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Suniel Shetty: I dream of making India fitter

Suniel Shetty

Suniel Shetty   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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The 60-year-old Bollywood actor discusses venturing into the online fitness space as an investor with Fittr, and how the understanding of his own body has changed with age

Jitendra Chouksey’s fitness journey started when he was made fun of, for being obese as a child growing up in Kolaha, a village in Madhya Pradesh.

The 33-year-old IT employee-turned-entrepreneur is the brains behind SQUATS, a Pune-based Facebook community that doles out fitness tips to its nearly 5 lakh subscribers. Recently, SQUATS launched their own fitness app, Fittr, which received an undisclosed investment from Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty in May this year.

Chouksey met Shetty through mutual friends around a year ago and the duo realised it had a lot in common to discuss about fitness. Shetty, who, at 60, is one of the fittest film personalities, was then a natural fit to invest in this start-up venture. “We didn’t just want a young popular face; we wanted someone who is fit, a successful person, an entrepreneur who is experienced and who is a great mentor,” says Chouksey.

We asked Shetty to discuss his own fitness and the motivation for investing in Chouksey’s venture. Edited excerpts from an interview:

Why did you invest in SQUATS?

It’s always been my dream to make India fitter, and when I saw change and transformation in people’s lives here, I realised SQUATS is the best place to be. When it comes to wellness, the most difficult part of the journey is convincing yourself and getting ready in the mind... and saying, ‘Yes, I want to see a difference in myself.’

But there’s so much confusion. People could be intimidated by the gym. There will be questions... ‘Where do I start? Who are the right people I should get in touch with? Will the trainer or the dietician suggest the diet?’ Here at Squats, we’ve transformed 70,000 people in the last two years.

Suniel Shetty

Suniel Shetty   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Besides investing, you’ll also be a mentor...

I’m 60 years old and I can see the difference through experience. It’s about eating healthy and being mentally strong. I want to share this experience and knowledge with SQUATS, and help them bring on the right trainers, nutritionists, and more. We are also trying to empower young talent from anywhere in the country to come onboard and train with us.

Do you see a huge market in fitness?

I won’t call it a market; I would call it a major problem area that we need to correct.

Online fitness apps claim they are changing the game. How is this platform different?

One of the main problems for people not being fit is not the food, or the lack of knowledge or exercise; it’s the motivation. It’s the support and the surroundings. So I really want to be around like-minded people who know that being fit is really amazing.

That’s what the Fittr app and this company is all about. We’re using the latest technology to bring that human touch back and bring about behavioural changes. We want to set right habits in people. It is a community of people which is constantly growing and spreading this message of health and well-being.

Suniel Shetty

Suniel Shetty   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Tell us about your own fitness journey.

My journey has been 100% natural. There is no supplement that I have taken in my life. I’ve realised that it’s not all about physical fitness; we have to take control over the mind as well. Being an action hero, there are injuries. But there’s self-recovery — the body heals, and that’s what I believe in.

How has your own understanding of your body and fitness evolved?

I think my journey has evolved around my understanding of yoga, pranayama and stretching. These things help me control my mind. I’m full of positive energy when I am done with my yoga.

I believe that with age you need to start training accordingly. For me, if someone’s over the age of 50, a natural hunch is what disturbs me. So, training is working on those body parts specifically, may be a little more than I used to.

Working on my back and my shoulders so that I am upright and straight; weight training so that my muscles are toned and they don’t spasm, and following the right diet, food, and the right quantity. What I eat in the morning and what I eat at night is definitely nutritious but very different.

Tell us about your diet.

I go low on carbs in the evening and follow a balanced diet throughout the day. I eat everything. I enjoy my food but make sure I am not full when I get up from my meal.

It is very simple when you are disciplined. When days are hard for me, I work out harder, and that is because of my mental fitness. I know I need to do it for myself. When they say ‘21 days makes a habit and 90 days makes a lifestyle’, it’s true. I still do stunts and I play cricket, I know what I need to do to check my fitness naturally.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 1:18:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/suniel-shetty-i-dream-of-making-india-fitter/article28733187.ece

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