x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Abhishek Sharma: fitness guru to the stars

Abhishek Sharma has been training Bollywood's stars for years. Now he shares his exercise tips in a new book, Fitness on the Go.

The Bollywood celebrity personal trainer Abhishek Sharma. Courtesy Abhishek Sharma
The Bollywood celebrity personal trainer Abhishek Sharma. Courtesy Abhishek Sharma

When some of Bollywood’s most famous A-listers want to get in top shape, they turn to Abhishek -Sharma.

The personal trainer counts the acting legend Anil Kapoor, who’s perhaps best known outside India for his role as the quizmaster in Slumdog Millionaire, his daughter Sonam Kapoor, and the actress and model Deepika Padukone among his clientele.

Now, keen to share his tips with the rest of the world, he’s condensed all his health theories into a step-by-step guidebook. Fitness on the Go, which is due in UAE book shops in November, aims to overhaul the lifestyle of the average flabby urbanite and get them as healthy as the stars they watch on the movie screen.

Sharma is a black-belt karate champion, whose work in Bollywood began when he was hired to work on the film set for Gandhi, My Father (2007). Darshan Jariwala, the actor portraying the leader of India’s independence movement, needed to shed his excess weight quickly to match Gandhi’s lean physique, which Sharma helped him achieve.

Since then, many other celebrities longing for a perfect body have started relying on Sharma to train them.

For example, one of his most recent jobs included working on the soon-to-be-released romance film, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani (Crazy Youth), starring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone.

Much of its story takes place in India’s mountains and the leading actors were required to undertake lengthy treks for the daily filming. Sharma was on the set for a month, helping them maintain their fitness levels.

Such was Padukone’s admiration for Sharma’s exercise methods, she even agreed to write the foreword for his book.

His fitness philosophy is simple and one that is repeated by health experts across the world.

He advocates a holistic approach and mixing up your daily training with cardio workouts, basic exercises such as squats, push-ups and pull-ups, then combining it all with traditional Indian fitness methods, such as classical yoga, which he relies on for its meditative relaxation properties and to improve suppleness.

However, he claims that on its own, yoga is not sufficient.

“A lot of people say yoga is better than going to the gym or playing sports or running,” he says. “But I disagree. I think it complements other fitness routines. You know, you couldn’t run a marathon or climb Mount Everest just by doing yoga. A workout is all about challenging the body. But yoga is about being graceful and moving slowly. So you need a cardio workout, too.”

Another important consideration is diet. Sharma encourages his readers to eschew processed foods in favour of natural, organic products, such as coconuts and fresh coconut water.

“These days, fruit is available all year round, but now apples are in season, so this is a good time to eat them,” he explains.

Nevertheless, he insists his book is nothing like the get-fit-quick solutions that many are trying to sell.

He says: “Everyone wants shortcuts these days, but it’s hard work to get permanent results in fitness. Often people get over-enthusiastic about getting fit and aren’t able to choose the right exercises. I mean, if you’re very overweight and decide you want a body like Salman Khan’s and start lifting heavy weights, you could seriously injure yourself.

“I always say, first improve flexibility, then stamina and then work on strength.”

But he is insistent that following the advice in the book will eventually produce benefits.

“Well, I can’t guarantee you will end up as fit and slim as Deepika Padukone or as muscled as Salman Khan. Everyone can make improvements in their life and this book will put you on the right path.”