German anatomist Joseph Pilates wanted to create a disciplined physical fitness system which could be embraced by people of all ages, and it lead to the birth of Pilates. Over the years, this fitness system has gained immense popularity among fitness enthusiasts and celebrities across the world, including Bollywood stars.
In India, celebrity fitness trainer Yasmin Karachiwala is considered to be the pioneer of Pilates. The Mumbai-based expert is India’s first Body Arts and Science Institute (BASI)-certified Pilates instructor who has also penned Sculpt and Shape: The Pilates Way.
We got in touch with Karachiwala, who holds more than 25 years of experience, to know more about the benefits of Pilates.
How did your journey to become ‘India’s most sought after fitness trainer’ begin? What led you to choose this as a full-time career?
My fitness journey started unexpectedly. Many years ago, a friend coaxed me into joining a gym with her. I happened to go for their aerobics class and realised that I was a complete klutz. I took it upon myself to go back and learn all the routines and soon I was ahead of the class. Once my instructor was sick and asked me to fill in for her. I really enjoyed it and thought that this would be a good career path for me. I then got certified as a group aerobics instructor and soon started teaching step classes. I then got into weight training and was still looking for something that would stretch and strengthen at the same time and I found Pilates. I went to America and got certified.
You are known as the pioneer of Pilates in India. What interests you about this form?
I have done a lot of aerobics, weights, TRX, functional training but I wanted something to work from the inside out and nothing does that better than Pilates. It stretches and strengthens the body from the inside-out giving you better posture, alignment and prevents injuries. It makes you better equipped for any other activity that you choose.
How was Pilates Festival India 2019 different from its previous edition?
Pilates Festival India 2019 had six master instructors who taught different classes throughout the day. It got recognised by a lot of Pilates teacher in India who came together to learn and grow as a community.
What changes have you observed in the fitness industry in the last 10 years?
There has been a shift in thinking when it comes to women’s fitness, and that the gym is no longer a place to go just to lose weight. I think generally there is more awareness about being strong rather than skinny. Gone are the days when being thin was enough for the screen, now everyone wants to be known as a fitness icon.
Do you agree that people’s perception about fitness has evolved for the better?
Yes, I agree. I’m happy that people’s perceptions have now changed. Everyone is more aware of their health and fitness. It is not about being skinny but leading a healthy life – working out and eating right – which makes you look and feel good. Being fit not only helps you to eat healthy but also helps you adapt a healthy lifestyle.
A piece of advice for women who are more comfortable with home workouts.
There are lots of home exercises you can do like squats, lunges. Challenge yourself and avoid boredom. Find an exercise partner. Schedule your workouts. Use a journal to track your progress and jot down any breakthroughs you may have – push ups, triceps dips, jumping jacks, suryanamaskars, chest lifts, sit ups. You can buy a TheraBand and do lots of free hand exercises.
Vegetarians often complain about optimum protein intake. Any tips for them?
Most people, especially vegetarians, think they don’t get enough protein. According to me, protein is quite over-hyped. People go crazy about how much protein they should take. Does your body really require that much protein? Are we working out that hard that we really need to compensate with the best protein? There are a lot of great vegetarian options like paneer, dal, sprouts, nuts, tofu, broccoli, seeds, dairy products like dahi. Even protein shakes or sauces like edamame can be a supplement to meet your protein requirements.
The most common diet and fitness mistakes people make, according to you?
I find people doing fad diets all the time and they set themselves up for failure. We need to make good food choices, not follow a diet.