bandwagon, and Lara Dutta and Preity Zinta became my first Bollywood clients. And by the first decade of the second millennium, the fitness fad had hit the middle class too. Personal training — something that was pioneered by my seniors Mickey Mehta and Leena Mogre — has picked up a lot over the years.

About five or six years ago, fitness in the city underwent a transformation for the worse. Desperate to lose weight or bulk up, people began resorting to fat burners and steroids. Women, who’d just given birth, began opting for fat burning pills to lose their pregnancy weight. On the other hand, a different set of people became addicted to working out at the gym. Their lifestyle revolves around the gym; it made them feel good.

Our approach to fitness needs to be a holistic one. Yoga, I believe, helps immensely. We need to start looking beyond marketing gimmicks. It’s not just about aesthetics, but about changing every cell in your body.

Sepia memory: Ayaz Memon
In the anniversary issue of Sunday Mid Day that I handled (in 1994, my first), one of the subjects we decided on was to play up the growing rivalry between Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara. I suggested we do a fictional account of a match in which Tendulkar is chasing Lara’s world record. While Lara had the world record, I didn’t see Tendulkar even a whit behind as batsman. If I remember correctly, in the fictional account, I have Tendulkar in hot pursuit of Lara’s 375, but getting run out going for the 376th. “It’s a matter of time before we see him getting to a triple hundred, and after that who knows,’’ I told my colleagues confidently.

Alas, it didn’t quite transpire that way in the 19 years since. Lara went on to break his own world record, scoring 400 in an innings, while Tendulkar has never scored a triple century in first-class cricket. However, he is the highest run-getter and century-maker in the history of the game. I’ll take that. PS: Come November, Tendulkar plays his 200th Test, and that against the West Indies. I haven’t given up on a triple hundred yet!

Ayaz Memon was editor of MiD DAY from 1993 to 2000 

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