Namrata Purohit, Pilates trainer and author of The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Being Fit, talks about celeb clients, busts myths, decodes Pilates, and reveals her fitness mantra
Words Samreen Khoja
Celebrity Pilates instructor Namrata Purohit found her calling at the age of 16, and it all started with a fall. For someone who has always been a sports enthusiast, a knee injury at 15 after a fall from a horse almost brought her squash career to an end. Namrata has since then emerged as the Pilates queen and became one of the youngest trained Stott Pilates instructors in the world.
Describing her journey that began almost 10 years ago Namrata says, “My journey has been incredible and there have been new learning’s every single day. My whole journey started with a fall and literally fell into the lap of Pilates. Every cloud has a silver lining, and the silver lining of my fall was stumbling upon Pilates and being able to experience it. It is the most magical form of exercise, it is what healed me and got me back to full form. It started with me experiencing it for myself and then realising that I wanted to share this form of exercise with people. This is when I started a little studio in Mumbai. People could really see the transformation, not just physically, but mentally too. They felt better and healthier.”
Namrata has a huge clientele including celebrities like Kareena Kapoor Khan, Janhvi Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan, Malaika Arora, Varun Dhawan and Arjun Kapoor among others. These actors often have to gain/lose weight depending on their roles and Namrata doesn’t find this challenging at all. “Initially I thought that it would be challenging, but celebrities are very focused and dedicated and that makes it easy. They have limited amount of time but big goals to achieve, they never miss a session, always eat right. There are days where we are working out on different things, innovating and always trying to modify. With them being dedicated, half my job is done there,” says Namrata.
SETTING THE TREND
When Namrata started Pilates almost ten years ago, it was unheard of in India. Now, Pilates has become a trend. “I think in this fast paced world people are looking to connect their mind and body at the same time, and doing these forms of exercises really helps you to go deep into your own self. Not only are you working on yourself physically but also mentally. While it is challenging, it is also calming. While it builds muscle it relaxes the mind. It think it’s a great combination offering best of both worlds that you are getting in these exercises that are drawing people to it. These forms of exercises are customised for your needs, your body type, your goals and keeping all your health conditions and aspirations in mind. So I think it is the overall development of the mind and body that is drawing people to Pilates,” asserts Namrata.
“What sets Pilates apart is that no two sessions are the same. It is customised according to the needs of the body. It is a mind-body form of exercise. So you are working on all aspects of fitness- strength, mobility, stability, balance, endurance and flexibility,” she added.
“Before taking up Pilates, one should go in for a session with a clear head and no pre-conceived notions. It is very important to trust your trainer in the journey and listen to what they say. So in your first session I would say that understand your form, understand the training method and then start performing.”
STAYING FIT IN A PANDEMIC
The pandemic helped us realise that we can work out anywhere and can find time to stretch no matter how busy life gets. “Theoretically, everybody knew this already, but the pandemic made people actually start doing it. It has brought people to the realisation that there is a lot that they can do with their body even if they are confined to the comforts of their home. It has made people aware of their health and about what is important to do in life. People started taking out those 45 mins during the lockdown for their work out because they did not have to go anywhere. After things have opened up, we have a lot more people who want to come to the studio and get into the exercise regime because they want to continue living a healthy lifestyle,” says Namrata.
According to Namrata, creating awareness and breaking the myths surrounding Pilates were the biggest challenges. Here, she busts some common myths for us:
Myth: Pilates is slow
Fact: Yes there are controlled movements. The focus is on connecting the mind and body, but it is not a slow form of exercise.
Myth: Pilates is all about flexibility
Fact: Pilates does work on building flexibility and building lean, long muscles. It also works on building core, muscular strength and endurance as well. Pilates is a full body exercise regime and is just not about stretching.
Myth: Pilates is only for women
Fact: Pilates was actually started by a man called Joseph Pilates for men. And then it was used for ballet and contemporary dancers, but men all over the world do Pilates and in fact I would go to the extent and say that men really need it. It is for both, men and women.
For Namrata, fitness is all about having a fit body, mind and lifestyle in all aspects. “I do Pilates 4-5 times a week, I do electro muscle simulation once a week and I also play squash or go for horse riding or dance which is usually my form of cardio. For me it is all about leading a healthy lifestyle and eating nutritious meals. Usually I eat 3 main meals which is breakfast lunch dinner. And I have two meals in between. Breakfast: Moong dal chilla, fruits. And around 10-11 am, I will have a ladoo which my mom makes at home. Lunch: Dal, sabzi, jawar rotis, salad. 5 pm- chickpeas, humus or avocado. Dinner is usually soups.”
For the wellness of human beings and compassion for the planet, Namrata Purohit recently launched her eco-conscious community: The Earth Circle-a website that promotes eco-conscious living through an exchange of ideas, tips and information. “I have always been earth conscious. I think people do want to make a difference and be kinder to the earth but sometimes you don’t know what more you can do. So that is where the Earth Circle came about. I made these small changes over time and my friends started asking about them, and that’s when I realised that maybe I should have a place where I can list out the changes I have made so that more people get inspired. The tag line of earth circle is one person, one choice, one change at a time. For instance, switching from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo one, you can still brush, it doesn’t change that. But it changes the impact you have on the environment. Earth Circle is a non-judgmental space, we are all on a journey, but the point is to try your best,” explains Namrata.
Namrata, who authored ‘The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Being Fit’, is considering writing another book. “After writing my first book, I took a break was because I was still wrapping my head around the fitness regime and still gaining knowledge. And the reason I didn’t write another book is because I felt that I wanted to learn more through observation. Maybe there will be another book at some point,” she says.
She concludes by saying that everyone needs to be mindful when making choices, because it is now or never when it comes to loving our body and environment.
ORIGIN OF PILATES
Pilates takes its name from Joseph Pilates. A German-born emigré to Britain and then America, he devised the Pilates method as a new approach to exercise and body-conditioning in the early decades of the last century. His method included the use of equipment referred to by him as: apparatus. Perhaps the best known piece of equipment, is the Pilates reformer.