Want to shed flab? Try BodyPump, a workout that burns fat and builds muscles

Set to a pulsing rhythm of 10 tracks, BodyPump is a workout routine that uses High-Intensity Interval Training (Hiit). In 2012, Sanjay Reddy was 23 years old and weighed 168kg. “Even for my 6ft, 3 inches height, that was obese,” he says. Bored of a gym routine, he joined Cult Tribe, a fitness centre in Bengaluru. That’s when he was introduced to BodyPump, an exercise routine put together by New Zealand-based fitness company Les Mills International.

“It was a group workout of 15-20 people with weights, set to the latest DJ songs, with constant motivation by the instructor. The music, the healthy competition within the class and the energetic movement with weights completely pumped me up, leaving me with an exciting, happy feeling,” he says.

BodyPump makes you shed weight fast

Three years later, he had shed the flab and was happy about the way the workout had changed him physically and mentally. In 2015, he participated in a Les Mills workshop in Hyderabad and became a freelance instructor for BodyPump.

Set to a pulsing rhythm of 10 tracks, BodyPump is a workout routine that uses High-Intensity Interval Training (Hiit). It is specifically designed to help build lean muscle and strength, and improve your fat-burning ability, Reddy says. It’s also the ideal workout for anyone who wants to strengthen their muscles without gaining that bulky bodybuilder look.

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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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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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Exercises to help you fight the bulge

What kind of exercises should you do to fight the bulge? With age and love of beer and desserts, we develop beer bellies, muffin tops, thunder thighs and double or even triple chin. “Men tend to put on weight on the stomach, while women get fat deposits on the hip and thigh regions,” says Pooja Thacker, medical and sports therapist at Bhatia Hospital in Mumbai. “Fat accumulates because that particular part of the body, that muscle, hasn’t been moved much,” says Mumbai-based celebrity fitness trainer Vinod Channa, whose clients include actor John Abraham. Aim at a bigger fat spot like abdominal muscles or the back and thighs in your fitness regime and you will not only burn fat from that spot, but also lose overall weight faster, Channa adds. To address these trouble zones, you need a combination of cardio and strength training, teamed with a balanced diet, says Wanitha Ashok, a fitness expert who runs Moving Body studio in Bengaluru. Be it the beer belly or arms with chicken wing flab, we list the exercises to get them in shape.

flabby buttocksFlabby buttocks

Position your feet shoulder-width apart, with your back in line with a wall, says Pallavi Chugh, physiotherapist at Fortis Mamma Mia, Gurgaon. Keep your arms on either side, bend your knees, push your hips back as you lower your back against the wall. “Go as far as you can or until your thighs are parallel to the floor, without lifting your heels,” says Chugh. Hold for 5-10 seconds and do 10 repetitions twice a day.

Love handles

Stomach fat can be reduced by aiming at the bigger muscle groups, says Channa, since your belly becomes larger because of overall weight gain. “Do Crossfit, aim for overall weight loss, workout for your legs and back to burn more calories,” he adds. Ab and oblique exercises like bicycle crunches, Russian twists (which entail sitting on one’s buttocks and moving the legs from one side to other), Side V sit-ups, C-crunch (where you lie on your back and move your knees to your shoulders) and boat also aim at the belly, says Ashok. “Choose three-four different exercises and do them with core workouts and with lower back workout,” she says.

Double chin

Tackle jowls with a tongue press, says Chugh. Sit back straight, tilt your head back so that you’re looking at the ceiling. “Now forcefully press your tongue flat on the roof of your mouth,” she says. Keep the tongue in place and lower your chin to your chest as far as possible without rounding your upper back. “You should feel your chin and the front of your neck contract,” says Chugh. Now relax your tongue and straighten the neck. That’s one repetition and you need to do two sets of 20 repetitions. If that’s too much, Vesna Pericevic Jacob, founder of Delhi-based fitness company Vesna’s Alta Celo, suggests that you simply put a big smile on your face while keeping your teeth closed together. “Face yoga is great for targeting the double chin. Keep the smile on till you feel the muscles on the chin and neck activate,” she says. Keep it for a count of five-10 and repeat a few times.

Thunder thighs

Thighs are the biggest muscles of the body, and sitting all day makes them a magnet for storing fat, says Channa. “Tackle the fat with wide squat, jump, hip thruster (where you keep your back against a chair, knees folded and raise your hip) and hip raises (where you lie on your back, knees folded and raise your hips),” he says. In addition, add lunges, step-ups and side lifts. “Remember to involve your hips in these movements for maximizing the benefit,” he says. Do one set with 10 repetitions to start with and add in more sets with each passing week.

Chicken wing arms

Counter flabby upper arms with standing dumbbell exercises, says Chugh. Stand up with a light dumbbell in both hands, lift it over your head, keep the body straight and the legs shoulder-width apart. “Do 20 repetitions, twice a day,” she says. To aim at triceps, do four sets of push-downs, crab walk, elbow palm plank (in 15 repetitions), adds Channa.

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How to remove that awkward feeling while exercising

Many of us feel embarrassed about exercising because our bodies are less than perfect. Here’s how you can face those fears

Adhiraj Singh, 26, an assistant editor in a children’s magazine based in Mumbai, is cripplingly conscious about his man-boobs and the way his tummy jiggles when he jogs. “I just don’t like shaking it all up in front of strangers,” he says. It’s the reason he tried swimming instead. “I thought maybe under the water I can hide and avoid making eye contact.” But that hasn’t helped either, he has to wait for the showers to empty out completely before he can go in for a post-swim bath.

This self-consciousness has all but stopped his exercise routine. “I don’t think I will go to pools any more until I get my belly and chest in a controllable state,” he says. Singh is not alone. Body image is a major source of anxiety for people who are unfit.

“Indians are pretty intolerant towards people who are out of shape,” says Chandra Gopalan, director of Contours, a Bangalore-based, women’s-only gym. Gopalan, who runs ultra marathons with a group of men, was surprised to see that a lot of women who came to her gym were exercising for the first time in their lives. “There’s an apprehension in a lot of women about being judged by men at the gym,” says the 56-year-old. “And guys don’t help. They snigger and talk among themselves, making women conscious when they are doing cardio, like on a treadmill or cycle.”

Akshay Dhar, 30, a writer based in New Delhi, has always been on the heavier side. This has made going to the gym an uphill task. “People look down upon those who are overweight and make them feel terrible about themselves,” he says. Dhar has had to fend off jibes and well-meaning advice from people ever since school, which has made him all the more conscious about his weight. “It happened so frequently that I stopped going to a gym.” When his parents bought a treadmill and a cycle, Dhar started exercising in the privacy of his home.

Britton Brewer, a professor of psychology at Springfield College in Massachusetts, US, who specializes in sports and exercise psychology, believes that self-consciousness or anxiety about bodily aspects is one of the major reasons many people don’t exercise. “There is no single set of magic words that will work for everyone, but some people can benefit from a simple reminder of why they are exercising and what they hope to get out of it that day,” says Prof. Brewer in an email interview, adding that the more you exercise, the more you will get over exercise-related anxieties. We asked experts on how to deal with things that make you conscious while exercising.

My fat jiggles

Do you feel conscious about how your buttocks look when you are running outside or on the treadmill? Or, how fat rolls bulge from your track pants when you’re running? Well, you’re not alone. A lot of men and women spend time wondering if they look too unfit to run.

Get over it If you get conscious of the jiggles, cover them up smartly. “Go for full-control briefs or Spanx which rides up right under your bust,” suggests Jayati Bose, a celebrity stylist who works with actors like Priyanka Chopra and Sonam Kapoor. “Make sure they’re labelled as moisture-wicking so that all that sweat you generate is absorbed.” For the thighs and buttocks, Bose suggests a longer T-shirt. “Women can wear harem capris, which are fitted at the thigh, but baggy just below the knees, making your buttocks and thigh look thinner,” she says. The ones who’re conscious about their chicken-wing arms can opt for quarter- or full-sleeve tanks tops.

Everyone stares at me

You walk into a gym and you feel that all eyes are on you; and everyone is talking about how unfit you are.

Get over it Ironically, the only way to get over it is to exercise more. “Exercising is a viable means of reducing anxiety in general and social physique anxiety in particular,” says Prof. Brewer. Once you start exercising and feeling good about yourself, your worries will fall away. If you still feel really conscious, wear concealing exercise apparel and choose to exercise during low-traffic hours. “Participate with one or more friends or set exercise goals so that your focus changes from your awkwardness to your goals,” Prof. Brewer adds. As you become more consistent with your exercises, you will automatically forget about these anxieties and your mind will focus on your routine.

My pants tore

Clothes often tear in the gym or while exercising, especially at the crotch. “It’s awkward, but happens, and you’re not aware of it,” says Vesna Jacob, a fitness and wellness expert based in New Delhi.

Get over it Always keep an extra pair of pants in the locker room, suggests Jacob. “The most important thing is to have an attitude that these things can happen to anyone and today it happened to you, and that is all there is to it,” she says.

My breasts/chest bounce

Are you conscious while doing any cardio activity that involves running or jumping? Do you constantly feel someone is sniggering? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. A lot of people don’t exercise in public because they’re too conscious of others staring at their chests.

Get over it “Women should invest in a sports bra that fits well and is comfortable,” says Bose. While buying one, ensure that the straps, cups and band, including the side panels, make you feel comfortable by spot-jogging in the trial room. Men can opt for layering: a comfortable undershirt or vest with a larger-sized, half-sleeved T-shirt on top to hide the chest. Layering efficiently slims down the chest, hiding the bulges, and doesn’t let the nipples show through.

I am really awkward at weights

You pick up a weight and you’re scared it will fall on someone or on you. Your nightmare includes breaking a machine at the gym.

Get over it “Take help from an instructor or personal trainer on how to use the facilities at the gym till you feel confident,” says Prof. Brewer. You should be doing this anyway. Lifting weights needs proper technique and form, so work with your instructor till you get it right. And don’t be swayed by those lifting heavy weights; weightlifting, like all other exercises, must be done in proper progression. Your body must adapt and grow stronger by using lighter weights, and then you can increase it, slowly, over time.

I sweat like a pig

You love exercising but hate the dark, damp patches that colour your underarms, breasts, thighs and buttocks. And with sweat comes body odour.

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