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There have been a lot of nutritionists and fitness trainers who help people gain a good physique, maintain fitness and assist in leading a healthy lifestyle. However, few dream to spread fitness education and make society aware of how wellness is necessary to everyone residing in this world.
One such person in our society is Adarsh Desai. He is an engineer turned Gym Owner, a Strength & Fitness Coach who aspires to promote fitness education to the masses via various mediums, including approaching colleges, starting a Youtube channel, and even writing E-books. Here is a conversation with Adarsh Desai guiding people to maintain an active lifestyle in conversation with Icy Tales.
Q) What are some of the best ways to lead a healthy life and build immunity to fight various kinds of diseases?
Adarsh Desai – In a general sense, maintaining a good healthy lifestyle is the answer. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle signifies that people should engage themselves in exercise, somewhere between 3-5 days a week. Any form of exercise, subject to the individual’s liking is good, rather than no exercise at all. But, it’s great if some combination of resistance training or lifting weights and cardio.
Regular exercise should be backed up by proper nutrition which encompasses eating enough calories as per the individual’s needs, a diet rich in protein-1.5-2.5g/kg of body weight daily, ample quantity of fruits & vegetables, and healthy fats. Over that, a healthy sleep routine is also important. Most of the recovery- repair, rebuild, or recuperation, of our body needs, happens in sleep. A general recommendation would be somewhere between the 7-9 hours of night sleep regularly. It can vary from person to person.
Q) Your fitness is very inspiring. What are some of the things you do to stay fit and healthy?
Adarsh Desai – I do most things as I outlined in my previous answer. I lift weights 5-6 times a week and rarely do some cardio as I do not like it much. My diet is protein-rich and includes 2-3 varieties of vegetables and fruits daily.
It is not that different from a traditional vegetarian diet except that the portions of protein-rich food are high. I also get a lot of my protein from whey protein shakes since it is very hard to meet my daily protein target from my food within my calorie budget. Which is typical of a purely vegetarian diet.
Q) You being a Gym owner, what were the difficulties you faced when the initial wave of Covid hit us, and all the gyms were closed for a significant amount of time? How did you cope up with the same?
Adarsh Desai – Initially, I thought it was a one-week thing, so we weren’t very disturbed. Here in Karnataka, the state government initially announced the lockdown for one week, which was also a week earlier than the central government.
The first round of 21-days announced by the central government was fine. Nobody knew what we are up against and I thought it was the right thing to do. But things got frustrating as the lockdown kept extending after every deadline. Gyms were one of the last places of business to be allowed to open. We remained closed for 4 months and 20 days resulting in a huge loss. We had to pay the rent in full and also paid half the salaries to our employees.
After a certain point in time, when things were getting a little better, gym members were asking for the gyms to re-open but never wanted to go against the government orders. However, I was also concerned about the infection spreading. But later on, finally, we were allowed to open the gym officially.
Also, we got a lackluster response as people started coming back. We could not cross 70% of our previous numbers for months. But as things got better and we were touching our previous numbers, the second covid wave hit us hard. We got shut again, longer than other businesses, and this time we are struggling to hit 40% of our pre-covid number.
During the second lockdown, I started to offer online training to keep myself working, and I think I will continue doing this.
Q) What are some of the best ways to maintain fitness?
Adarsh Desai – Being fit can mean different things for different people and there are several aspects to fitness. Like strength, endurance, cardio-respiratory fitness, body composition, speed, agility, flexibility, mobility, and so on. A powerlifter needs to be strong to lift heavy weights, so most of his effort goes into getting stronger.
Similarly, a marathoner needs a high level of lower body muscle endurance and cardio-respiratory fitness. A person playing sports needs certain aspects of fitness the sport demands.A common person does not have a highly specific fitness requirement, but most people associate looking good to benefit.
So the best place to start would be to aim for a better body composition which is having more muscle mass and lower body fat. A Body of around-20% for men and 25% for women is considered average. Anything lower can be deemed fit, body-composition-wise.
You can find your body fat percentage by using calculators available online. I use something called the US Navy body fat calculator just because it is convenient. You need to enter your weight, height and certain body measurements and the calculator throws back your approximate body fat. It’s not accurate but so are any other methods of calculating body fat.Lower body fat percent is also a good proxy for health.
Being lean and muscular reduces the risk of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, B.P, and heart diseases significantly. You also look and feel good in general.The best way to achieve it is to be on a high-protein, calorie-deficit diet and lift weights. Lifting weights signals the body to build muscle and a high-protein diet provides the raw material needed for that. A calorie deficit is when you are getting fewer calories of energy from your food than your body needs.
So the energy gap is fulfilled by using the stored body fat as fuel. This will result in a gradual reduction of body fat and an increase in muscle mass and thus the body composition.If you want to have a muscular 6-packs kind of physique, you need to build a lot of muscle and bring your body fat below 10%
Lifting weights significantly improves your strength and muscular endurance and all other aspects of fitness to an appreciable degree. But adding some form of cardio-running, cycling, swimming, etc to your fitness regimen can be beneficial to improve your overall physical fitness and work capacity.
Q) What are the best pre-workout and post-workout diets?
Adarsh Desai – Pre and post-workout meals depend mostly on the time of your workout. Having some carbohydrates before a workout can be beneficial to your performance in the workout. Especially when you lift weights. Since you are also breaking down your muscles during a workout, having protein around your workout can be helpful since it will initiate muscle protein synthesis that can counter the breakdown.
For example, if you have a nice lunch high in protein at 2 pm and go workout at 4 pm, that itself will serve as a pre-workout meal since the food is still digesting and providing carbohydrates and protein.
I work out early in the morning and if I have not had food for more than 8-9 hours and I cannot have a heavy meal at that time. So I just have fruit, say banana and a whey protein shake, and coffee. The caffeine from the coffee can also improve your performance in the gym. It is a nervous system stimulant that activated our nervous system and makes it work efficiently, improve strength and endurance, and mood.
In the case of post-workout, let’s say you finished your workout late at 7 pm and you generally have your dinner at 9. You don’t need a special post-workout meal. Your dinner itself is good. Now if you finish your workout by 5:30 pm there is a gap of more than 3 hours till dinner, it will be smart to have a post-workout meal with some protein and carbohydrates.
Q) Recently, there have been instances of people having heart attacks at an early age, and there have been several statements about using heavy weights during gymming leading to a lot of pressure on your heart health. What do you think about the same?
Adarsh Desai – There are so many factors that can lead to a heart attack. In general, if a person whose heart health is not good and is prone to heart attack engages in intense physical activity, it can trigger a heart attack.
A workout can be a trigger if the heart attack happened after the workout. But we cannot say if it was caused by the workout itself. We do not know what’s going on in a person’s life. If he is healthy or not, if he is following a proper lifestyle, eating healthy, whether he has a lot of stress if he has a healthy sleep routine.
Just working out in the gym will not cause a heart attack.Lifting weights and maintaining a proper diet will increase muscle mass and reduce body fat. That itself is very healthy and reduces the risk of all-cause mortality. A strong and muscular person has a better chance of surviving and recovering faster from an accident.
Q) Who has been your constant support and pillar during all this time? Is there someone you look up to as an inspiration?
Adarsh Desai – All this would not have been possible without the support of my wife. After all, she is the one who cooks my food and when I started she had to measure every ingredient which went into cooking. It took double the time to cook. She has been mostly patient all the time though she got frustrated sometimes. But she always supported me.
Inspiration, I get from many places. There are so many people on the internet and social media who keep providing inspiration and knowledge. We have all the great information at our fingertips.
Another great source of knowledge and inspiration is books for me. I have gained a lot just by reading books. For instance, I have been interested in the gym ever since I was a teenager. I have been in and out of the gym several times. But every time I did not get results because of a lack of knowledge.
Only this time, since I had recently picked up a habit of reading, I read a book called Bigger Leaner Stronger, by Mike Matthews and used the information in my training and nutrition and I have been at it for 6 years now.
I have also realized that everything we need to reach our goal is available around us. You just have to set your aim and work with focus. You will start noticing things that you never noticed before.
For example, if you are planning to buy a car and you have narrowed it down to a couple of models. Suddenly you start seeing those models of cars everywhere on the road. You start to feel that everybody else is buying the same car. This is the job of our Reticular Activation System. Its job is to filter out all the info you don’t need and only bring your attention to what you need or want to focus on.
Q) What are your plans for the near future?
Adarsh Desai – My main purpose is to spread fitness education and my interest is in barbell-based strength training. So that is what I promote through my gym. We coach people in barbell lifts squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead press as main lifts.
Apart from that we also conduct classroom sessions in the gym where we teach a little in detail about the Mindset required for a fitness lifestyle, the basics of nutrition, the fundamentals of strength training, and the proper method of tracking your training, nutrition, and progress.
In the future, I would like to spread this fitness education to the masses. I am planning to approach schools and colleges around my place to give fitness seminars, conduct online webinars to reach more and more people. I might also start a youtube channel later.
The conversation with Adarsh Desai reflects on what he aspires to do in the future and how good he is as a person. Fitness education is necessary for everyone to lead a healthy life. Among people who aspire to promote this sort of education, Adarsh Desai is one of those gems.