Towards A Healthier Mumbai

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Many trends face the sword on the road to getting (and staying) fit. Some fall by the wayside, while others go down in history. The Health & Fitness Team brings you some of the best of 2015

Barely a month goes by without a new health and wellness trend popping up. While some make waves, others create a few ripples and eventually disappear. The Health & Fitness Team rounds up the best nutrition and fitness trends that caught our eye in 2015 and tells you more about a few exciting ones that you should try this year.

Interactive fitness on TV
Interactive fitness has been popular for quite a while now — it comes in the form of fitness videos and DVDs. However, 2015 saw fitness workouts entering our homes through television — Tata Sky’s Active Fitness is an example here. Launched only a few months ago, the subscription service offers a range of videos. With workouts such as capoeira (a Brazilian martial art), Kalaripayattu (a martial arts form started in Kerala) and other lesser known fitness routines, it’s an exciting service.

A few years ago, no one would have imagined leaving their nutritional plans to a smartphone application, but how times have changed! myDIETist, started by husband and wife, Rishit and Prachi Sanghvi, is a personal diet assistant that aims to help you eat healthy. It uses a proprietary algorithm to draw up a personalised nutrition plan, which takes into account your gender, body statistics, dietary preferences and fitness aspirations. We’re pleased that basic services are available free of cost, with an option to go premium, which allows you to get in touch with their team of nutritionists.

Coconut sugar and coconut flour
Coconut sugar and coconut flour are the latest alternatives to regular sugar and flour. Since they are considered healthier than the usual refined versions, sales  have been on the rise in the city. Kanchan Patwardhan, clinical nutritionist consultant at Kanchan’s House of Health & Nutrition and Arogya Hospital, tells us, “Coconut sugar is made from sap, which is extracted from the coconut tree. And, pure coconut palm sugar tastes similar to brown sugar.” While it’s seen as a healthier option to regular sugar, Kanchan warns, “ Just like any sugar, consuming coconut sugar in excess is unhealthy. However, it does contain small amounts of iron, zinc, calcium and potassium.” Coconut flour, on the other hand, is made from dried coconut and includes coconut oil, dietary fibre, water, protein and carbohydrate. She adds, “Coconut flour is gluten-free and hypoallergenic.”If you’re wondering where to pick it up, Kanchan says, “Both coconut sugar and coconut flour are niche products, so they are available at organic grocery stores and online.”

Early morning fitness party
2015 saw the first early morning fitness party in India with DawnTrekker organised by, hosting dance, Zumba, body combat and yoga sessions for fitness enthusiasts at Radio Bar in Khar. Early morning fitness parties have been trending across the world with gyms collaborating with nightclubs and other party venues to offer a healthy, fun experience. Interestingly, just like any other party, morning fitness parties serve drinks and bites as well (with your health in mind, of course) such as protein bars, green tea and healthy fruit and vegetable juices. Harshit Sethy, co-founder and CTO at GymTrekker, tells us, “People often complain that they don’t have the time to work out, so an early morning party completes your quota of fitness and also gives you time to focus on other priorities. It’s also  engaging, fun and helps you socialise.” If you’d like to join an early morning fitness party, watch out for DawnTrekker, which will be featured regularly in Mumbai as well as 15 other cities.

Yoga galleries and cafés in the city
Routine yoga classes are a thing of the past — 2015 saw a number of yoga centres offer something more than just regular yoga sessions. Several yoga studios hosted health and lifestyle events. For example, The Yoga Loft recently organised a fashion pop-up, featuring clothes and accessories. Sunaina Rekhi, founder of The Yoga Gallery, a yoga studio, says, “The idea behind a health café or popups at a yoga centre is that we want to engage with people in different ways. We want to create a one-stop shop that includes meditation, yoga, healing arts and healthy food. If you eat a healthy breakfast after a yoga session, your mind will automatically feel more relaxed. This is what we want our clients to experience.”

Certified coach portals
Aiming to provide expert coaches for children who enjoy sports, The Coach Crew kicked off in May 2015. They connect you with coaches for several sports including football, basketball, tennis, judo and chess, and will soon be expanding to include more options. Their website allows you to pick a coach online, making the process easier as well as user-friendly. Divesh Nathani, co-founder of The Coach Crew, tells us, “The response has been encouraging, as parents and users are finding value in our efforts to provide them with a coach of their need and to suit their requirement. We have even sourced coaches for sports that aren’t on our portal yet.” But, is it a trend already or does it have a way to go? Mansi Bhageria, who recently used their services, tells us,“I contacted The Coach Crew because there was no other place to find a good sports trainer. They are more than just an online service — they are also a link between students and coaches, which has been missing all this while.”

Hasn’t spinning been a trend for quite some time now? Yes, but surprisingly, it made its way to Mumbai only in 2015, when Revolution opened up in the city. Spinning is a cardio (mostly aerobic) workout set to music and led by a certified instructor. Classes range from 40 to 60 minutes, but some studios offer beginner or intro classes that may be shorter. The exercise is great for people who want a motivating workout that they can control at their own pace. Annie Khan, founder of Revolution, tells us, “Our classes at Revolution are different, and I’m not just saying this — we make sure not to have two of the same days. It’s always a different routine with different music. We want to keep things lively and exciting.”

Charcoal cleanse
As strange as the concept sounds, drinking (or taking capsules of ) activated charcoal has been the detox du jour this year. Charcoal isn’t absorbed by the body — it clings to the poisons and toxins so that your body doesn’t soak them up. That’s the beauty of this trend and the reason charcoal is in all of our cleansers. Activated charcoal is essentially negatively-charged carbon that’s treated with oxygen to create a “magnet” for positively charged toxins in your body. Kanchan Patwardhan, nutritionist and dietician, tells us, “The idea behind consuming activated charcoal is to help detoxify your body.” It may be a trend, but is it really that necessary? Well, no. Kanchan explains, “Our bodies are naturally equipped to perform detoxifying actions. So, if you simply eat well and exercise regularly, half your problems will be solved.

Hybrid workouts
The one constant in the world of fitness is the hunt for that one workout that offers the perfect balance between exercise and motivation. This year, this manifested in the form of dances, with a number of hybrid workouts that offer a cardio routine set to the energising beats. Masala Bhangra was big this year. When Sarina Jain created the routine, she barely had any idea that it would be accepted at a global level. The high-intensity routine combines energetic Bhangra moves with contemporary Bollywood dance steps in which participants can burn up to 500 calories per workout. Riddhi Gupta, brand ambassador for the routine, tells us, “The upbeat music spreads positivity and increases the level of energy in the room.” Meanwhile, Zumba, a hybrid workout (of sorts) itself, inspired several new programmes. There was Aqua Zumba and Zumba Toning, which promised additional calories burned coupled with strength training. There are even Zumba classes for kids! Sucheta Pal, India’s first Zumba Education Specialist (ZES) and master trainer, says, “The plus point of Zumba is that it doesn’t cater to just one age group. Anyone who wishes to work up sweat can join!”

Online workouts
Staying connected, it seems, transcends our need to simply share interests and leisure experiences. And, it was inevitable that technology would eventually creep  into the realm of fitness. A plethora of applications and websites help in this regard, with workout routine suggestions and platforms to share fitness results. Some even allow users to come together in the real world for fitness meet-ups. Komal Lath, owner of Tute Consult, a communications consultancy, tells us how fitness applications have helped her. She says, “I use the free HealthifyMe application, which requires you to key in a goal and record everything you eat. I now know what’s working for me and what isn’t. I also use the Nike+ running one whenever I go for walks and a paid app called ABS, which is phenomenal!” For copywriter Donato Pavrey, who normally browses for endurance and fitness workouts online, it’s all about like-minded people coming together. He says, “I won’t call myself a ‘fitness freak’, but the online community that you belong to helps you exercise in any form — from taking up a sport to pure weightlifting. ‘Have fun while you get fit’ — if you need to sum it up in one sentence.”

Balance board workouts
2015 also saw quite a few innovative workout routines come to India, one of which involves working out on a balance board. In the case of Surfset, you use a surfboard, but there’s no salty water or sea breeze to get in the way. Their method combines elements of aerobic fat burning, building lean muscle, and balance and core training, with a heavy focus on core strength training. Sessions with a certified instructor last for 45 minutes and cost about Rs 3,000 a month! It’s only offered at one studio in Mumbai, located in Santacruz, but the good news is that more outlets are being readied for launch in 2016. Zahabia Calcuttawala who attends Surfset classes three times a week, tells us, “Surfset offers a very balanced workout, which involves core strengthening, cardio and balance. It’s not a regular workout session — it challenges your body in new ways. Every class is motivational and the trainers are really helpful.”

Gym passes
If you’ve been through several gym memberships, you’ll know that they can be expensive. Thankfully, a few services allow you to cut down on these expenses, while infusing more variety into your routine. Fiticket is one such service. The application bills itself as a new kind of fitness membership and connects you with a variety of exercise activities including Zumba, yoga and MMA. There are over 20,000 activities in over 600 locations around the city to choose from. Another tool to use is ClassVerse, a membership-based service that connects you to more than 60,000 classes in over 1,200 studios in the country. For a fee, you have access to fitness and dance classes, gyms, studios and trainers, so you can choose to hit the gym one day and practice yoga the next.

Customised workouts
Customised health, in the form of diet plans or workouts, seems to be quite the rage. And, another service that got underway this year was RobusFit, a functional fitness training programme, which combines cardio with strength, core and flexibility training. Vinay Sharma, creator of the RobusFit programme, tells us, “RobusFit works around your body’s centre of gravity and strengthens your core while increasing flexibility and burning more fat. Rather than being flashy or confusing, RobusFit is one of the simplest functional fitness training programs.” However, like Surfset, RobusFit is only offered at one studio, Zest4life, in Andheri. A session lasts for 60 minutes and the price varies from Rs 4,000 to Rs 7,000 per month.

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