If there was one actor who could easily claim the title to be being the most fit in Hindi cinema, the hands down winner would have to be Hrithik Roshan. Known for his perfectly chiseled body, there is a lot that goes into what we see on screen. When I catch up with him in person for this exclusive tête-à-tête, I immediately notice a sense of calm on his face. His all white costume however has nothing to do with it. He just seems so content and at peace with himself, that this conversation feels like a breeze. In Bangalore to flag off the #RUNWITHMI marathon powered by the Mi Band – HRX Edition, the person behind the persona reveals his fitness mantra and more. Excerpts.
Tell us about your daily fitness regimen?
To be honest my fitness regimen depends on my current goal and is determined by the kind of role I am doing. So sometimes I can take it easy and that means half an hour of cardio and stretches in the morning and an hour of weight training in the evening. That is something I do as a matter of routine.
Why is fitness so important in your life?
Simply put, the one thing that you truly own is your body and it is that God given platform that you can use to develop your skills, values and what you want to do in life. It helps you inculcate and develop skills, discipline, values, consistency, push your extreme and realize your natural potential. Once you realize it in your body then you can easily apply that in what you do in your daily life, as you will have a pattern set in your mind and then you simply apply and it will guarantee you success. So for me, fitness is all about developing mental values and manifesting those physically – if you are fitter, then you are healthier and your brain will work better and it is a rhetoric that you will swear by. This is something that fitness enthusiasts talk about, but for me I felt it was not enough for only me to talk about it rather I should have a symbol that is larger than the individual. In fact I also look up to that symbol and that is HRX and through HRX I propagate fitness to make a fitter India. There is a lot I want to do and from what was a seed, just an idea in my mind to see it flying now is overwhelming. I want everyone to realize that happiness is only becoming the best version of you and the best way to do that is through your body. And from your body through your mind you will apply all that energy and be able see the line that you need to cross to become an achiever. In fact I want to say I am no different from anyone else, I have the same fears and worries but I have had the good fortune where I had a platform where I could test myself and overcome challenges.
You also invest heavily when training for a film role? Please can you explain how this differs from your regular regimen?
If I am doing a film that requires me to be in the best shape physically, then I double my workout time and it is anywhere from 2.5 to 3 hours per day – double of what I do. But I would also say that people don’t really need to do as much, I need to because my profession demands it. I do 30-40 minutes of warmup that involves physio stretches and activating the muscles so that it triggers at the right time, something which is most important to avoid injuries. It should be a norm to warmup and stretch and that is the time I do not count as part of my workout. Then I do a lot of ancillary muscle exercise that is usually ignored and I target muscles of my neck, lower back, glutes, abductors, ankle and wrist first so that they are injury proof before I hit anything that is high intensity. As part of the high intensity workout I divide it again into two parts one that is functional and uses my body weight and the hard core weight training. For the first I look at different things, say for instance how my son plays, jumps, tumbles, catches, falls so that is the kind of functionality that we must ensure we can do. Today for instance we struggle to sit on the floor, something that must not happen. So functional training is a combination of different exercises. Weight training however is primarily for aesthetic purposes.
Take us through your diet regimen?
I believe how you look is determined 90 percent of what you eat. People who want six pack abs, I can safely say that you may do thousands of abs workouts but if you do not eat right, it will not show. If you challenge me I can stop working out for 6 months and still have a ripped, six pack only through my diet. My diet is very simple and fiber is extremely important – whether naturally in vegetables or in husk. I have about 100 grams of protein and half a cup of carbs whether a sweet potato or rice, it does not matter if it is white or brown in each meal. I have this consistently once approximately in three hours and I have 4-5 such meals in a day. The attempt is to stop eating at 8:00 pm and go to sleep on an empty stomach and wake up in the morning and start the diet post workout at 9.30 a.m. I eat a lot of broccoli, bell peppers and sprouts – about 60 percent of my plate is covered with this.
You are known to love chocolates – when do you allow yourself to indulge?
I feel that life is always be push and pull, just like there is day and night and you have to allow yourself to experience both – the bright and the dark. I don’t have cheat days but I have cheat meals but I do not call them that. Rather I call them reward meals or treat meals and I think they are as important. There is a beautiful line that comes to my mind that goes – “kill the monotony before it murders the enthusiasm.” If you are getting monotonous, you will not want to do something at all, so have breaks, cheat meals and experience your bad side and let go. I do this too and then I become even more disciplined and I know when it time to be back on shoot, I start the diet again. If I allow myself to let go, it empowers me to focus back on my diet again.
You have had a bad spell with slip disc and weight gain but came out strong, tell us what you did to transform yourself?
In fact it was a genetic disorder in my spine and science gave up on me and I was advised not to be an actor as I would have to jump and dance and I could be under the knife in 4-5 years, if I did. Now its 25 years and I am jumping higher than before. So what I did was I gave up on science and read a lot of books to learn from other minds of the world. Reading books helped me a lot, I researched, learnt and got educated in alternative medicine and kept talking to people to strengthen my spine and my knees. I soon realized that I was in the midst of magic that was about to happen. I challenged what the doctors said and told myself when I was 20 that when I would be 40 I should not look back with regret. Today I am 44 and can say that what I questioned back then was a valid one.
What advice do you give your children so that they inculcate fitness as a habit?
I do not give them any advice or message as I believe you can only lead by example. Recently when I was going to the gym in the morning at 7:00 a.m. and I decided it was not a bad time for them to wake up on a holiday. So I woke them up and took them to the gym and they ended up ding 150 pushups at one go with maybe small breaks of 15 seconds. They thought they could do a maximum of 50 or 60 pushups but I guess they heard my voice and my trainer was there and they realized their potential was so much higher than what they initially thought. So now they know that they can apply this to other things as well and if there is a situation that they feel they cannot overcome, this kind of training will help them break the obstacle.
How does one be motivated to stay fit?
I think it is important to do any kind of movement exercises at least for 15 to 20 minutes every day. It does not have to be going to the gym. And do whatever you like to do, maybe before you sleep or any window you have. But just remember to be consistent with that and I guarantee that you will see results. I don’t want people to do as much as I do as that is not really required.
Please give our readers some fitness tips.
I will say only two things – initiative and consistency. I will also say that you must stay hydrated and avoid bad foods, even in your cheat days. It is important to avoid deep fried food. Have a pizza, burger, dark chocolate or even gajar ka halwa. Just keep the bad fats out of your diet.
This story appeared in the May 2018 issue of Smartlife Magazine here: