Everyone wants a svelte body, washboard abs, thin waist, perfect jawline, hourglass figure and firm booty. But is achieving the desired physique all that easy? The answer is no! Should one get on the bandwagon and strive for a ‘perfect’ body at all costs? Not quite. The truth is fitness is never a ‘one glove fits all,’ phenomenon and works differently for each individual. Chirag Barjatya, a young fitness entrepreneur, who has been busting myths around fitness and through his social media posts, emphasises that fitness is beyond a lean body, biceps and abs. He stresses the need for a holistic approach when it comes to fitness — physical and mental. Chirag, one of India’s brand ambassadors for PM Modi’s Fit India Movement, wants people to promote sustainable and ethical means of fitness.
How has the pandemic changed the way we look at fitness (physical and mental)?
The pandemic has brought about many changes in the lives of the people. And many of them are still trying to find a balance between living continuously at home and working from home. The government has also been urging everyone to engage in some sort of physical activity which will help people to build their immunity. Also, the continuous workload due to work from home and long sitting hours has made people inactive. People have realized the importance of breaking out for workouts between intervals. It helps people physically and mentally as well, as it offers a good distraction from the negative news all around besides this new kind of workload which we were not used to before the pandemic struck.
Check out Chirag’s tweet:
Start using the calendar on ur phone if u really want to manage the work stress. On working days even ur lunch shd… https://t.co/moiF4bGKPa
— Chirag Barjatya (@chiragbarjatyaa) 1628683415000
Has social media challenges and chiselled body photos amplifying during the lockdown has put undue pressure on people to break a sweat?
During the initial phase of the lockdown, this was the case. Even I took part in a few social media challenges which resulted in an injury. And such incidents occurred with many people over the internet. Later, with time people began to realize that these challenges do more harm than good and one should check his or her physical abilities first before taking part just for the ‘likes’. And yes, I won’t be lying, some people did join my coaching under the pressure of using this lockdown as an opportunity. Few of them performed well but few of them realised that they have other bigger things to look after, and hence, we refunded them. I do not support transformation challenges, because I feel that staying fit now and forever cannot happen in a course of a few months. It is a journey.
Home workouts have proved to be a great change in the pandemic. What should one do and what one shouldn’t while working out, following an online tutorial?
Home workouts became the only option for people to stay in shape during the lockdown. Due to the sudden demand and shortage of dumbbells and other exercise equipment in the market, people had to rely on bodyweight workouts. Now, everyone cannot enroll with an online coach for proper guidance and hence they are taking the help of various YouTube channels. But the problem here is, people tend to go overboard with exercises that are not under their capabilities. I would advise everyone to first define their goal and then start doing it slowly, and try not to perform things like headstand or clap pushups or jump squats, etc until and unless you are very sure about it. These exercises surely look fun in the YouTube videos but can impact or injure your joints if you are a beginner. Even with a basic movement like pushups or squats, try to progress slowly day by day.
People want to be in shape all the time. Does that mean one necessarily has to lose weight?
Yes and no, if someone is obese and wants to get back in shape, he or she must aim towards losing the fat, not the weight. And if someone is not obese per se, he or she can aim for recomposition where we aim to build muscles and losing fat at the same time. Both things can be achieved without starving yourself and by enjoying your favourite food items once in a while.
Fitness is not one glove fits all. So why do most fitness trainers/nutritionists prescribe a template diet plan (low carb- high protein)? What if someone has a kidney issue or has high uric acid and have more proteins that can impact their health?
This is the biggest problem we are facing in the fitness industry boom, where many influencers-turned-trainers are now selling out templates to their clients without caring about their diet history, their food habits, their medical condition and the stress levels they are under due to their regular job. One template doesn’t and won’t ever work for all. That’s why we have got doctors in our team, whenever a client enrolls with us with a medical condition like uric acid, or lifestyle disorders like PCOS/Ds, we make their diet plan as per the physician’s advice and keep a check regularly.
What are your thoughts on intermittent fasting? How safe it is and what should one keep in mind while following it?
Intermittent fasting is just another tool to restrict your overall calories intake. If you set a deadline to eat in a certain window, for example, 8 hours of window and in this small-time frame one can eat only so much, that’s why it seems helpful to people. But again, one diet style cannot work for everyone. If you are a person with acidity issues, it can be harmful to you. Or if you are a person with a very good athletic regime, it won’t be sustainable for you because you will be needing good carbs around your workout to perform optimally. And if you are following intermittent fasting, you can select a window of fasting hours like 12 or 16 and then eat only during the rest of the hours. But do take care of your overall calorie intake, or else it will be of no use.
They say Indian food makes you fat and salads/oats are healthy. What is the biggest myth around nutrition while losing weight and trying to get into shape?
It’s a misconception. Indian food is healthy and can help you to achieve your goals easily. You don’t have to eat oats or rely on salads all the time. I don’t remember when was the last time I had oats. I eat poha in my breakfast or simple wheat flour paranthas. Because the calories are same and one should follow a diet which he or she can adhere to lifetime. One of the biggest myths is that we have to always eat bland salad-based meals to lose weight which isn’t true at all. One can enjoy Rajma Rice, Dal Roti, Dal Rice, Poha, Upma, even Pasta and biryani too, while on a weight loss diet.