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Meet Miss India Fitness Physique 2012!

Last updated on: June 16, 2012 10:42 IST

Meet Miss India Fitness Physique 2012!

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Avni Mehrotra

At 35, Karuna Swami is in the best shape of her life and fitness is both her career and her passion. In an interview with rediff.com, she discusses how a super-fit mother of six inspired her, why Indians have no commitment to their health and how looking like a celeb is not the be-all and end-all of exercise and dieting.

The venue is UK Fitness Centre, the location Andheri, Mumbai. Uday Swami, a body builder, greets us and then proudly introduces his wife. Winner of Miss India Fitness Physique 2012, Karuna Swami walks in beaming, her face lit up. Giving all our contemporary actresses a run for their money, the lady claims her body is 'out of shape' at the moment.

"People these days simply associate being thin with being fit -- I don't understand why. If you have broad shoulders, be proud of your broad shoulders, but tone your body instead of losing weight," she starts off.

Despite being a sports enthusiast since her school days, Karuna faced opposition from her father initially -- he wanted her to be a teacher. "During our days, it was only if someone didn't do well after graduation that s/he was encouraged to resort to the fitness profession. It was one career which desperately needed professionals; even a person without any expertise or knowledge could become a trainer," she says.

Although her struggle wasn't easy, today she proudly flaunts her trophy and believes the respect she receives was totally worth the wait. With more than 15 years of experience in the fields of yoga, aerobics, gymnastics and body building, she breaks fitness myths for professionals who have no time for their well-being.

The Swamis recently launched a 'Fitness Modelling Programme' at their Juhu centre, which combines fitness training with body sculpting and brings any fitness enthusiast to par with international standards. The three month long rigorous training programme began in May 2012 and invites applications from everyone.

Karuna also conducts regular sessions for women and holds competitions on a mass level to encourage sports across the country.

In the following pages, she discusses her career, the fitness programme she and her husband are offering at their centre and simple tips to incorporate health into your daily routine.

Please click 'Next' to read more...


Image: Karuna Swami
Photographs: Courtesy Karuna Swami

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'She was one of the fittest women I had ever seen ...'

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Apart from the traditional definition of health, what other aspects would you say are important when it comes to complete wellbeing?

For me, health is not just about one thing; rather, it is a whole, made up of five important components. When I talk about health I include flexibility, strength training, the physical aspect of looking good, eating right and finally, adequate rest.

Your latest offering caters more towards the glamorous aspect of fitness. Tell us more about the Fitness Modelling Programme.

The reason behind the name is that people only come to exercise when they want to lose weight, look thin, probably achieve the figure of a model on the cover of a magaxine etc. But apart from that, fitness also makes you feel amazing about yourself and inculcates a positive attitude. Hence, the name combines the glamorous aspect of fitness along with taking care of one's complete health.

My program is a three-month training programme, which involves TRX training, kickboxing, Pilates, power yoga, meditation and dieting under the strict supervision of professionals. The program completely rips you, so that at the end of three months you emerge not just feeling lighter and fitter, but also much happier.

What kind of clients do you usually deal with?

For me anyone who is ready to take the first step towards fitness is ready to join. I have clients ranging from actors like Raveena Tandon to corporate professionals, aspiring models and housewives. As soon as I have a batch of five, I start with the three month long course.

What was the motivating factor behind such a unique concept?

The incident is rather funny, but around four years ago, I remember sitting at my Marol centre and reading the magazine Oxygen. It was the lady on the cover page who caught my attention. She was one of the fittest women I had ever seen and the headline loudly proclaimed 'mother of six'. It was then that I knew I had to do this.


Image: Karuna Swami
Photographs: Courtesy Karuna Swami

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'I certainly feel that celebrities do resort to short-cut measures to lose weight'

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So how did you go about shaping your career as a fitness model?

I started my career as a trainer with Talwalkar's Thane, after a lot of opposition from my father, who always wanted me to be a teacher. For more than 15 years now, I have worked with all the leading gymnasiums in Mumbai and have completed my Reebok certification, Pilates certification and trained at almost all 5-star hotels.

What future do you see for people who aspire to get into the health industry and aspire to be health professionals?

Being inclined towards sports throughout and having worked my way up, I would definitely advise anyone aiming to get into the industry to just go for it. Yes, you do have to struggle and work hard to get there. Moreover, with the increase in nutrition companies and the advent of Gold's Gym, World's Gym etc, the growth potential is tremendous.

What is your take on the current trend of celeb fitness, as compared to earlier?

Earlier celebrities used to be naturally athletic. They used to hail from villages and regular exercising used to be a part of their daily routine. Now many are working towards the muscular, brawny look instead of being athletic. The reason that they have no extra ounce of fat can sometimes even be attributed to the regular intake of steroids and drugs.

What do you think is the cause of many celebrities' ever-fluctuating weight? How do they manage to achieve exactly what movie directors want in such a short span of time?

As far as my knowledge goes, I certainly feel that celebrities do resort to short-cut measures to lose weight. They go for intensive crash-dieting, along with expert training and sacrifice a lot for their fitness and to lose weight. This not only affects their wellbeing, but also puts them at the risk of diseases. That's how they become so prone to heart attacks.


Image: Karuna Swami
Photographs: Courtesy Karuna Swami

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'I blame Indians for their lifestyle and their extreme lack of awareness regarding their health'

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How conscientious are Indians towards their health, dietary habits, regular exercising etc?

I am sorry to say that as per my observation, absolutely zilch! Initially they are pretty pepped to train, but as the programme intensifies, they start losing interest. I think Indians need to come out of their comfort zones and start finding time for fitness.

What do you think is the reason behind this and what do you think is the solution?

I blame Indians for their lifestyle and their extreme lack of awareness regarding their health. Being a workaholic is fine, but if you want to stay fit, you simply need to take care of little things. Have a proper breakfast, avoid eating out more than once a week, run instead of walking on the treadmill, avoid snacking on junk food. These are more than enough to stay healthy. Always remember, even if you are the busiest person on earth, nothing is more important than yourself. And if you want to, you can definitely find time for some form of daily exercise.

With young girls so obsessed with weightloss and achieving a size zero figure, what is your recommendation?

This is one thing that I totally advise against. I call these anorexic girls 'skinny fat'. The way in which they lose weight reduces their inches, but has a high and adverse chance of relapsing. Resorting to crash diets is not the solution. It is important that you maintain your BMR (body mass ratio) and be toned rather than skinny. I would advise these girls to stop starving and have small and regular meals instead, with adequate exercise. Girls need to know that the teens are a growing age and they need to eat to avoid aging, hair loss, bone density loss etc so soon.


Image: Karuna Swami
Photographs: Courtesy Karuna Swami
Tags: BMR

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'Usually people don't care whether they are burning fat or burning muscle'

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Today everyone, irrespective of their body shape and structure, wants to look like a trending celebrity. What is your take on that?

I believe you can achieve the figure of your favourite celebrity if you plan it by the right means. If you are ready to work hard, control your diet and do regular, intensive training, it is not impossible to change your body contours. But usually people don't care whether they are burning fat or burning muscle. Moreover, the desire to look good makes them resort to severe means like starvation and crash dieting, which should be avoided.

Name five male and female celebrities in India who you think have a perfect body.

Well, among the ladies I am extremely sorry I won't be able to name anyone apart from Mallika Sherawat and Bipasha Basu. Yes, male celebrities take more care of fitness levels, instead of simply adjusting their weight according to the movie they're working on. I believe Salman Khan has the best body in India, followed by John Abraham, Sonu Sood, Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgn

Almost everybody is inevitably glued to the computer throughout the day. Could you suggest some simple exercises to prevent the harm this causes?

It is very important to take a break every 30-45 minutes. You can do simple stretching exercises with your arms and head. The best acupressure device would be the smiley balls which are available everywhere. Simply squeeze them every now and then after constant typing to relax the finger and arm muscles.


Image: Karuna Swami
Photographs: Courtesy Karuna Swami

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'Simple tips can be easily incorporated into everyone's daily routine'

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Can you provide some quick tips on how to stay healthy? Just some small measures which people can incorporate into their daily lives to cultivate a positive attitude towards fitness.

  • The first thing I would tell people to do is cut down on fat, not carbs. Do simple things like replacing regular milk with skim milk and its products.
  • Avoid too many cups of tea or coffee -- they are not filling and add to your calories.
  • Have at least two seasonal fruit per day, along with regular small meals.
  • Maintain your hydration and blood circulation levels by having three to four litres of water daily.
  • Walk for 20 minutes or do 10 minutes of marching at home every day. If you are more inclined towards yoga, then do 10 surya namaskars per day.
  • Especially for housewives -- avoid napping in the afternoon. Instead, sleep for a good eight or nine hours at night.
  • Avoid reusing oil as it contains trans fats. If you want to consume fats, do so from a clean source.

These are simple tips which can be easily incorporated into everyone's daily routine. They are just a more conscientious approach towards one's lifestyle.


Image: Karuna Swami
Photographs: Courtesy Karuna Swami
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