By Shilpi Madan
She is turning 50 next year and is the leading fit and fab icon for everyone to emulate. Yasmin Karachiwala, the celebrity fitness trainer who is synonymous with Pilates, is the force behind the toned physiques of many Bollywood actresses including Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Aalia Bhatt, and blazes forth with an exciting edition of Pilates Festival India, the next chapter scheduled in Kovalam in 2020.
Excerpts from a snap conversation with Express Parenting as she launches her own YouTube channel.
What does fitness mean to you?
I follow the simple anthem in life: “Be fit because you deserve it”. Irrespective of age, you need to have a holistic approach towards your own wellbeing.
What does that involve for kids?
Making smart choices about food and what we put inside our bodies. The West is moving away from junk food, that is coming to India and enticing us and we are consuming all the junk food galore. Learn to say no to unhealthy foodstuff.
In your TEDx talks, you have spoken about being the laziest kid on planet Earth.
Yes. My life was all about playing, sleeping, eating and watching television. I used to hang around in my school uniform till bedtime, not bothering to even change my clothes, snacking on fried foods and watching television, much to my mother’s angst. I loved my pizzas and biryanis too much.
What changed you?
The turning point came when a friend of mine at 18 was dating a boy and wanted to lose weight. She coerced me into joining a fitness class with her. Peer pressure works in many ways. As does peer acceptance. I flowed along, and the rest is history.
Do you train children?
Yes. But it falls a bit expensive though and most parents do not want to spend that kind of money on children. There is a nine-year-old gymnast readying herself for an international competition, another child with a spine problem who comes on weekends…
What do we need to remember and practice as parents?
Simple: children need to be outdoors. They need to move, go out and have fun. Legs are meant for walking, running, sports…not for parking yourself in a corner to latch onto games on screens. Make sure you use your hands and legs throughout the day. These days, kids are either busy doing homework and attending classes or latching onto screens. Very unhealthy.
How resolutely have you been able to work on this anthem with your own kids?
My kids called me Hitler when they were growing up. My rule was clear: no play, no dinner. It was compulsory to go down and play at 6 pm every day. That was non-negotiable. I have done that, made them forfeit dinner if they skipped physical activity. They hated me for that tyranny but now thank me for knitting that habit into them. My son was a fat child, he has lost 26 kg owing to a focussed eating plan and exercise.
How does a parent work around food consumption at birthday parties galore these days: a practical tip?
I can share what I have practiced with my own children. When you go to a birthday party, you can eat one of these, not all: ice cream, cake, cold drink. You have to limit the sugar, that is the biggest culprit.
Any diet tips?
I dislike the word ‘diet’ honestly as it is very restrictive. I believe in food plans. Always plan your food. You have to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t go on these crazy diets that promote only fat, only protein. It is very important to hydrate yourself. How can you forget to have water? Keep sipping on water every half an hour, without waiting till you are really thirsty.
Finally, what is that vital mantra on cheat time ?
Remember, it is a cheat meal, never a cheat day. Indulge in what you absolutely relish once a week. I love a delicious chicken biryani and that makes my Sunday afternoon.