Actor and fitness enthusiast Abhinav Shukla blogs on health & fitness

I remember reading a book called Improve Your Health (there was nothing wrong with my health though) when i was in 5th standard, i bought it from a book exhibition which used to take place in Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana where my father was a Professor in Genetics and Biotechnology department. Being son of a scientist had its advantages, whenever you get baffled by something technical and scientific you get an explanation which is simple and logical. Reminds me what Louis Pasteur once said , “Do not proclaim what you cannot explain simply and logically ” (not the exact quote), which literally meant that every phenomenon can be explained in a much simpler way, always.

That book had an deep impact on me, i started wondering about human body and what exactly health meant , also i started working out. That book was a myth buster for me , all the old school adages floating around at that time like :-” if you lift weights when young your height will be stunted” , “lifting weights is bad in long run ” , strenuous workout is harmful ” ” hanging from a bar for 10 mins will increase your height ” were busted.

Back then there was no internet and you had to use your own discretion as to how much you want to trust the author or a book you are reading, as corroborating the facts was a tedious job which involved reading different books on same subject, reading journals of research and so on . So being healthy and fit became a conscious effort and reading about functioning of a human body and exercise philosophy became my passion, by the time i was past my high school.

College time for me was putting all that i had learnt, to use. From a non athlete i became a promising athlete, i started aggressively preparing for 100 mtrs, 200 mtrs , shot put and discus throw in which i was a Gold Medalist for last two years of my college stint. By the time i finished my college i had one record (inter-univ) and at least 15 medals hanging on my bedroom wall and i had read and almost understood a book which was a text book for people pursuing Bachelors in Physical Education.

Post college, now the Internet was in boom, gyms and health magazines were selling the idea of fitness and muscularity like never before, companies had started making big profits on supplements and health aids (ergogenic aids), people were aware of latest researches and techniques, the fitness trainers were certified and lot of non techies were talking about hypertrophy and type 1 and 2 fibres and BCAAA and all that technical talk. There was ever increasing traffic on internet, so many people who wanted to build muscle, get bigger, get ripped and who wanted to try what i call the curse on human race “steroids” .

Worse was yet to catch up, 3G, with 3G came the apps which let you see everything so fancy just by a tap on screen but never tells the whole story behind it. Never has the human generation become so visually motivated, so superficial, misled and so impatient. With ever increasing access to internet and burgeoning cell phone market even a guy sitting in small town or village who rides a rickshaw for living got access to pictures of a guy working out in LA with six pack abs and big muscular arms tossing a hot bikini clad woman around and calling it a workout. Imagine the impact that will have on a simple humble kid, they see it and they want to be like him.

We actors have also set wrong examples by putting dumb muscular pictures of ourselves which obviously are many times not achieved naturally. Many kids looking at us want to be like us, but they unfortunately are born in a time where they have no patience to read, understand, corroborate and simplify the concept of fitness. They want results , asap , becoming overly muscular and flashing biceps and chest working out on some nice rap music and in fancy gym gear has become the thing. The obsession with muscles , biceps , booty (Gluteus Maximus) has acquired dangerous proportions.

The whole concept of fitness has become a mere commercial approach to achieve a desired cosmetic appearance , and trust me it’s very deadline oriented. Just like we have our yearly targets at our jobs, these day kids have targets like 15inch in bicep , 42 inch butt, 6 % body fat etc etc. With no patience to achieve the goal of fitness and ever increasing visually stimulating pictures of models and calendar girls (which are often photoshopped) they can go to any length to achieve not FITNESS but MEASUREMENTS .

Million dollars of research on fitness have given new insight into ingenious ways of screwing around with the most beautiful system on Earth “HUMAN BODY HOMEOSTASIS

From pre workout meal of milk, banana and sweet potato to some weird artificial flavoured NO complex for explosive workout, we have found all ways to screw ourselves up. 90 % of the people who fall prey to this commercial approach of achieving cosmetic body are ones who have recently started working out, are non athletes and often less-read.

Simply and Logically explained: We are all sum up of our genes, our height, BMI , bone structure is predominantly hardwired. Our ability to put on muscle and lose weight or become strong is all genetically decided, all we can do is just honour what we have and remain fit to do so by regular exercise (invention of the contemporary man, exercise is just an imitation of what our forefathers did to procure/gather/hunt food). Relying on a chemical diet and taking too many aids to get a desired Measurement is flawed approach, what you are doing is actually changing the Homeostasis of your body which in long run is detrimental.

Another fact simply explained: Adaptations in body are highly specific to what workout you do, if you only workout in GYM to achieve desired

Measurements, that’s all you get. We have heard so many stories of huge gym guys getting their ass kicked by a lanky MMA guy or a boxer. So being fit and being huge and muscular are two different things, all together.

Health: State of being disease free and ability to use your body.

The changes you achieve in your body by going on an aid like steroid, or by eating some special formulation will remain till the time you keep having that special aid or potion. Make sure you stay natural and only aid you take is good diet and passionate workout.

I would like to thank Bruce Reider author of ‘Sports Medicine -School Age Athlete’, the book has been my bible of fitness.

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