Here is an inspiring Fat to fit journey as it comes from someone who had the fittest childhood but an absolutely lazy early adult life.
I grew up playing sports. But as life went on, I never realised how I disconnected from this beautiful art form. But at some point when I did, I tried and tried to get back to it until one day it happened.
I started gymnastics when I was 4 and continued for about 4 years and during that period I was a gold medalist at city and district level. I would hold splits on the beam and even do a flawless cartwheel on it. Oh and this was the time I would eat to live.
I then moved on to competitive swimming in school and university, trained in rifle shooting and horse riding. I managed to bag the yellow belt in Taekwondo and practiced parkour under the 2ndGen in India. I played football for high school and Kenkre Football Academy. I even made it to the top 25 who could represent Maharashtra in the open category for the nationals and trained for a month, although I didn’t make it to the final team. I also played handball, volleyball, badminton and ran races back in school, table tennis and skated for leisure and tried my hand at basketball.
I completed my P1 and P2 in paragliding having done my longest flight of 1 hour 40 minutes in 2007. I guided people from rappelling to hiking for an adventure company and completed my basic mountaineering course from Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in 2010 during which I strained my knees heavily and was forced to stop doing lunges and squats. During the last ‘project’ semester of engineering in Manipal, I would cycle for 3 hours in the morning, workout at Marena (Asia’s largest Gym in Manipal) for 2 hours, practice yoga for an hour and cycle again in the evening for 2 hours; 6 days a week for about 3 months straight. I trained so hard to be able to ride from Manali to Leh through some of the highest motorable passes in the world with Unventured and I did it!
The nomad life
However, with time as I began to travel more, opportunities to play sports greatly reduced. This was because, if it were a team sport, there was a lack of girls to make a team or memberships were expensive or more long term based. Even though I tried, I was barely able to work out on my own and even enjoy it. Eventually, by 2016, my motto began to sit at home and binge eat. By this time I had finally hit my peak of living for the sake of eating.
I moved back to India in 2017 after my 2 year Masters in Japan at 64 kilos (No, Japanese food is not healthy and at the same time, it is SO good) when it was so hard for me to even get up from the floor, I saw transformations that an acquaintance was doing and signed up with them for a 3-month plan. I joined a local gym then which shut temporarily for a couple of months and later just became so cramped and demotivating. The progress was slow, maybe I lost a couple of kilos and eventually, that was it. Also, no other gym felt good enough in the city as Manipal’s Marena had set the bar so high for me. From then on, I was pretty much living a nomad life. I lived in different places for a month each or travelled for a month and kept returning to my base in Mumbai. Thanks to my remote full-time job, I was able to do that and that’s why getting any membership for sport made no sense for me.
I started to see advertisements of Cult everywhere around April 2019 and wondered what it was all about. I also got in touch with my University friend Jyothi around then after very long who was also a Cult member and she told me all about it. I took my 2 free classes and eventually a 7 day trial at the Palladium centre. And I was very impressed. I learnt that cult centres were fancy, provided everything to freshen up, allowed me to try new sports/ formats, pause my membership, use any damn centre in the city and anywhere in India for limited number; classes started on time and most of all I could feel safe. This was apt for a nomad professional like me and for someone who always tried to make plans together like going to the gym was often followed by meeting someone. I was basically being spoon fed with everything and couldn’t have come up with a single excuse to not workout.
By July 20, 2019, I had finished my TTC in Aerial Yoga from 2015 Fitness (Yay! Happy one year on that to me) and started to work on my flexibility a bit, here and there. Also by then, I started my paid membership at Cult. I was at least 62 kilos then. I started making trips to Palladium and Prabhadevi centres at least 6 days a week unless something came up. This was at a time when I hadn’t worked on my lower body in 10 years and just had a minor slip disc. The trainers were so careful with me and at the same time pushed me to do better. I felt confident in trusting them. I started with Hrx and Yoga and at this time doing even 3 squats would mean soreness for a week. I tried TRX and Prowl, only to learn that they weren’t my thing. Doing SnC and Dance Fitness then would mean only being able to do 20% of the workout as my stamina and strength were so damn low. So I just tried them once and gave up. But overall, going to Cult was my only ‘out of home’ constant which became a habit and I would look forward to every class.
The real motivation
Pranav had always tried to convince me to go get fitter. But around this time, I was teasing my marathon-running friend, Kushagra about Indian food since he is in Denmark and that he was gonna put on weight. That is when he said ‘even 200gms of the upper body weight comes on your knees and makes a difference while running’ and that changed everything at my end. I realised how getting fat was only hurting my knees and I was determined more than ever to work hard to lose weight only for my knees.
Having cycled outdoors through rural pathways, cycling in the city was something I hated so you can imagine how turned off I was by the idea of indoor cycling. My only experience with spinning was with my Danish friend Stephanie in the outskirts of Copenhagen which was fun but it was just a one-time thing. But since I was keen on working on my lower body and doing some cardio, I gave RPM a try and fell in love with it because of the 3 amazing trainers, so much that I even did that intense class on consecutive days. I enjoyed RPM to such an extent that I would make it for an 8 am class without fail. In case of any other classes in the morning, I would wake up one hour prior and cancel them. So it truly broke my heart when they discontinued this killer format.
To re-add cardio to my workouts, I moved towards boxing and oh boy, my first class, I couldn’t even finish half of it and eventually, I moved on to completing it entirely and asking for a higher intensity. Yoga has helped me gain so much flexibility and I am now able to do headstands and bakasana. On the days, I was feeling lazy, I started doing dance fitness at Prabhadevi, increased my stamina and was even able to complete more of the SnC class on other days. On some days, I would even do 2 or 3 classes in a go-to challenge myself.
So not just physical fitness, Cult has made a huge difference in me even on the mental kind. I grew up with the idea that meditation is boring and slows you down (which isn’t supposed to be the best thing coming from a fast-paced city). But I tried one session at a time from the Foundation series by Dr Shyam and they were so logical for someone like me who comes from an engineering background to believe in. I have been able to increase my mindfulness and concentration. I eventually experienced Yoga Nidra by Divya Rolla and setting the Sankalpa of ‘I am content’ actually had led me to be happy at home. Not once have I felt like leaving home in these 4 months of lockdown.
The brilliant trainers always end their class by reminding you to have good nutrition and diet. Somewhere I knew this but I didn’t give it enough attention until late last year when I signed up for the nutritionist session over video. (I love technology) I was amazed by how she asked me about my schedule, what I like to eat and then suggested a diet which meant I didn’t have to force myself to follow something I couldn’t have anyway. I never followed it to the T but at the same time, I kept in mind the concepts. It changed the portions I ate and brought back the kind of things that were missing from my plate. I didn’t starve once and have never felt like binge eating since. This new routine has become a habit and has led me to be mindful about my ‘food’. There were times when I wouldn’t work out for weeks together but just by eating right, I was able to maintain weight. And this epic nutritionist, Nikita has just levelled up from being my family nutritionist to friends and family nutritionist.
This lockdown has been a game-changer. Sometimes, I spend time doing live classes but mostly live personal training. I also had to stop ordering food but I started to reduce my packaged and preserved food purchases too. Apart from eating healthier, it has always been more about reducing waste. I moved on to making whole wheat and semolina pasta/ noodles at home, whole wheat momos, poached fruits for desert, eating fresh cheese from Eleftheria, replaced all my sugar with jaggery, the only butter at home is homemade white butter aka Makhan and hung yoghurt has also become a regular for salad dressings to pizza bases.
Everything I was doing from the Cure Fit app has only led me to be fitter in every way. It has always given me something to look forward to and challenged me to only get better. It has taught me so much and brought about a change in routine through various formats. The trainers have been super supportive always and strived to help me get healthier. Slowly and steadily, I have been dropping kilos and today I am at 54 kilos. I have 2 to 4 kilos to go now depending on how I ‘look’. I can already feel my knees thanking me.
I am so grateful to each and everyone who has made a difference to me. My aerial yoga trainer Swati, Cult trainers Shweta, Parag, Manish, Swapnil, Gaurav, Adil, Amit, Ishita, Amar, Govind, Pankaj, Gyan, Avni, Sujoy, Sheetal, Vikas, Tabassum, Shivani (Not in any order), my nutritionist Nikita, the live trainers Naveen, Kamal, Tom, Rahul, Divya and Dr. Shyam, the amazing centre managers, the team behind Cure Fit and my friends, Pranav, Jyothi and Kushagra thank you all very much.
This is not a sponsored post and it is purely my experience. Its mostly to express gratitude and support these brilliant individuals who have made a massive difference to my life. But do check out my referral links below, they’re a win win. Also do follow me on @explorer.heena , @explorers.vault and @heenalovestoeat for instant updates.
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