Bani Judge: Did things that were tough for the boys
A decade into the industry, Bani Judge speaks on being a fitness influencer
Her journey to bagging the second spot in a stunt-based reality show in 2007 made evident that Bani Judge was always a rebel. It's no wonder then that even when chasing her passion for fitness, the video-jockey paid little heed to the 'standards' set for women. With an Instagram feed that reveals her toil in the gym, Bani flaunts the kind of strength (and body) that's only desirable. In a chat with mid-day, she says how she emerged a fitness influencer.
On achieving goals
'People ask me if the secret is 50% training, and 50% diet. I say, it's 100% training, and 100% diet'
Confessing to seeing “food as fuel” instead of an enemy, Bani says, “When you label something as 'bad food', you're programming yourself to view it negatively.” Highlighting that foods that carry an 'ingredients' tag rarely make it on her plate, she says, “I consume whole ingredients, which refer to items that have nothing added to them. Eggs, sweet potatoes and rice are whole foods. Bread, on the other hand, has added elements.” Not one to abide by fads like the low-carb diet, she says, “I have more than 370gms of carbohydrates a day. My body blossoms with white rice. I am against the idea of removing a food group from my diet.”
On setting goals
'If I couldn't do more than one pull up, I'd wonder what was wrong with me'
When her 15-hour shifts, while working at MTV, made her realise “something was missing” from her routine, Bani knew exactly where she had to go. “The gym has always been a constant in my life. I started training at 19. I stepped into the gym to build a [strong] body. I wanted to adopt this lifestyle.” With no one to turn to for assistance, she approached the men whose physiques she liked, asking if she could train with them. “When I struggled to pick up a 20 kg bar initially, I told myself, 'Are you stupid?' So, a lot of my coaching happened like that. I did [exercises] that were tough for the boys. I didn't want to be 'strong for a girl'. I just wanted to be strong.”
'When in her late 20s, my mother would hit the gym in Punjab and try body building. The gyms, like they are today, were male-dominated'
Bani didn't have to look too far to find inspiration to train. “My mother, a single woman living in the small town of Chandigarh, used to train religiously. I was six years old, and she was in her late 20s. She would try body-building. I remember sitting on a gym bench with my sister, sipping on [aerated drinks], and watching her work out in a facility that was — like it is today — dominated by the boys. I'd see her eat healthy because she was battling cancer since I was three. She'd pack brown bread sandwiches, and eat her eggs [regularly]. I've grown up noticing that.” For the host, her daily one-kilometre trek to reach her boarding school building was also an impetus to take to fitness. “My sister and I would enjoy making the journey to school early in the morning. We liked the athletic lifestyle we lived, then going on to take part in cross-country relays. That built my foundation in fitness.”
Raising the bar
'When I met [fitness professionals], I got the nutrition part of the puzzle in place'
From binge-reading fitness magazines on Sundays, Bani says she could later afford to educate herself better as she grew to fame. “As soon as I made money, I went to places and met people [to learn from them]. I also invested better in my food. Initially, I'd watch what people ate after their workout, and do the same. If they would eat peanut butter or bananas, I'd do the same. But when I met [informed] people, I got the nutrition part of the puzzle in place, and began to see the difference [in my body].” As for her fitness, she admits to being “sore, every day”. “I practice hand-stands and balancing. It's a different kind of strength that one develops.”
Bani incorporates a 20-minute run into her regimen. Hand-stand practice makes for a vital part of her routine. She says she avoids bracketing her days by training a specific muscle group, but trains the lower body muscles every two to three days. Her routine, she says, varies between 90 minutes to over two hours.
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