He might have earned himself the tag of the ‘quintessential action hero’ of his time, but Suniel Shetty was never at the peak of fitness when he was delivering hits like Mohra, Gopi Kishan and Balwaan. Sure, he pulled off the role of the angst-ridden young man hell-bent on revenge flawlessly, but he never had the chiselled body complete with six pack abs that most action heroes are associated with these days. It was only much later in life that the actor started bulking up and fortunately for him, it was just a by-product of his single-minded dedication to fitness.
Recently, at a jam-packed conference of MissionFitIndia’s campaign launch, Shetty spoke to indianexpress.com on the vision of India’s biggest 120-day fitness drive, his outlook towards physical fitness, the importance of thali concept and how social media has affected our mental health.
You are known for redefining health and fitness and in your own words, the transformation happened after you turned 50. What motivated you to pursue it? And how long has this fabulous journey being?
I have never taken it as a destination, but post 50 I decided that I definitely want to make a difference because people give up after 50 saying they are too old and too slow and things can’t happen. I just wanted to prove to myself, my kids, friends and my fans that it’s all in the mind and yes, the body does slow down but if we are at it, it is nothing we can’t achieve. I am super fit for my age and I won’t compare myself to a 20-year-old but I am in good shape and that is only because I believe in what I said and I believe in what I do. I eat normal food, but I train hard.
What’s your fitness routine like?
‘Stretch, Run, Lift and Repeat’ is what I follow. I am not bound to one specific exercise, I do multiple exercises but not at one go but in a phased manner. I do yoga, gym, and other physical activities. Whatever you do, your fitness regime should have a bit of all these and you should stick to it. Like I said earlier, you don’t have to work out for hours – start with stretching in bed and mild physical exercise for 5 to 10 minutes and then depending on your stamina, increase the duration to 20 or 30 minutes. You should have enough motivation and get inspired to try something new on your own such as plan a fitness-focused vacation, or go out and play cricket or any outdoor game that requires physical strength. These are effective ways to exercise and last but not the least, have a proper diet full of proteins and nutrients. It is really important.
People are always excited to get washboard abs and a lot of people are joining the gym these days to get fit physically. What about mental fitness? Do you believe in meditation, and forms like vipassana?
Let me tell you one thing, physical fitness or mental fitness, you have to begin mentally. I want to be better than yesterday, that is what I always aimed for and will continue to do so. I had said this when I turned 50 that this will be the fittest phase of my life, I know a lot of people are hunching at this age and I train my back to stand straight, hit my legs harder then I have ever hit so I could stand for hours, so its all mental, mental and mental. Today it is very important to get that mental balance. Social media has created this depression we see today. Kids should understand the value of interaction with real people out there. Depression was unheard of when kids used to spend a lot of time playing sports and other activities. Parents need to change their kid’s state of mind before they start complaining about depression, peer pressure and so on.
Studies by scientists at Nasa have recently shown that bouncing on a trampoline is 68 percent more effective than jogging and requires less effort. What do you have to say about that?
Yes, it is true. Bouncing on a trampoline requires less effort and strength but it is effective because our entire body comes into action than jogging. Bouncing on trampoline burns about 210 calories per 30 minutes while, jogging burns 105 calories per mile. However, both jogging and bouncing produce similar heart rate levels and oxygen consumptions but trampoline produces more biochemical results that put less stress on the heart, making it more efficient than running. Besides this, bouncing has many health benefits as compared to jogging when done with consistency. It reduces the risk of disease, elevates mood, better sleep and so on.
How do you maintain your diet while travelling?
I know exactly what quantity I need to eat: a palm full as I believe in the thali concept, the legacy which is a thousand years old. In MissionFitIndia, we are also talking about the thali concept: what are its benefits, what is there in Maharashtrian thali, Kashmiri thali or Gujarati thali. I believe there is no better nutrition then what is available at your home, just a little bit of adjustment is needed to bring that effective change.