Fit & Fa­mous

She looks fit­ter and sex­ier than ever be­fore. How does Malaika Arora main­tain her beach-ready fig­ure, even at 44? Read on, to find out.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS - VIN­O­DINI KR­ISH­NAKU­MAR

The first time we saw Malaika Arora was on television as a VJ. But it was on ‘MTV Love Line’, a show the leggy lass co­hosted with Cyrus Broacha, that she stole our hearts. She was sexy, sassy and stylish. To­day, two decades later, she’s all that and more… She’s fit­ter, shape­lier and hot­ter than ever be­fore. Like fine wine, Malaika is only get­ting bet­ter with age. What’s the key to her agede­fy­ing looks and her su­per fit bod? In a heart-to-heart with ‘H&N’, the gor­geous beauty spills the beans on what keeps her glow­ing, go­ing and on the top of her game…

Ex­cerpts from the in­ter­view... You wooed peo­ple with your ‘oomph fac­tor’ as a VJ on TV two decades ago. You con­tinue to do so even now - in your dif­fer­ent avatars as an an­chor, model, en­tre­pre­neur, fit­ness en­thu­si­ast and a yummy mummy. What is the se­cret be­hind that mag­i­cal sex ap­peal? (Laughs) There’s no se­cret. I think it’s all about be­ing con­fi­dent – whether it is be­ing body con­fi­dent or just brim­ming with life. I know I’ve been per­ceived by peo­ple in a cer­tain way. And the me­dia loves tag­ging peo­ple - some­one is sexy, some­one is ath­letic. But, yes, hav­ing said that, I’d rather be sexy than plain Jane - it’s far more ex­cit­ing and in­ter­est­ing. And yes, I must say that it all comes from a sense of con­fi­dence – you have it, you own it!

And what is the se­cret be­hind that svelte fig­ure? On a se­ri­ous note, were you al­ways fit­ness con­scious - from the time you started your ca­reer as a VJ and model? I’ve al­ways been a very ac­tive child. I was al­ways into dance and sports and so a healthy life­style was very im­por­tant for both of them. More­over, I’ve al­ways be­lieved that your body is your tem­ple and you should wor­ship it. So yes, I have al­ways been pretty health and fit­ness con­scious.

So, when did you first start proper gym­ming? What was the trig­ger for that? I hit the gym with a vengeance post my son, Arhaan, was born. I only did dance be­fore that, and I used to run as I was an ath­lete. I joined the gym more out of a ne­ces­sity as I felt I needed to drop ki­los that I had gained dur­ing preg­nancy. And I did it in a very or­ganic way; didn’t go crazy. But soon, I started en­joy­ing the process, and dis­cov­ered the many joys of gym­ming. And from then on, there was no turn­ing back...

What kind of an ef­fect be­ing phys­i­cally fit has on you? I feel en­thu­si­as­tic, alive, good about my­self and happy when I work out. When they say your body pro­duces en­dor­phins – happy hor­mones – when you work out, it’s so true. I feel I can do and tackle things with a bet­ter ap­proach and more clar­ity.

So what ex­actly does your fit­ness regime com­prise? Well, it’s a mix of weight train­ing, Pi­lates and yoga. I

dis­cov­ered yoga and Pi­lates late in life. I had a very bad ham­string in­jury while dancing six years ago that pushed me into a di­rec­tion of do­ing some­thing that would heal my in­jury with­out hav­ing to go through any painful process. I also had a very bad lower back is­sue. Of course, I did physio but with yoga and Pi­lates, my aches dis­ap­peared, my strength lev­els im­proved, my pos­ture changed, and my core strength in­creased.

Which form of fit­ness has given you the max­i­mum ben­e­fit? Why? All the three forms of fit­ness help me dif­fer­ently. Since I am a very petite girl, weight train­ing adds def­i­ni­tion to my body and helps builds mus­cles. Pi­lates is all about flex­i­bil­ity and agility. I re­mem­ber read­ing about Pi­lates years ago when Madonna used to do it and I was very fas­ci­nated by it. I re­mem­ber see­ing some of the stuff she had done, and ever since it’s been on my mind. And how­ever much I say about yoga and its ben­e­fits will not be enough. Yoga is a com­plete mind, body and soul ap­proach to wellness.

Tell us about Diva Yoga, your new ven­ture? What was the trig­ger be­hind that? And what is its USP? Ob­vi­ously, my love for yoga was the trig­ger. Sarvesh Shashi from Zorba and the Tal­walkar group ap­proached me with a plan to start a yoga stu­dio ex­clu­sively for women, and I thought it was amaz­ing. I believe in girl power and I wanted to do this for all the won­der­ful women out there. I thought it was the right time to give back to so­ci­ety too. I am look­ing for­ward to open­ing my Diva Yoga stu­dios across the coun­try.

So, tell us more about your con­tri­bu­tion to Diva Yoga? What ex­actly do you do there? I am nei­ther a yoga trainer nor teacher. But yes, right from choos­ing the colour of the stu­dio to the num­ber of train­ers, to the mu­sic in the class to what will be taught in the ses­sions, I will be look­ing into ev­ery­thing. I want to de­vise a pro­gram that is not too hec­tic, and suited to an in­di­vid­ual’s body type and ca­pa­bil­i­ties. We will have trained yoga in­struc­tors, and our first flag­ship stu­dio will be in Ban­dra, which will be fol­lowed by five more stu­dios in Mum­bai be­fore reach­ing out to cities across the coun­try.

How health con­scious are you when it comes to food? I am a foodie by na­ture. I love food but I’ve never been some­one who binges or fol­lows ridicu­lous di­ets. I’ve al­ways eaten well and whole­some. I come from a half South In­dian and half Pun­jabi fam­ily. Be­ing

a half South In­dian, I live, breathe and eat rice. Rice and fish are a sta­ple but I also love my ro­tis and the North In­dian style of cook­ing. But yes, one thing’s for sure; I will not en­cour­age or even cook un­healthy and

junk food in the house. And even if I make it, I will find a healthy op­tion to it. Junk and fad di­ets are a com­plete no-no for me.

So, what is a nor­mal day for you like? I am an early riser as I am in bed by 10-10.30 p.m. I start my day with a spoon­ful of ghee, fol­lowed by a glass of warm wa­ter with lime. I see my son off to school, and then head off to work. If I am not work­ing, I head off to the gym. I am a clean­li­ness freak, and keep find­ing some­thing or the other in the house to tidy up. Oth­er­wise, I am pretty much a home body; I love spend­ing time with my son, friends, fam­ily etc.

How im­por­tant do you think is emo­tional health for over­all wellness? And what do you do to keep your emo­tional health in ship­shape? Emo­tional sta­bil­ity and health are very im­por­tant. I am not a very anx­ious per­son by na­ture but I guess we are in a pro­fes­sion where stress lev­els can be very high. There’s also so much scru­tiny around you all the time, which can be stress­ful. Ev­ery time I felt my per­sonal life was go­ing through a low and I needed to pull my­self to­gether emo­tion­ally, yoga has helped me a lot. I turned to yoga to keep my san­ity and get clar­ity. Med­i­ta­tion, of course, helps a great deal. And so does hav­ing a good sup­port sys­tem; I have a great set of friends who are my back­bone and look out for me. But at the end of the day, self-help is the best help.

Talk­ing about your per­sonal life, you’ve been through a di­vorce, and a di­vorce is never easy... How did you cope with it and keep your­self emo­tion­ally strong through it all? Well, ev­ery­one is aware of what has hap­pened and I don’t want to talk about it much. But one thing I def­i­nitely want to say is that I feel very bad and sad that

we live in a coun­try where the gen­eral pub­lic looks down upon women who make cer­tain choices in their life. And when I say choices, I mean in­de­pen­dent choices – whether it’s a di­vorce or sep­a­ra­tion or be­ing a work­ing mother or dress­ing a cer­tain way. I find that very hard to di­gest; I wish some­where that men­tal­ity would change in our coun­try. Be­cause at the end of the day, how is the woman who is sep­a­rated or di­vorced any dif­fer­ent from the woman who is mar­ried or sin­gle? And for some­one to sit out there and point a fin­ger and form an opin­ion is down­right ou­tra­geous and hor­ri­ble. I am an in­de­pen­dent woman who can make her own choices with­out hav­ing to bow down to ridicu­lous so­ci­ety pres­sures. I think I man­age to strad­dle ev­ery as­pect of my life – whether it is be­ing a mother (I think I am a fan­tas­tic mother), a sis­ter, a daugh­ter, or a work­ing woman – with a lot of love, af­fec­tion, dig­nity and re­spect. I have al­ways lived life on my terms, and will con­tinue to do so. And I would like more women to come out and speak about it as op­posed to those who don’t. I would be ly­ing if I said I didn’t have my low days where I was not able to even pull my­self out of my bed. But what kept me go­ing was my be­lief that I was a strong woman. I also knew I have a son who I have to be there for and in­still the right val­ues in. I had to make sure I would never let him see me low or un­able to cope with a par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion. As par­ents, we have to rise above our sit­u­a­tions, and that’s ex­actly what I did.

Would you like to give any ad­vice for all those go­ing through a breakup or sep­a­ra­tion in a re­la­tion­ship? Ev­ery­body’s prob­lems and is­sues are dif­fer­ent. All I can say is you’ve got to stand by your choices – whether it’s your ca­reer, a di­vorce or sep­a­ra­tion, or what­ever path you take. Do it with your head held high and don’t let any­one pull you down or make you feel less as a per­son.

How’s it be­ing a sin­gle mom to your son Arhaan now? It is a chal­lenge. Def­i­nitely, be­ing a sin­gle mom has its tri­als and tribu­la­tions and up and downs. But let me just put it this way that ev­ery day is a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me. I am lit­er­ally learn­ing on the job. I make mis­takes, cor­rect them, and try and im­prove on them… But at the end of the day, I know that you just have to be a very grounded fig­ure in your child’s life.

What are the par­ent­ing mantras you strongly believe in? For me, the most im­por­tant mantra where my son is con­cerned is: Be your child’s friend. The more you be­friend them, hear them, the bet­ter for both of you. I am a very strict mother but I feel if my child is able to come and tell me what­ever is on his mind – good, bad and ugly – then I have done some­thing right.

Be­ing a star kid brings with it its own set of pres­sures. How does Arhaan cope with star­dom and the spot­light on his par­ents all the time? Arhaan is born and brought up in a fam­ily where ev­ery­one is into films. He has grown up in this at­mos­phere. So it’s not new to him. But yes, I think we, as par­ents, have done a fairly good job of keep­ing him away from the spot­light. I mean we are not hid­ing him as such but we try to keep him low pro­file. There’s a time and place for ev­ery­thing.

How much of an in­flu­ence you’ve been on him as far as your health and fit­ness val­ues are con­cerned? I am glad my health val­ues rub off on him as well. Not just my child, I have a ten­dency to in­flu­ence all around me… I look at it this way, if you give your child junk, they’d grab it. But if you tell them the pros and cons, they’ll know to make wise choices. My son knows un­nec­es­sary junk will lead to dif­fi­cul­ties when he grows up. Chil­dren are like sponges, you in­tro­duce a good healthy life­style to them early in life, and they’ll fol­low that.

An en­tre­pre­neur, TV per­son­al­ity, a hands-on mom – how do you jug­gle the var­ied roles you play? I think the jug­gle doesn’t feel that dif­fi­cult when you are fo­cused, love what you do and have a great sup­port sys­tem to back you up when­ever you need them. Yes, some­times you feel that you have a lot on your plate and not enough hours in the day to fin­ish them all, but with proper time man­age­ment, it all gets done. My role as a mother is first and fore­most and I am blessed that my son un­der­stands my work sched­ule and is sup­port­ive of it.

In good times: Malaika & Arbaaz

With son Arhaan & Arbaaz

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