For many of these brawn machines, the body is the temple, and ignorance is bliss, warns
- “I HAVE NO BRAIN, JUST BRAWN”
There’s nothing wrong with that. After all, the body is their temple, and ignorance is bliss (that’s how Rushdie described Californians, but it could easily be contemporary Indians). The only problem is that if they give you the wrong advice, you could end up dropping your uterus, or damage your gonads, or get a bad case of halitosis. According to a veteran gym owner, who didn’t want to be named, most personal trainers are only working on getting you a quick-fix bod, even if that ends up making you an invalid with bad knees and a dysfunctional liver by the time you are 55. In their bid to delete all the adipose and turn it into rippling muscle, they often give people insane advice. “They’ll recommend any thing just to pump up your body. I know one trainer who advises his clients to eat 27 eggs and nine chickens a day,” says the gym owner. Eek? It’s because this high protein diet helps you develop quick muscles (and terrible breath?). In one case, a 15-year-old boy, who wants to be Hrithik when he grows up, is on this diet. Does his mummy know? Eggs, chicken, even protein shakes are not so bad, but what can get dubious is the ease with which they prescribe steroids and scary substances like creatine. “Eventually, you must look at the health benefits of fitness, not just the aesthetic side,” says former fitness instructor Banoo Batliboi. “Fitness has three basic components : cardio-vascular, strength training, and flexibility.”
- “YOU’RE GETTING OBSESSED WITH ME”
The number of wealthy married women who are having affairs with their personal trainers is staggering. It’s logical enough. These women are often stuck with fat, flatulent and flaccid men who are busy chasing their own fantasies. Along comes Mr Hunk, fresh from Ludhiana–or Parsi Colony. Work out happens in madam’s bedroom. Drop the blinds. It’s a fair exchange. She gets Adonis, and he gets Armani (Why do you think personal trainers are always so well turned-out?). “It happens all the time,” confides one lady who lunches. “And these are women you would never suspect.” Just last week, a conservative wealthy burkha-clad woman who used to work out at a south Mumbai gym, threw out her husband and had her trainer move in. It works in all directions. We also heard of an expat gentleman who invited his toy boy trainer to come and live with him.
- “YOU CAN’T CHANGE YOUR GENES”
Your trainer may tell you that he can get you a dream body if you follow his step-ups, but the fact is that the way you look has been largely predetermined by those squiggly little things called genes. Many of these trainers come from small towns in the north, and have grown up in the akhada tradition of eating well and romping around in the mustard fields. The same may not apply to every one. So, if your parents are both a bit on the stout side, and that is the natural shape of your body, no matter how much you sweat it out, or starve yourself, your body will creep back to that level. “You need to be aware of your limitations,” advises a gym owner. “It doesn’t mean you stop trying, but you could perhaps have different goals–like to stay healthy, and sustain that feeling of well-being that comes from working out.” Besides, one size doesn’t fit all. Different people require different kinds of inputs depending on their needs.
- “I CHARGE DEPENDING ON WHO YOU ARE”
The range for personal trainers can be anywhere from Rs 600 per session to Rs 10,000 (no, that’s not a typo). Like ipods and salt, personal trainers seem to have become a neccessity, and because they can be as indispensible as your therapist, they charge whatever. If the trainer has broken into Bollywood, and convinced some bimbo that he can charge her chakras and give her a Beyonce like body through his cosmic nutritional tips, he can safely plan to earn Rs 30,000 per session.
That, incidentally, is what a certain well-known trainer reportedly charged a young actress recently. More power to both. What’s the big deal? A personal training session here, an Atul Dodiya painting there. It’s all very ho-hum beyond a few zeros. And any way, for every sucker, there are at least ten cosmic bull-shitters.
- “I HAVE NO QUALIFICATIONS”
A trainer has to have a keen understanding of anatomy, posture and physiognomy. Ask whether he or she has been certified. There are several
certifications available, the best among them being the ACSM, or American College of Sports Medicine certifiication, which is offered in India as well. An ACSM-certified trainer will have a good knowledge of theory as well as practical training. There is also the ACE, which comes from the American Council of Exercise. Locally, trainer Kaizad Kapadia has started a fitness academy with a highly respected training program. Make sure your trainer has some idea about the nuances of the spinal cord and does not spell muscle like the shellfish.