Fitness guru Yasmin Karachiwala on shaping up Bollywood’s leading ladies

Yasmin Karachiwala has recently launched the book Sculpt and Shape: The Pilates Way, which she co-authored with Zeena Dhalla, a leading fitness professional. She discusses her new book and working with her celebrity clients.

Yasmin Karachiwala’s new book is out now. Courtesy Yasmin Karachiwala
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As the woman behind the sculpted and glamorous bodies of many of Bollywood’s best-known divas, Yasmin Karachiwala has a strong claim to the title of India’s leading fitness coach.

She designed the fitness plan that gave Katrina Kaif her athletic look in Dhoom 3 and pushed Deepika Padukone to get into the best possible shape for Cocktail. Her year-long effort with Alia Bhatt also paid off and audiences will see the result in her upcoming film Shaandaar.

Karachiwala runs the Body Image studio in Mumbai, where she has been designing customised fitness and nutrition plans for clients for 24 years. She is also credited with introducing Pilates to the country.

She recently launched the book Sculpt and Shape: The Pilates Way, which she co-authored with Zeena Dhalla, a leading fitness professional. She told The National about the book and working with her celebrity clients.

What can readers expect from the book?

Like all good books on fitness, our book discusses exercises and how they can be done well. But where it goes a step further is in touching upon how sleep, fear and emotions can affect exercise routines and lifestyle. Most importantly, it talks about the significance of breathing patterns during exercise, which most people discount. When I do five minutes of breathing exercises with my new clients, they feel dizzy because they are not used to oxygenating their body so much.

You are a strong proponent of Pilates. How is it more beneficial than other exercise?

Pilates helps you achieve results in a much gentler way than other exercises because it does not injure your muscles. It works your core with every exercise, which means that even if you are working on your biceps, you still have to engage your core for stability.

You are India’s fitness trainer to the stars. Who was your first celebrity client?

Kareena Kapoor was the first celebrity to come to me 12 years ago. At that time, I wasn’t doing Pilates, so we did a lot of cardiovascular and other gym exercises.

What is the biggest challenge for celebrities?

Their tight work schedules make it difficult for celebrities to make time for exercise. Sometimes they work 12 to 14 hours a day – and at others they are just travelling for a stretch. But to achieve a certain look for a film, they need to work hard for it. It’s difficult, but they ensure that they exercise at some time of the day and that’s where I come in, by making myself available at their convenience. Padukone is a morning person and is usually with me for exercise at 6am or 7am. Katrina Kaif is just the opposite – she prefers to work out at night, so there have been times when we have exercised even at midnight.

What are the virtues that help your celebrity clients achieve their goals?

Patience and discipline are the virtues that help them get by. Today, their focus has shifted from slimming down to being fit because fitness helps them work longer.

Tell us about the YouTube channel you are launching.

A lot of people reach out to me through social media with their problems and for customised workouts. I have been posting exercise plans on Facebook for a while, so the next step is to make a workout schedule that anyone can do at home without equipments. The YouTube channel will have various doable sessions for different body parts and will help people do exercises properly.

Shaping Up

Bollywood fitness guru Yasmin Karachiwala spills the beans on three celebrities she has worked with:

Katrina Kaif

Has worked with Yasmin Karachiwala for nine years.

Strength: athletic legs, which she achieved through squats, lunges and plyometrics.

Weakness and how she overcomes it: I make sure she works out by constantly sending her reminders.

Exercise and diet preferences: now she mostly does Pilates. She prefers a strong workout so that she feels good after doing it. She likes to eat well, never starves. The role for which she sweated the most: Dhoom 3.

Deepika Padukone

Has worked with Karachiwala for four to five years.

Strengths: a flexible body by virtue of being an athlete and also a strong core, which she achieved through Pilates.

Weakness and how she overcomes it: due to her arched posture, she tends to get back pain if she doesn't work out for a while. So she tries to work out regularly.

Exercise and diet preferences: she loves Pilates and that’s the only exercise she does. She eats the right kind of food, every two hours.

The role for which she sweated the most: Cocktail.

Kareena Kapoor

Has worked with Karachiwala for 12 years.

Strength: shapely legs, which she achieved through a mix of cardiovascular exercises, Pilates and yoga. Persistence is her middle name when it comes to exercise.

Weakness and how she overcomes it: going off the balance and getting slack, but she overcomes it with sheer willpower and the will to look good.

Exercise and diet preferences: Pilates and cardiovascular exercises. She is a foodie, but eats everything in moderation and follows a strict diet plan.

The role for which she sweated the most: her song Mera Naam Mary (My name is Mary) in Brothers.