How to get a fitter you

Starting this week, on every Sunday in January, we bring you an in-depth, easy-to-do guide to fulfilling your New Year resolutions. Next week's ready-reckoner: How to travel more in 2012
The first resolution you probably made while gulping down cookies and chugging beer in December was to lose weight in 2012. This time round, SMD helps you actually make it happen. Read on to find everything from the latest fitness routines to the best new foods, complete with a cut-and-keep guide to getting hotter. Short of hiring a personal trainer, it's the best way to look and feel your best this year, says

Dance the flab away
When Anchal Gupta set up Arts in Motion Dance Studios five years ago her goal was to create a space where dance buffs could learn and practice whatever form they liked. Realising then that there really was no real dance space in the city, she set up the organisation where dance is now taught, both, just for the sheer joy of it and also, for its benefits.

Zumba is one popular dance/exercise form that has really caught on here (Rs 2,500 for 12 sessions), and Gupta shares, "When 40 and 50 year-old aunties would come up to me and say 'Beta dance sikhna hai par yeh aapka Jazz-vazz hamse nahin hoga' (we'd like to learn dancing but your Jazz steps aren't our cup of tea), I realised that we needed to include dance-varieties that would work for all age groups and personality types."

Zumba is an exercise dance class that combines assorted Latin-American dances and provides an aerobic workout that's just great fun with its saucy moves and high-energy music. Belly dancing and Bollybics - Arts in Motion's trademark Bollywood-dance-exercise class (Rs 2,600 for 12 session) are also incredibly popular. While Gupta is confident that Bollywood dancing's never going to go out of fashion, with Zumba being offered in 1,10,000 gyms across 250 countries. Even the American College of Sports Medicine has hailed this as a hot trend for 2012 after recording the views of 2,620 fitness professionals worldwide.
Arts in Motion Dance Studios, Sion; call 9820183231

Run your way to health
Dheepesh Bhatt started CrossFit training sessions about two years ago and while he continues to conduct sessions within the four walls of his studio, he says, "We also conduct training sessions at Juhu beach, Bandstand and, soon, we'll also be offering CrossFit training at Mahalakshmi Racecourse."

Jordyn Steig puts a client through a functional training workout on a
terrace. P
ic/ Prathik Panchamia

Summarising the regime, Bhatt says, "It's about knowing how to run. There's a proper technique but no one really teaches the right technique for running as it's considered so natural. Then, when people have knee and ankle problems, they blame their shoes or the roads. If you have the right technique your shoes won't matter and you can run just about anywhere." To explain, he says, "If you go to a gym and do bench presses without knowing how to, you're going to hurt yourself, right? Running's no different."

"It's strength and conditioning training so it combines exercises from three different areas - gymnastics (push ups, pull ups, etc), weight lifting (squats and the like), and track and field (running, rolling and skipping)." If you think that sounds tough you'd be surprised to know that Bhatt's youngest client is just three years-old.

"My oldest client is 60," he adds, as he emphasises that the trend is definitely catching on. "I have people coming from Delhi and Bengaluru to train at my gym," he claims, admitting that the popularity of the marathon, and the city's newfound passion for adventure sports is probably why as many as 800 students have signed up to improve their balance, power and speed.
Dheepesh Bhatt; call 9820028098

Go outdoors
Personal Trainer and Healthy Lifestyle Counsellor Jordyn Steig loves to take his clients outdoors for a hardcore workout but, "It can be a little intimidating sometimes," he admits. Understandable, considering his workout often involves coordinated movements and that park equipment like benches may, impromptu, be used as gym equipment. "I focus on functional fitness," says Steig, telling us that the programmes he works out for clients are devised with a view to, "isolating certain muscles, focusing on them and then on establishing a reconnection with other muscles."

"Gym training's getting a little passe and people go to the gym more to socialise than to get healthy," Steig believes. He adds, "While music in gyms is much too loud and there are too many toxic chemicals in the air, outdoor training poses its own share of problems too. In places like Joggers' Park, for instance, you're not technically allowed to coach people and our roads are so polluted and in such bad shape."

Telling us that he generally works on developing balance, coordinate body fitness and core strength, and plans to introduce TRX Suspension Training soon, "in which ropes and handles are used to let you work against gravity and your own weight," Steig emphasises, "The idea is to ensure that my clients don't get bored. Monotony is why so many people go off the gym so quickly, so I try to gauge their interests - some people enjoy conversation, others prefer quietude, some like yoga, others don't - and ultimately, I try to create a programme that works for each client depending on these, whether that involves outdoor exercises, indoor exercises or both."
Jordyn Steig; call 9987018579

Try les mills
Farah Vohra, who learnt about Les Mills (the group fitness regime that was designed by the New Zealand athlete Leslie Mills) in Australia six years ago, tells us that she got obsessed with it immediately. "There are eight different programmes and I've been certified in four of them." Programmes offered at F2 Fitness, the company she runs with celebrity-trainer Neville Almeida that offers classes in Bandra, include "Body Attack, Body Pump, Body Jam, Body Combat and Body Balance."

A body pump class in progress at F2 Fitness. Pic/ Shadab Khan

High-energy music and choreography are key elements of these routines that were designed to make exercising fun. "But it's not like aerobics or a dance class where everyone faces the mirror," she points out. "Here, the trainer works out simultaneously and keeps an eye on each attendant so you're constantly monitored and corrected."

Every scientifically-devised Les Mills programme serves a specific purpose - some are meant to get you to lose weight, others are intended to help you tone but in each case, "there's a lot of core involvement."
Vorah explains, "Body Combat is a mixed martial arts programme that blends Karate, Taekwondo, Muai Thai and Kick-Boxing. Body Jam is dancing from the fitness point of view - not learning dance steps - and then there's Body Attack which is a combination of athletic moves. It's high energy interval training which builds strength and boosts balance."

Though some programmes like Body Pump, for instance, which involves using weights, are ideally left for those over the age of 16, Farah says the other programmes are open to everyone and, "We have high impact and low impact options for each so depending on your fitness levels, you can find a programme that suits you best."
Call: 9223434343, log on to Yoga Sutra at Chinoy mansion, Breach Candy also offers Body Balance Les Mills classes, call: 32107067.

Get a personal trainer
Rajesh Desai, founder, ProFit Functional Fitness Centre, Kandivli, explains that as city life gets increasingly sedentary and stressful, personal trainers are gaining popularity. "Basic trainers charge about Rs 3,000, but a master trainer, who is typically employed by people who are very charged up about fitness and health, may charge about Rs 15,000 for 12 customised sessions," says Desai, at whose centre you may sign up for numerous workout regimes or simply get a membership to use the gym (Rs 1,000 a month).

Personal trainers put clients through the paces at Minar Gym at Juhu
Tara Road pic/ Rane Ashish.

He adds, "People who are really busy with work often neglect physical fitness. You're likely to skip workouts after a tough day at work. Personal trainers are important because they do more than work out a routine that's ideal for you, given your fitness levels and specifications. They'll call and text you to ensure that you don't get lazy about attending your workout sessions and that you stick to the program. They gradually step up programs as your fitness level improves and, even while you're working out, they ensure you stay motivated and really push yourself to the max."
ProFit Functional Fitness Centre, Kandivili, call: 28667411, 65225555, 65226666

Food is good
We'll be eating healthier this year, experts around the world believe. Quality and purity are going to be keywords whether you're dining at restaurants or just concerned about what the kitchen at your home turns out. Organic food is still seen as expensive, so it may take a while to catch on, but there is now an obvious understanding of the difference in purely grown produce and the hormone-pumped stuff that one usually gets at a bargain.

It won't be long till people do the math and see that it's probably cheaper to shell out those extra bucks on veggies than to have to pay giant hospital bills later. Like Manisha Tenkar, proprietor, Organic Garden explains, "Typically, bottle gourd would take two to three months to grow on a tree naturally. After Baba Ramdev started encouraged its consumption, the demand has increased. Consequently, many vendors are resorting to injecting Oxytocin into the bottle gourd flower, as this yields a vegetable in just three days. People don't realise that by consuming this, they're inadvertently ingesting a hormone that's likely to impact their physiology." 

Concepts like Kavita Mukhi's farmer's market which eliminates middlemen and ensures you get your freshly-grown produce and Hari Bhari Tokri, a Mumbai Organic Farmers and Consumers Association initiative, whereby you can get your weekly supply of veggies directly from organic farms, have caught on very well and very quickly. Un-processed, natural foods will continue to be in great demand in 2012.
> Organic Garden
(Call: 9664025555 or 18002665555)
> Kavita Mukhi's farmer's market (log onto for schedule and details)
> Hari Bhari Tokri, a Mumbai Organic Farmers and Consumers Association (

Age no bar
According to a Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends published by the American College of Sports Medicine, while Pilates has lost its sheen, strength-training and fitness programmes for older adults are the top trends for 2012.
Experts tell us it's basically the same juice in a different package, because the focus in Pilates is precisely on building flexibility and strength. In fact, the method devised by German Joseph Pilates is ideal for older adults as it focuses on aligning the pelvic and spine and strengthening the muscles of the legs, abdomen, arms, hips, and back with a view to improving coordination and balance.

Power yoga teacher and personal trainer, Rajesh Sharma who charges SoBo clients Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 for 12 sessions (at Navi Mumbai, his charges are Rs 7,000 onwards) combines a bunch of techniques to create personalised programmes to boost core-strength. "Older adults often suffer falls and injuries because they haven't developed their core-strength, balance and coordination," says Sharma, Madhuri Ruia's Integym, Colaba; call 22024323, 9820224323. Body Art Gym, Hughe's Road; call 23802602, 23805929. Rajesh Sharma; call 9322865275

Get your kids fighting fit
Side kick, roundhouse kick, punch, punch and she slides forward. Her opponent's taller so it's a challenge. But the six year-old thinks on her feet. Two quick punches follow consecutive blocks. The teacher steps in and the fighting stops. The mothers smile at each other.

It's much more than just a fun way to use up that excess energy though. "Taekwondo makes people alert as one has to be focused in order to block attacks," says Mahendra Mohan, who has been teaching the Korean martial art form for 28 years. Mohan, who runs MJ Academy of Martial Arts and conducts classes for adults as well as children in Mahalakshmi and Chowpatty explains, "It also boosts concentration and while the routines ensure a complete workout for the body, Taekwondo instills self-confidence too and teaches the kids about respect and self-control." 

That Mohan's youngest student's aged four and his oldest is in his '60s doesn't surprise Rajesh Desai, founder and director of the 15 year-old ProFit Functional Fitness Centre (Kandivli). Telling us that childhood obesity is a major concern, Desai says, "With kids now spending more time on the computer than on the sports field, health-conscious parents are signing their kids up for fitness classes at age six or even younger." Desai's gym therefore offers dance-classes to kids so they can get fit and have fun at the same time.

Riddhi Punjani, on the other hand, has been running Stepz, Bollywood dance and Contemporary dance classes (Rs 2,520 for 12 sessions) for kids aged two years onwards at Chowpatty for the last three years, and she too confirms that her classes are just growing more popular by the day. "More than fitness, these classes are intended to boost dexterity and focus," she says however, "Kids develop an awareness of their bodies and shy kids benefit from the social interaction too - they tend to come out of their shells very quickly."
MJ Academy of Martial Arts; call 9820174641, 9869267888

Cut-n-keep guide

Older adults who have problems balancing, blood-pressure or neck problems, may use a ballast ball - a weighted stability ball - to do these. Lean back on the ball so that your hips, lower back and upper back are on the ball. Inhale. Place your fingers at the edge of your head. Lift your torso while exhaling, so your rib cage moves towards your pelvis. Do this eight to 12 times and increase reps over time.

Lie on your stomach, bringing your forearms together under your chest. Clasp your hands together and lift so that your body weight rests on your forearms and toes. Do not lift your hips too high - keep them below shoulder level.

Your chest should be directly over your arms. Hold your tummy in. Remember to breathe normally. Hold for five seconds at first, increase to 10 over time and eventually up to 60 seconds.

This is to strengthen the upper body and abdominal muscles. If you feel this puts too much pressure on your wrists and shoulders, your personal trainers should be able to offer variations. illustrations/ satish acharya

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