Rac­ing thRough the day

For Aye­sha Bil­limo­ria, fit­ness train­ing is a full-time job, so is keep­ing the dream of com­pet­ing at the Olympics alive for fif­teen years and work­ing con­stantly to re­alise it

India Today - - COVER STORY - By as­mita Bak­shi

What no one tells you about the city that never sleeps, is that Mum­bai is ac­tu­ally in a state of sus­pended slum­ber early in the morn­ing. The roads are rel­a­tively empty, the loud orches­tra of horns and sirens from the night be­fore now func­tion at deci­bel lev­els that per­mit the eas­ing of frowns and get­ting to Arts in Mo­tion dance stu­dio in Bandra at 6.30 am isn’t quite as dif­fi­cult as it would be at any other time of the day. That’s where ath­lete, fit­ness trainer and Adi­das am­bas­sador Aye­sha Bil­limo­ria, 30, be­gins her Wed­nes­day morn­ings. As the rest of the city rubs the sleep out of its eyes, she trains a group of 20 women to thump­ing mu­sic, mak­ing them do ev­ery­thing from planks on an­other’s down­ward dog to in­ter­est­ing vari­a­tions of ta­ble top crunches. The ex­hil­a­ra­tion in the air is pal­pa­ble, as are Bil­limo­ria’s in­struc­tive words of ad­vice on form and mo­ti­va­tion. And not only does she mo­ti­vate those 20 or so women in the stu­dio, she also si­mul­ta­ne­ously mo­ti­vates close to 20,000 fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram to get up and work out, by post­ing up­dates, sto­ries, live videos and pic­tures on her han­dle Fit­girl.In­dia.

As we get into the cab at 8 am sharp af­ter her class, head­ing to her home-cum-train­ing cen­tre in Grant Road, where she

takes per­sonal train­ing ses­sions be­tween nine and noon, Bil­limo­ria rec­ol­lects her days as a young ath­lete, while munch­ing on a Yoga Bar. “I eat ev­ery­thing, I some­times eat junk also be­cause your body does crave that,” she says. She was a three-time na­tional cham­pion in the 400-me­tre sprint and it con­tin­ues to be her dream to com­pete in the Olympics one day. A se­ries of ter­ri­ble train­ers and in­juries have de­terred her phys­i­cally over the years, but men­tally she is de­ter­mined to still make it.

“When I signed with Adi­das, I got the con­fi­dence to get back on the track and 2018 will be my big come­back here,” she says. Gear­ing up to rep­re­sent Adi­das in the 10 km race in Berlin, she re­mem­bers how she re­cently com­pleted a 10 km race in Dubai even though she was re­cov­er­ing from Chick­u­gunya. When we reach her quintessen­tially-Par­siSouth Mum­bai home, we climb up a spi­ral stair­case, where her next stu­dent has al­ready ar­rived. Bil­limo­ria clears her room, rolls out the ex­er­cise mat, cre­ates a bar­bell with a bam­boo stick and two sand bags; and with two blocks and a ket­tle­bell, her very own home-gym and fit­ness cen­tre is ready. While pe­ri­od­i­cally eat­ing spoon­fuls of pomegranate, she traipses around the room en­sur­ing her client has per­fect form while ex­e­cut­ing the listed ex­er­cises for the day. Her book­shelf on one side of the room has a va­ri­ety of reads from Mu­rakami to Usain Bolt bi­ogra­phies; Whole­some Kitchen by

Pooja Dhin­gra sits on the top shelf along­side Di­ary of a Whimpy Kid. On the ad­ja­cent wall is her dress­ing ta­ble, with a cal­en­dar photo of Bil­limo­ria atop it, her cropped hair a blaz­ing pink, pos­ing in a stud farm in Pune. The ta­ble it­self has her lap­top hooked to speak­ers, the up­beat track set­ting the mood for the class that is un­der­way. Bil­limo­ria fi­nally gets some respite at 12.30 pm, af­ter three hours of back to back home ses­sions. Her sis­ter, Bi­naifer has picked up her two-and-ahalf year-old daugh­ter from school, and Bil­limo­ria, ex­hausted but ded­i­cated, takes a quick shower, while her niece naps in the next room. Bi­naifer tells us of Bil­limo­ria’s love for Crime Pa­trol and how she, her­self once an ath­lete has signed up for the #100DaysOfRun­ning chal­lenge with Adi­das on her sis­ter’s re­quest. The lat­ter joins us for lunch soon af­ter— we’re eat­ing Chi­nese sit­ting in a room dec­o­rated with her many medals, tro­phies and a poster of Dil Toh

Pa­gal Hai (her father is a Mad­huri Dixit fan and she a huge ad­mirer of SRK). “In­dia is not the place to be for an ath­lete, un­for­tu­nately most coaches are men,” says Bil­limo­ria. She as­serts the im­por­tance of peo­ple learn­ing that run­ning and train­ing well is im­por­tant. Af­ter lunch, she takes a one-hour nap and then gets ready to re­sume her fit­ness rit­u­als. She heads over to Priya Darshni Park for a run at 4 pm and then to con­duct train­ing ses­sions for school chil­dren be­tween

5 pm and 7 pm. With that, she fi­nally wraps up her day.

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