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The new Ato Z of fitness

The new Ato Z of fitness
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First Published: Fri, Aug 21 2009. 08 40 PM IST

Updated: Fri, Aug 21 2009. 08 40 PM IST
Altitude Training System
Jogging or cycling in a specially constructed chamber, or with a face mask, which simulates high-altitude pressures, might not be your idea of a perfect
workout. But any way of working less and burning more can’t be too bad. The ATS basically simulates training at high altitudes with a reduced amount of oxygen, thus increasing the rate at which calories are burnt. You can work out on an elliptical trainer, a treadmill and a VibroGym in a controlled chamber at Qi Lifecare (022-66390011), Churchgate, Mumbai, or on a stationary bike, elliptical or cross-trainer with a mask strapped on, at two gyms in Mumbai. “The ATS can simulate 1,000-12,000ft above sea level, so gentle cycling is equal to jogging at sea level,” says fitness consultant Yasmin Karachiwala. ATS is offered at her studio Body Image (09930920011) and Zarine Watson’s Pinnacle Fitness (022-65848422), both in Bandra.
Bridal Bootcamp
Bootcamps, as the name suggests, are intensive classes that involve working
out based on military training. Back-to-the-basics exercise such as push-ups, lunges, sprinting and squats are part of a bootcamp, with very little rest between exercises. Leena Mogre, director, Fitness has gone a step ahead and tailored a bootcamp for brides-to-be, though others are welcome too. “The three-month regime requires that you have basic fitness levels, as it can be a tough class,” says Mogre. Priced at Rs8,300 for three months at Mogre’s gyms in Bandra, Thane, Nerul and Vashi in Mumbai; phone 022-26481795.
The Cliff was born when a group of six climbing enthusiasts realized that no
Indian manufacturer was making equipment dedicated to the needs of climbers. This wall eliminates your need to go outdoors for a climb; there’s no need for ropes or harnesses, no risk of acrophobia, and it’s child-friendly as well. The surface rolls endlessly, you can customize the speed, from 10-50ft per minute, and can change the angle of the tilt, anywhere from an acute to an obtuse. The wall is currently available for public trial at 150, Government Industrial Estate in Kandivali, Mumbai (022-28689059), and at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand (01374-224663).
Domestic Training
Eating healthy is everybody’s priority today, but can the maids and cooks who
prepare our meals cook healthy? To ensure they do, Shonaalii Sabherwal, a macrobiotic diet counsellor, holds training classes for domestic staff at Juhu, Mumbai. In the basic course, cooks are introduced to exotic vegetables such as pak choi and zucchini and learn about not-so-common grains such as barley, nachni (ragi or finger millet) and brown rice. The sessions include lessons in making a variety of soups, cooked and raw salads, different styles of beans and ways to cook whole grains, vegetable and fish dishes. Sabherwal, who is consulted by actor Katrina Kaif and provides her daily meals, says she instructs the staff on healthier cooking methods, such as steaming and controlling the quantities of oil and spice. Five sessions of 2 hours each cost Rs5,000. Contact 09819035604.
Cruise down the California coast or bike through the Peruvian mountains on this
interactive bike from Expresso Fitness. As you pedal, the interactive screen shows you racing against virtual cyclists, and motivates you to try harder to catch up with, or overtake, them. The pedal resistance changes with the terrain, so it’s quite realistic. “It’s very high on results, even with people who were earlier struggling to do cardio,” says Zarine Watson, fitness consultant and owner of Pinnacle Fitness studio in Bandra, Mumbai (see A).
Functional Fitness
Abs on Day 1, pecs on Day 2 and arms on Day 3 is yesterday’s workout
schedule. Functional fitness, an exercise regime that makes everyday tasks such as lifting, bending and pushing a breeze, has found fans in actors Shahid Kapur and Purab Kohli. It mimics primal patterns that have evolved with mankind—such as jumping, leaping and bending—in an exaggerated manner, and instead of targeting muscles in isolation, it trains them to do tasks together. “It’s exercise for regular people, not body builders,” says Madhuri Ruia, the fitness expert at Half The Functional Health Studio (022-22024323) in Colaba, Mumbai. Also at Gold’s Gym in metros.
Rafael Nadal and Leander Paes use it, so do some of the world’s leading golfers,
baseball players and musicians. Powerball, a tennis ball-sized spinning rotor or gyroscope encased in a solid outer sphere, is now available in India. The inertia it generates creates resistance and helps strengthen and tone fingers, wrists, arms, triceps, biceps and shoulders. There are nine varieties for specific needs, priced from Rs2,150 to Rs12,600.
Another handy device is the HydraCoach (Rs3,000), a neat way to keep track of your daily fluid intake. This water bottle has a built-in meter to calculate how much water or fluid is required for a particular body weight, the amount consumed through the day and the average per hour. Available at www.powerballs.co.in and www.hydracoach.co.in, as well as select sports equipment stores in metros.
Hypoxi Therapy
It is a treatment developed in Austria and aims at targeted body shaping. “The
reason why weight loss is tough especially around hips, thighs and the lower abdomen, is because the body only burns fatty deposits it has access to. Layers of cellulite usually have little or no blood supply, making it difficult for the body to access them. This is why, no matter how much you exercise or diet, some fat is difficult to shed. The idea behind Hypoxi therapy is to facilitate blood supply to all parts of the body and help burning fatty deposits,” explains Vesna Pericevic Jacob, owner of Vesna’s Wellness Clinic, New Delhi. The therapy uses an easy cardio training programme. “You are placed in a chamber which uses advanced vacuum technology and your heart rate is constantly monitored while you do light exercises like cycling or walking. We have four machines at the clinic that are used as part of the treatment, including one that helps flush out toxins. Also, people who sign up for Hypoxi therapy have to follow a nutrition plan specifically designed for each individual,” explains Jacob. The nutrition plan is based on blood group diets and individual medical condition. Hypoxi therapy is available at Vesna’s Wellness Clinic, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi. Each session costs Rs3,500 and a minimum of 12 sessions are recommended. Call 011-46120383 for details.
Indian Army Workout
The Indian Military Academy, which trains officers for the Indian Army, has given out some exercises from its fitness programme to Men’s Health magazine, which has simplified the programme for civilians. It comprises squats and dead lifts while holding sandbags or dumb-bells, squat to push presses, planks, side bridges, hanging leg raises, and Supermans. Do it thrice a week, with a day of rest between each session. For the full regime visit www.menshealthindia.in
Developed by Reebok in association with entertainment company Cirque du
Soleil, this is an innovative workout targeted primarily at women. “Research conducted by Reebok internationally indicated that women tend to view the treadmill as the dreadmill and wanted fun ways to work out,” says Vinata Shetty, Mumbai-based Reebok master trainer. Jukari Fit to Fly uses a FlySet, which looks like a trapeze and consists of a three-stranded rope fixed to the ceiling with a 360-degree swivel point and a steel bar, placed through the two loops. “For the most part, your feet remain on the ground and you will be airborne only for short periods. You will not be suspended from the ceiling throughout the duration (of the) workout.” Jukari aims to strengthen the upper body and has cardiovascular benefits. Coming soon to Fitness First studios across India.
A seaweed commonly used in Japanese preparations such as dashi, kombu can be incorporated into Indian dal-based dishes to give various
health benefits, feels Shonaalii Sabherwal (see D). “It adds plenty of trace minerals, benefits the kidneys, acts as a fungicide and helps control hormones and high blood pressure and is said to be anti-carcinogenic,” says Sabherwal. A stamp-sized portion of kombu can be added to your daily dal—it helps tenderize the lentils and makes the oil and proteins easier to digest. Available at high-end grocers and food stores such as Nature’s Basket in Mumbai.
155gm. That’s what Nike’s latest shoe, the LunaRacer, weighs. Made of
Lunarlite foam, the brand’s most advanced new cushioning system, this lightweight and supportive shoe is especially beneficial for marathon runners. Available at Nike stores for Rs8,500.
The training regime for a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter wouldn’t be out of place
on a superhero’s work desk. There’s cardio, resistance training with ju-jitsu and grappling, strength training with quick sprints, weight training and cardiovascular conditioning. And that’s just in a week.
“We do a lot of cross-training, a combination of fitness programmes that focus on overall speed, flexibility and strength,” says Prashant Kumar, the founder-director of Full Contact Entertainment, which organizes MMA events in India and runs the Full Contact Gym in Mahim, Mumbai. “Our fighters train between 4-6 hours a day, five days a week.”
MMA is a pastiche of a number of martial art traditions, from kickboxing and judo to karate and freestyle. But not everyone would want to don a mask and an alias and take to the ring for the world championship, and Kumar agrees. “Anyone can do MMA. For beginners, our trainers gauge your fitness levels and get you started with an overall training programme.” For the serious, there’s the promise of epic bouts, cheering crowds and your own entrance music.
No Favourites
Cheating on your preferred workout method or sport is actually a very good way
to exercise, say most trainers. “The marriage of different exercise forms is where the fitness industry is going,” says Watson (see A). Cross-training by alternating between yoga, pilates, martial arts and strength training, often in one class, gives the various benefits of all these forms, avoids fitness plateaus and keeps things interesting.
Office Workouts
“I have no time to exercise because I work,” is the most common excuse people
have for not exercising, says Simmi Sakhuja, personal trainer to film producer Gauri Khan and actor Sonali Bendre. On her fitness- related radio show, Jo Fit Hai Woh Hit Hai, which airs daily at 6am on Big 92.7 FM, Sakhuja answers calls from working people—office-going executives to milkmen and autorickshaw drivers—and advises them on exercises to do at work. Sakhuja says it is possible to work out your whole body while seated. Here are two exercises for each body part. Repeat each of these 15 times.
u Neck: 1) Turn your neck from left to right. 2) Move your chin up and down, as far as it will go.
u Shoulders: 1) Raise your right and left shoulders alternatively. 2) Raise both together till your ears and bring them down.
u Back: 1) Put both hands on shoulders with elbows parallel to the ground, and feet on the ground. With your butt firm on the seat, twist to the left and right, moving your chin in the same direction as well. 2) Put your hands on your pelvis, stick your chest out and arch your back. Bend from the waist till you are parallel to the floor.
u Legs: 1) Raise one leg at a time, till it is parallel to the ground. 2) Rotate your ankle clockwise and counter-clockwise.
Whole grain breakfast cereals, known primarily for their high fibre content, and
snack foods such as popcorn can now rise on the good food popularity chart—they contain surprisingly large amounts of healthful antioxidant substances called polyphenols, new research shows. Polyphenols are why fruits and vegetables—and foods such as wine, tea, coffee and chocolate—are seen as reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease and other disorders.
Researchers who conducted the first study to measure the total phenol antioxidants in breakfast cereals and snacks reported at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society earlier this month that whole grain products have comparable antioxidants per gram to fruits and vegetables. The whole grain cereals with the most antioxidants are made with wheat, corn, oats and rice, in descending order. Among snacks such as pasta, crackers and salty munchies, popcorn tops the list.
Shilpa Shetty’s favourite new muscles to work out are the quadriceps. The
actor’s trainer Sherin Poojari says Shetty had thin legs, but started seeing results after he put her on a concentrated training regime. “Now it’s her best body part,” he says. Poojari makes Shetty do leg workouts twice a week, starting with leg presses, of which she does three sets, beginning with 15 repetitions. Then she increases the weight and decreases the number of reps with each consecutive set. The weights are never more than 25kg. For lunges, which work the glutes as well as the quads, he makes her take long strides, because she’s tall. For leg extensions, the weights are not too heavy, but with 15-20 reps. His tips to get legs like Shetty’s: “Quads are the biggest muscle group in the body and you lose the most calories when you work them,” he says. And when he says 15 reps, he means 15. Don’t be afraid to go heavy on the weights, so “your legs should not be able to move after that. There should be no chance of doing a 16th rep.” It’s very easy to injure leg muscles, so he advises keeping a strict eye on exercising with the correct form.
The trampoline’s exercise benefits are many, and one of them includes
increased circulation of the lymphatic system. It is especially beneficial for cancer sufferers (whose lymphatic fluid is overloaded with cancer cells) as rebounding increases lymph circulation as much as 30 times. Ruia (see F) says even sitting on a trampoline with someone jumping behind you helps circulation.
Two of the past few years’ biggest fitness crazes have been combined for a
bigger, better workout. Spin cycling involves cycling at high speeds on a stationary bike, while pilates uses controlled, precise movements to strengthen core abdominal and back muscles. In a Spinlates class, about 45 minutes of cardio exercise by spinning is followed by pilates. Coming soon to select gyms offering spinning in Mumbai.
The Art of Movement
The Art of Movement or Parkour, as it is called in French, is similar to freestyle
running to get from one point to another in the fastest possible time, by jumping, leaping and climbing over obstacles. Remember Daniel Craig’s chase scene at the beginning of Casino Royale? It’s also been featured in Madonna’s music videos, TV shows such as Heroes and most lately in Akshay Kumar’s Thums Up ad. Prameet Kotak, who will soon offer lessons in the city, is currently training actor Kunal Kapoor in Parkour for his upcoming superhero film Doga, directed by Anurag Kashyap. “Parkour uses athletics, climbing, gymnastics and martial arts techniques to better performance,” says Kotak.
Inspired by the Jamaican sprinter, who set the new 100m world record at the
World Championships in Berlin this month? Give his diet a shot. In an interview with FHM magazine, Bolt says each of his six meals consists of 60% protein, 30% carbs and 10% fats. His breakfast consists of Jamaican dumplings (flour, water, butter and milk) and yams, which are high in carbs, fibre and vitamins C and A. Lunch is brown rice, wholemeal bread and protein in the form of tuna or snapper. Brown rice and chicken, pork or beef make up his dinner. Bolt sometimes tends to cheat with junk food, and says his favourite drink is Guinness with Red Bull.
Video games and exercise may seem mutually exclusive, but try telling that to EA Sports Active, a new fitness video game for the Nintendo Wii.
As a game, it’s the best fitness regimen outside of a gym subscription, and with its host of customization possibilities, it’s perfect for those with an active lifestyle.
Here’s how it works. You create your in-game profile (inputting weight, height and age), choose from a male or female trainer, and choose from a variety of daily workouts or weekly programs that range from light and easy to heavy and tiring. The game tracks calories burnt, asks about the meals you ate, and takes surveys on activities you may have performed outside of the game. Medals and awards are dispensed for good and diligent performances. It’s a wonderful game-like approach to fitness, one that dangles a sugar trail of rewards to encourage you to continue.
EA Sports Active is the video game that answers all the fitness- and activity-oriented concerns that usually plague gamers. It’s a title that takes a medium considered the preserve of the indoor and out-of-shape, and shows that an active, healthier lifestyle is possible even through the virtual disconnect of a video-game controller. It’s easy to approach, and accessible to everyone. Watch out, however, for slightly flimsy peripherals, and minor calibration issues. And don’t expect the virtual trainers to go easy on you. Priced at Rs2,999.
Wobble Board Worouts
A wobble board is a piece of training equipment used to develop physical
balance. “While on the board, you feel like you are wind surfing or waterskiing. The board is a flat disc and usually features a non-slippery cover. Under it is a hemisphere or small disc in the centre that allows the board 360 degrees of movement,” says Vinata Shetty (see J). The most common exercise on the wobble board is to move from front to back without the sides touching the ground, or move from side to side without the front and back touching the ground. “This is a core muscles and strength building programme and great for building balance, especially for sportspersons.” Shetty says it is not available in India but you can order the equipment from IndoFLO (www.indoboard.com).
XBOX 360
Microsoft’s Project Natal, for the Xbox 360, is part of a plan to get gamers
off their sofas and into their games. Using a camera, and powered by technology that borders on science fiction, it’s the beginning of games that feel more like workouts. Dance lessons, aerobics, even regular action games could leave you with sore forearms. Scheduled to be out in 2010 (www.xbox.com).
Trance Dance Yoga is yoga teacher Deepika Mehta’s latest offering. One of the
first instructors to teach power yoga in India, Mehta also instructs a weekly Trance Dance class. The studio’s ambience, with candles, incense, statues of Indian deities, fairy lights and marigolds, gets you in the mood, and the practice starts out slow with meditation and fluid yoga moves. The tempo builds up gradually and it soon evolves into a dance form, with trance and tribal music. “The atmosphere is celebratory and people leave the class uplifted on Friday night, not tired and drained,” says Mehta. At Bandra and starting soon at Altamount Road, Mumbai. Contact 09930194729.
Another new form of yoga, billboards of which have already begun to appear in Mumbai, is cryptically named Sufi Yoga. When we met Junaid Shaikh, the yoga practitioner who devised the eclectic form, we couldn’t get a first-hand experience because, as Shaikh said, Sufi Yoga is a “mind-body-soul experience that works best as a two- to three-day workshop in a group of about 10 people”. He breaks up the two days into rigorous sessions of classic Hatha yoga asanas, which stretch muscles in the body, increase flexibility, improve blood circulation and release pent-up energy. These physically gruelling sessions are punctuated by soothing Sufi practices—spontaneous body movements to Sufi music, chants and meditation, which aim to channelize energy and breath awareness to achieve a holistic sense of euphoria. For details of forthcoming workshops, visit www.sufiyoga.com
Zany Dance Forms
B-Boying or breaking is an energetic style of American street dancing which has
made a recent entry into India. The B-Boying classes at Arts in Motion dance studio, Sion, Mumbai, generally have hip hop-loving teenagers, as “40-year-olds can’t stand on their heads”, according to founder-director Aanchal Gupta. Along with the dancing skills come body control and strength and stamina-building. Krumping, another freestyle street dance from the hip hop family, is gaining followers. Among them is actor Shahid Kapur, who will be seen krumping in Yahoo, an upcoming film directed by Ken Ghosh.
“Krumping is a great way for teenagers and young people to vent aggression and release energy,” says Gupta. It serves as a high-energy workout, involving whooping, shouting and clapping, and normally burns 500-600 calories an hour. Contact Arts in Motion (09820183231).
Seema Chowdhry, Krish Raghav, Seema Singh and Sanjukta Sharma contributed to this story.
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First Published: Fri, Aug 21 2009. 08 40 PM IST