INTERVIEWEE - Yasmin Karachiwala, celebrity trainer, Basi certified Pilates instructor
As a thousand sighs follow the movement of a Bollywood actress on the screen as she dances effortlessly, not an ounce of fat visible in the skimpily clad splendour, a question running through every mind – What does she eat? What kind of a workout must she be doing to look like an incarnation of Venus? Meet one such sculptor – Yasmin Karachiwala, celebrity trainer, Basi certified Pilates instructor, Balanced Body master instructor, owner of Yasmin's Body Image and the force behind the hourglass shapes of Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Vaani Kapoor and many more.
The list is long and impressive.
Looking every bit toned just like her celebrity clients, Yasmin exudes a friendly and professional persona as she meets Shilpa Jasani and Yoga & Wellness team. Meticulously explaining her journey and vision for the newly opened PAD (Pilate and Dance) studio on the 9th floor of Onyx Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road, Yasmin says: “This new venture is in partnership with my niece Shazia Qureishi. Fitness has always been my forte and I am constantly value adding to my knowledge and learning. While I am a trained Basi certified Pilates instructor, I was recently invited to train in the Fletcher system of Pilate workout. Fletcher is a tough, comprehensive and definitive international Pilates educational program of its kind. This system was developed by Ron Fletcher, a student of Josef Pilates (the founding father of Pilates). At this studio, we will be offering Balance Body program, Fletcher Pilate and Dance through our trained instructors. In order to maintain integrity to our course, we are very selective in giving teacher’s training certificate, ensuring not just the number of hours clocked but also the knowledge imbibed. Our Dubai franchise (which incidentally is one among the four already launched, with 3 more scheduled to be launched quite soon) will be run by trained instructors.”
Pilates in the layman’s language is the perfect combination of strength training and yoga, explains Yasmin. Every exercise in the pilates repertoire has strength and stretch element.For the strength training on the mat, the body weight is used, while on the machines, the person uses spring resistance. The science is very similar to yoga. Just like in Yoga, Pilates lays great emphasis on breath. On the mat, the exercises look similar to yoga but their execution is different. So, for example yoga has ‘Halasan’, which would be a rollover for a person doing Pilates so while both are the same exercises, they are executed differently. To the question, which is better? Yasmin candidly replies: “Both have their benefits. So when someone asks me – shall I do yoga or pilates? I always say, ‘Do what your body requires and your mind wants. Essentially people should enjoy their exercise regimen.”
Counting sportsmen, Bollywood actors, students and housewives as her clients, Yasmin says: “My youngest student is an 8-year old and oldest client is 85. Pilates can be done by anyone –male or female, between between the ages 8 to 100. Our mantra is whatever profession you are in you will work better if you practice pilates – whether a housewife, fitness enthusiast, actor, athlete or even working as house help, our exercises work towards a combination of rotation with flexion (which means action of bending the limb or joint). Pilates also adds symmetry to the body, balances the imbalances, develops form, core strength and flexibility. ‘My mantra is that pilates nourishes the body to function better through mindful movement. We have recently added circuit classes in our studio for groups of 4 to 15.”
Joseph Pilates would always say ‘you are as young as your spine is flexible’ adding that ’with 10 sessions of pilates, you will feel the difference, with 20 sessions one can see the difference and with 30 sessions, you will have a new body’.
Replying to a question whether pilates could be considered a complete exercise, or would be needed to be supplemented with either weight training or cardiovascular workouts or aerobic exercises? Yasmin replied: “I always work with people’s goals. If your goal is fitness, or stay strong and flexible, then pilates by itself is great. However, if the goal is shedding large amount of weight, then it will need to be supplemented with cardio workouts to burn calories as well.”
The trainers will be fully trained before being sent to Dubai. “I will attend special occasions like introducing new equipment or course and conduct my personal one-on-one sessions then. Since we already have 4 different franchises and are in the process of launching 3 more, so it would not be practical to be visit all of them too often,” says the fitness Guru.
The mutual respect Yasmin shares with her celebrity clients is quite evident, since she does not make house calls and all her clients come to her studio for their work out. Since this is a policy decision that she adheres to strictly, she has had to politely refuse the billionaire Indian industrialist family Ambani's or even superstar Hritik Roshan’s request for training in their residences.
“I don’t see myself as a celebrity or celebrity trainer, rather someone who would like to do a sincere job, work wholeheartedly and constantly value-add to my knowledge. You see, its very easy to drown in your own fame. I always feel that I am a drop in the ocean and I still have so much to learn. One should always invest in themselves,” she added. “I love my work and therefore have no complaints even if I am working weekends. There have been times when I have gone to the studio at midnight, sometimes have had to leave from a party which I was hosting myself, when such a celebrity client walks in for their workout. But I look at it this way, the commitment of these filmstars, who are willing to work out after a full day of hectic shooting schedule is commendable. I love training them because they are so passionate about it. Katrina Kaif trains every day including Sundays, while Alia Bhatt comes for her workout when ever she is in Mumbai and her work schedules permit it. Similar is the case with other actresses including Deepika Padukone.”
Since Yasmin works with multiple celebrities, has she ever got into a balancing fix? “What has worked for me is that these celebrities respect my time, as I respect their position. If I am working with one filmstar, the next one that schedules an appointment will need to respect that their appointment cannot overlap with anyone else, despite time constraints.”
Usually Pilates classes are frequented by women, does this mean that pilates is more suited to women’s bodies? “You know pilates was invented by a man for wounded soldiers during World War 1 to help them function better. It was 8 years later that on relocating to the USA, that Joseph Pilates started a studio where dancers started coming for training. In our studio in Mumbai, many men come for a pilates workout, so I would say pilates is suitable for men, women and young boys and girls too. In our Dubai studio, along with Fletcher pilates, we are also offering dance classes, parents and kids dance classes, and post-natal movement sessions and workshops for professionals on weekends.”
At the Vogue Beauty Awards 2018, Katrina Kaif received the Fitspiration of the Year award. In her speech she acknowledged: “Fitness for me is also about taking care of myself. I have [met] some amazing people who’ve been with me for the past few years, who have been tirelessly with me on this journey, mainly Yasmin Karachiwala at Body Image. Every day when I go there, they are so supportive. When you see the same person every day for over a decade, sometimes you can get a little bit bored of them, but they have this inspiration and excitement that we’re going to do something new today. So, a big thank you to Yasmin Karachiwala and the whole Body Image team who every day are just there with me, supporting me on this journey.”
My frequent trips to the USA for my own training, often prompts Alia Bhatt to quip: “I am sure you are having an affair Yasmin!! Who travels to the US so often? And what is it that you are travelling so much to learn further?
Deepika wanted me to accompany her to Cannes, but I was not able to go since I was in the USA for my own training. When she was shooting for xXx: Return of Xander Cage, I connected her with a trainer from Canada, who flew down and stayed with Deepika for 6 months to help her workout.
Group Pilates (prices from AED 70 per class)
Equipment Pilates (from AED 120 per class)
Private & Semi-Private Pilates (from AED 210 per class)
Dance Classes and weekend workshops (from AED 70 per class)
PAD Pack (from AED 999 Per month)
Parents and Kids Classes (from AED 110 per class)
Post Natal Movement Classes (from AED 110 per class)
Sol Mi Do/Music Together (early childhood music and movement program from AED 120 per class)
Connect on Instagram: @ThePADDXB
Yasmin Karachiwala has franchises in:
New franchises coming up soon in:
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