– Yasmin Karachiwala
Yasmin Karachiwala is a fitness expert with more than 25 years of experience in the fitness industry and pioneer of ‘Pilates’ physical fitness system in India. Yasmin has earned the reputation of being the number one celebrity fitness trainer with her clientele enlisting the crème de la crème of Bollywood like Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt to name a few.
Who was your first inspiration and how did you get into fitness?
Nobody really inspired me to get into fitness; I don’t have a first inspiration. The way I got into fitness was completely by fluke. I was forced to join a studio with a friend of mine and stumbled upon an aerobics class. I didn’t know how to do anything. I was stumbling my way through by the end of the class. I was very de-motivated that I decided to keep going back and learn the exercises and kept going back to a point, where my instructor thought I could take the class for her. She encouraged me to do a fitness course or certification in group fitness as I was going to the States; she thought I had the flare for it. At that time no one in India was really certified, everyone used to watch Jane Fonda and teach. So, it was a step that I took unknowingly not knowing that as I learnt more about fitness, I would also fall in love with it and it would something I would do for the rest of my life.
Was celebrity personal training a gradual progression for you or was this something you started out doing?
Celebrity personal training was a gradual progression. I never planned it. I never even imagined that this is what I would be doing one day, it just gradually happened. Kareena Kapoor Khan happened to hear about me from a friend and she became my first celebrity client. She had come to check out what my workouts looked like and that’s how the process began.
You have been a celebrity fitness trainer for a very long time and worked with the biggest names. Tell us about some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced while training a star?
The biggest challenge about training a star is keeping up with their timings and that’s purely because they don’t have a fixed schedule. It’s like every month I ask each of them to give me their schedule so I can plan accordingly other stuff that I need to do. So, I think that that is the most challenging aspect of training a celebrity is that I don’t have a time to plan stuff.
Can you tell us about some of the newest fitness trends that are popular among celebrities these days?
In my opinion, celebrities (the top celebrities) are careful about the workout they do because they know that it’s not a workout for a short period but that they need to do it for the rest of their life, to look the way they do. Hence, they do not get swayed into fitness trends unless they are tried and tested. I know that all the ones that work with me always get my opinion on what I believe in before they would try it out. For me personally whenever there is a trend that comes in, I spend a lot of time researching it before I agree or disagree with it. And I’m not much into fitness trends so I don’t advocate it a lot. I believe in Pilates and there are a lot of new things that have come up such as new machines and new ways to do the same thing. That is what I try out with my clients.
Katrina Kaif and Alia Bhatt are among your top clients and inspire a lot of people. What kind of training sessions you put them through?
Katrina and Alia have very different body types which everyone can see and because of that their workouts are very different. Katrina has been working out for a very long time and she’s very strong. She can do a lot of functional movements and her workouts consist of a lot of strength, functional training and a lot of Pilates. To balance it out we do one day Pilates, one day strength training or functional and she does a lot of cardio as well because cardiovascularly she’s very fit. Alia on the other hand just started working out five years ago. She is also strong but in a very different way from Katrina. Alia is more a Pilates person than a gym person, she enjoys her Pilates and we tend to do a lot of that with her. We do weight training at the gym when I feel that she has the need to build muscle and I want her to be stronger so they both do a balance of both gym and Pilates depending on what the look is and what their goal is, we focus on one more than the other at different phases.
Celebrities often take nutritional supplements, what’s your take on them? Are they necessary according to you to get excellent results?
I am 47 years old and I don’t take any nutritional supplements because I believe in getting nutrition from my food and eating the right kind of food, nuts if required to get all the nutrition that I need and that’s what I suggest to all my celebrity clients. I don’t encourage anyone to take any nutritional supplements and I try to get them to eat more wholesomely.
If you could persuade people to change three things about their diet what would it be?
Three things to I would persuade people to change in their diet is give up sugar, gluten and try to cut down on dairy.
What are some of the most common mistakes people do when it comes to diet?
People love going to different dieticians and nutritionists to get different diets. And I think the most common mistakes people do is that they will take a little bit of an ‘A’ person’s diet and a little from a ‘B’ person’s diet and create their own diet and follow it. And every time you ask them something, they will be like that nutritionists told me this or that one told me that. But they don’t realize that each nutritionist has a reason they pull out a diet. It’s not for us to pick and choose what we like from different people and start our own diet.
What are some easy workout options if you cannot afford a personal trainer?
I’m constantly posting easy workout options on my Instagram. In January 2019 I’m planning to start a YouTube channel just for people to know easy workout options when you cannot afford a personal trainer.
Could you tell us three things you would do if you needed to get in shape very quickly?
There is no quick fix into getting in great shape. The only time that you can do it is if you are in decent shape and you want to tweak it to get into a better shape. Working out is not a destination. It is a journey and I think everyone should understand that.
In your opinion what makes the perfect client to train?
Every client is a perfect client. It’s just that they need the right kind of motivation and that’s what I believe in providing them.
How important is mindset to get results?
Mindset is one of the most important things about fitness which I always tell people. I totally believe that you need to have a very positive mindset, attitude towards life in general, to your body and to yourself. That’s one of the reasons I call my studio body image because we are working on each person’s individuals image, each one for themselves.
What is your favourite exercise?
The ‘Pilates Teaser’ is my favourite exercise and the reason that it is because it was one of the most difficult exercises for me to do when I first started out my Pilates journey. I think it took me a couple of years to actually do it smoothly, with ease and it’s still not easy. It’s still a difficult exercise but it did take me a couple of years to get it right and that’s why it’s my favourite exercise.
What’s the favourite part of your job?
The favourite part about my job is that I get to be bossy, I get to tell people what to do and they have no choice but to listen to me because they’re at my mercy for that hour that they come in. On a serious note the best part about my job is that I get to encourage people to lead a healthier life and to stick to what they set out to do as their goals, I get to help them be fitter, look fitter, get a better body awareness and get more self-worth. A lot of times people walk into the gym and say that they hate exercising and my goal is to make them love exercising, love their body and love how it feels to exercise so these are the things that give me a complete high about my job.
Do you have any plans of expanding branches of your studios in other cities?
I have one studio in Bandra which is my signature studio and I have franchises all over. I have a franchise in kemps corner. I have a franchise coming up in Andheri, I have a franchise in Hyderabad, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in Dubai and we have one in Delhi.
Yasmin is the brainchild behind the personal fitness studio “Yasmin Karachiwala’s Body Image” and is designated as the founder, director and master instructor at the studio. Apart from Basi Pilates, she is also first ever Balanced Body Master Pilates Instructor and Fletcher Pilates instructor in India.