The boot camp workout

Here’s everything you need to know about the boot camp workout, the  military-inspired exercise routine. 

Inspired by the training given to those who join the Armed Forces, boot-camps are high-intensity workouts that deliver specific results. “It’s primarily an outdoor group activity where a cluster of people who have the same goal join together,” says J. Keshav, owner and president of BootCamp Chennai, whose 12-week outdoors boot camp costs Rs12,300. The goals of a boot camp could vary, from weight loss, building stamina and endurance to general fitness, stretching, toning or strengthening muscles. 

“In one word, it’s roughing it out,” says Bengaluru-based Wannitaa Ashok, an expert in body transformation. “A full-body cardio and strength workout that’s very effective for weight loss,” she adds. It can help increase lean muscle mass, and build muscular and cardiovascular endurance and strength while improving overall coordination and balance, she explains. An important aspect of the workout is limiting the rest time between each move, so the heart rate goes up and you burn calories faster. “You do circuits of intense exercises for about 30-60 seconds each, pausing for only a few seconds between exercises,” says Vesna Pericevic Jacob, wellness expert and founder of Vesna’s Alta Celo, a wellness clinic based in Delhi. The idea is to schedule challenging workouts that push you to your limits, improve your fitness levels and burn calories faster. 

Boot-camp: The fitness level required

Photographs by Nathan G/Mint
Boot-camp training helps build strength, agility, speed and flexibility. Photographs by Nathan G/Mint

Most fitness trainers know that people who come to them are rookies, so they scale the activities around the group’s requirements, says Delhi-based Kamal Chhikara, owner and head coach at Reebok CrossFit Robust.

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Say goodnight with sleep apps

Sleep apps can at best help you discipline sleep habits, not tackle disorders.  There are many sleep apps that claim to use the accelerometer, microphone and camera in your phone to record the quality of your sleep, using sleep graphs to show how you slept, but all of them use average sleep patterns. This is based on the idea that interrupting the wrong sleep cycle—when you’re in slow-wave (deep sleep) or REM (dreaming)—can result in a sense of fatigue.

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But a study published in June in Preventive Medicine Reports, which screened 369 sleep apps available on Android and iPhones, analysed the most popular apps and found that while most help users set sleep-related goals, track and manage their sleep, and even offer white noise or guided meditation, few make use of other methods known to help the chronically sleep-deprived.

“There weren’t a lot of apps that had any information about the benefits of sleep, mentioned health risks associated with not getting enough sleep, and recommended the amount of sleep someone should get on a regular basis,” said Prof. Diana Grigsby-Toussaint from the University of Illinois, US, who led the research, in a press release.

Sleep apps can be useful in disciplining your sleep 

While you can use sleep apps to regulate and discipline your body clock and sleep cycles, you shouldn’t make the mistake of believing these can help you tackle sleep disorders.

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Post 35? It’s never too late to start exercising

You’re post 35 and you’ve finally decided to start exercising? That’s great news. For exercising regularly can reduce fat, stress and cholesterol, improve body functions, prevent diabetes and boost self-confidence, says Ali Irani, head (physiotherapy and sports medicine), Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai. The tricky part, however, is to ensure that your routine is safe, painless and enjoyable, especially if you are above 35. “It’s best to keep yourself low on intensity and duration initially, especially when you’ve never done it before,” he says.

Our experts suggest ways to make sure you keep moving, steadily and steadfastly.

Keep small, realistic goals

Want those six-packs? It’s possible, but you need to be patient, for it won’t happen immediately.

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8 gadgets to make air travel more comfortable

One of the most annoying aspects of air travel is just how loud everything seems to be, especially when you’re trying to sleep. There’s the quiet but insistent hum of the aircraft, which becomes a rumble the further you are from the cockpit. Then there are people talking, laughing, babies crying, cold blasts of air, and the sharp thuds of washroom doors. Technology can help you shut off some of this noise.

Google Daydream view comes with a soft wearable design that is lightweight and designed to fit comfortably over most eyeglasses.
Google Daydream view comes with a soft wearable design that is lightweight and designed to fit comfortably over most eyeglasses.
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How to protect your eyes

Your eyes are getting no rest from screens. Here’s how to protect them

An average Indian office-goer spends 6-8 hours daily looking at computer, mobile or television screens, says P. Suresh, consultant ophthalmologist at Fortis Hospital, Mumbai. “The figure is worse for IT professionals or people who use computers for work, as they spend 12-16 hours in front of screens .” That’s more than half a day spent gazing at a screen, glued to a laptop or a smartphone.

“It is like running on a treadmill all the time. You’re not giving any rest to the muscles of your eyes”

Dr P. Suresh

Continuously gazing at a screen causes stress, “leading to eye fatigue and strain, with symptoms like headaches, itching, blurred vision, red eyes, burning sensation, heavy eyes and, sometimes, difficulty in focusing”, says Parul Sharma, senior eye surgeon at Max Eye Care, Delhi.

If you think taking a break from your computer and WhatsApping will make a difference, it won’t. The closer you are to the screen, the more you strain your eyes.

So what should you do?

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What makes online games like Blue Whale so addictive?

What makes some online games so addictive that players are willing to harm themselves, even attempt suicide?

The Aerosol Challenge, a 2014 game, involved teenagers spraying themselves with deodorant at a distance of just a few inches from their skin, to see who could endure the pain the longest. It left some children with horrific burns.

In the Pass-out Challenge, young adults would choke themselves to the point of passing out in an attempt to reach an euphoric high—recording it all to post on social media.

The Fire Challenge saw people spraying themselves with flammable liquid and then setting it aflame, all for an online laugh. Neknominate had them drinking increasingly potent combinations of alcohol—this too led to some deaths. The Blue Whale game, the latest, sets tasks over a 50-day period, the last of which is jumping off a high-rise.

During Roman times, gladiatorial shows were a show of strength and violence. The Middle Ages turned execution into spectacle. Now, it’s online games like Blue Whale, says Shubha Madhusudhan, clinical psychologist, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru. “We have always had narcissistic personalities, sadists and psychopathic deviants in our society,” she says. The internet has just made it easier for all of them to connect with the vulnerable.

But what makes online gaming so addictive?

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How a skateboard brings social change in Madhya Pradesh village

Love of skateboard made Asha Gond, a 17-year-old tribal girl from Janwaar village in Panna district of Madhya Pradesh, the first person in her village to get a passport and travel to a foreign country. In November 2016 she stayed with a teacher in the UK for two months to learn to speak in English, something she was passionate about. All thanks to Janwaar Castle which crowdsourced the trip for her.

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Janwaar Castle: Girls First!

Janwaar Castle, is a project with India’s largest rural skatepark at its core.

Spearheaded by Ulrich Renate Reinhard, a 59-year-old German community activist, the skatepark happened by chance—over an impromptu conversation between Reinhard and Shyamendra Singh, the owner of Ken River Lodge resort in Panna National Park, in the summer of 2015. Singh asked Reinhard if she wanted to work in his home area. Reinhard suggested a skatepark and showed him a video of Skateistan, an NGO headquartered in Germany which empowers children and youth through skateboarding and education in various countries like Afghanistan.

“He loved the idea and agreed to donate land for it while I crowdsourced the funding to build the park,” says Reinhard who developes community projects with the internet at its core. She posted on her social media accounts and blogs, asking for artboards, or skateboards with artwork done by renowned artists from across the world, and received 19 of them. The artboards were then auctioned in October 2015 on eBay with the help of a German NGO skate-aid and Reinhard was able to raise $17,000 for the Janwaar Castle project. In April 2015, the skatepark had its grand opening and the project Janwaar Castle Community Organisation was formally turned into an NGO in January 2016. 

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New Release: The Rakta Queen

It gives me a thrill to announce the launch of Anantya Tantrist‘s third adventure, The Rakta Queen, yet another rollercoaster dive into the supernatural underworld of Delhi.

Anantya Tantrist is all that stands between Delhi and the forces of darkness.

A Kaula tantrik is brutally murdered by his chandaali slave. The same night, a group of university students lose their minds and perform an orchestrated orgy in front of the Vidhan Sabha metro station. 
To get to the truth, Anantya Tantrist, unofficial consultant with the Central Bureau of Investigation, must navigate her way past muderous sorcerers, deadly chandaalis, an underground betting scam run by jinns, and a renegade aghori teacher.

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This book’s my favourite of Anantya’s adventures so far as it’s where she faces not only a formidable enemy in a fantastic supernatural world, but also her mother’s legacy, an ancient one, that falls heavy upon her shoulders. 

The novel touches upon themes I’ve been thinking upon recently, which include what it means to be a feminist today, what freedom and democracy truly mean to us, and about authoritarian structures and the kind of society we want to become. All this through a rollicking adventure that explores the rich folklore and mythological past of India. I loved writing it every part of this book and hope you enjoy reading it as much.

Media Reviews

Cult of Chaos is a crime-busting story unlike any other’ – Asian Age ‘The terrible, scary and horrific side of society is explored …’ – Economic Times

‘Supernatural thrills, horror tropes and enigmatic women in old havelis’ – Mint

‘Taneja sure knows how to get the readers hooked and hang in anticipation’ – Mail Today

‘Anantya Tantrist combines an illegal tantric, lost figures from Indian mythology and scary villains all battling it out in the Capital’ – The Hindu

‘Her protagonist is so well developed that she can have Twitter discussions with her’ – The New Indian Express

‘…the country’s first tantrik detective novel, which also talks about the key issue of women’s safety’ – Business Standard

‘Anantya is as sassy and independent as they come’ – Factor Daily ‘…engages and piques your interest at every level …’ – Deccan Chronicle

‘Edgy thriller’ – Mid-Day
‘Anantya transports you to another world’ – The Week

‘The series brings alive the subversive and subaltern possibilities of traditional tantrism’ – Deccan Chronicle 

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Guest Post: How to multitask as a writer

Kiran Manral is a good friend and a prolific author who multitasks in a normal life. She has published eight books, written countless articles, blogs and short stories and is actively involved in mentoring startups, speaking on stage, involved in curating literary events and handling an awesome family. So of course when she launched yet another book, I had to ask her how she does so many amazing things in one life. This is what she had to say. 


How do you multitask so much, someone asked me the other day.

I had no honest reply to give her, except the very prosaic, “With great difficulty.” If there was a camera fitted in my home, it would make for rather sedate viewing. Get up. 5.45 am. Get to the kitchen. Make the tiffin boxes, morning tea. Wake the offspring, pack him off to school, put the clothes into the washing machine. Now here’s where it gets a little more exciting. Get to the computer, switch it on. At this point this is the most hedonistic you could get. My fingers start flying over the keyboard. That, with occasional interruptions to answer doorbells, put clothes out to dry, deal with the domestic help, organise breakfast, lunch, dinner. Rinse, repeat.

I work from home. I also live life on rotorblades.

You might not see it when you look at me, sitting at my desk, morning to night, my fingers working themselves out to the bone. But at my desk, I have multiple windows open. I have the attention span of a gnat. And perhaps that’s what works to my advantage.

Multitasking, isn’t that what we all do, every single day, without really thinking too much of it. It is par for the course for most women. There’s a day job. There are time bound projects that come up. There’s the offspring and his demands. There are events to be put together. And there is the writing. I chortle when folks say they’re going away for a few months to write. I long for the luxury of doing the same, but I know that in the peace and calm of only myself and my thoughts, writing won’t really happen. What might happen is boredom.

My writing feeds itself on my daily frenetic schedule.

There’s been books that have been written in this chaos, like the dancing stars of the cosmos that emerge out of the chaos of creation.  My latest book, Missing, Presumed Dead, began its life as a novella five years ago. I kept going back to it, the word doc stayed open, tinkering, and tinkering, until it emerged a manuscript that became a 268 page book. Or as my protagonist in this book, Aisha, reflects, it is the everyday routine that keeps us stable. It is routine that is the font of creativity. Or as Gustave Flaubert said, “’Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.” It is the discipline of writing with everything spinning around you, that allows your creativity to be the eye of the storm.

Because the books get written while life and work happens, the window to the Word file stays open, it gets looked at in the breaks between work, writing becomes my break from work. Writing becomes my play. And that’s why I wouldn’t have it any other way, but to swamp myself with things to do, and then run away to find myself in my writing.

Event: Talk at Eurocon – Trends in Indian Fantasy/SF

Pinch me. I’m giving a talk at Eurocon.

I’m writing this in a train, looking out at a blur of a rainy French day. On my way to Amiens from Paris. Amiens is a small town in France, where Jules Verne was born. A town where this year’s Eurocon 2018 will be held this weekend, Europe’s biggest convention for science fiction and fantasy. I’m heading there to speak about Indian fantasy and science fiction and my work. The amazing titles that are coming out of my country, the debut authors who are experimenting with a desire to read more Indian speculative fiction.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog. There is a reason. (And this should’ve been another blog, but frankly I’ve become just too busy to write blogs. Hoping that would change soon).

Earlier this year, I said bye to my home for 10 years, Bangalore and moved house and husband to Zurich. It was in the middle of February and for a month, the only things I saw outside my window were cats and snow. I also met a lot of Swiss officials for the various paperworks it takes for two people to move in their 30s. (Yet. Another. Blog)

It gave me a lot of time to reflect and work. And travel. Quietly, without social media. It’s freeing, by the way, to have a hiatus from the online world. You should try it.

I managed to set up new home, finish my third novel in Anantya Tantrist series (another blog on that too. Soon. I promise), wrote a 20 page comic about Anantya, with a fantastic artist and three short stories which are going to come up in various anthologies around the world. I also travelled two continents, to a lot of cities and attended lectures in ETH in Zurich and MIT in Boston.

As I said, there’s a lot happening so I won’t write many blogs. Or maybe I will, because there’s so much I have to share! Well, I’m talking to a bunch of Europeans at the Eurocon. Telling them stories I bring with me to their country. Our stories. Wish me luck, peeps! I’ll tell you later how it all went.

Meanwhile, leaving you with a fantastic illustration done for Eurocon. See you soon.