Earlier this week, we reached out to Abhinav Mahajan — a Chandigarh based fitness expert with over ten years in the fields of fitness and personal development.
Mahajan’s multi-million-strong online audience comes with a long history behind his success. Starting off as an average teenager who pushed through engineering, Mahajan soon discovered the value of hard work and persistence, as he puts it, to make a name for himself as a model. Despite his early struggles, he’s since graced the cover of Men’s Health, walked the ramp for Manish Malhotra, and built a strong base of over 300 fitness clients.
Here’s what Mahajan has to say about his philosophies for fitness, and his thoughts on India’s ecosystem of fitness influencers.
Tell us about how you started your own fitness journey.
“It all started when I was 16. I was born and brought up in tough surroundings. Being a skinny kid, I was often sick and was bullied around by my mates. My sole purpose of joining the gym was to become healthier, bigger and stronger so that I would have good immunity and be able to protect myself.
Over a period of time I realised that fitness had to do a lot more than just eating high protein foods and lifting heavy weights in gym. I could notice how fitness made me a stronger person not just physically but mentally and emotionally too. Since then, I’ve dedicated my life and work towards staying fit and inspiring everyone around me to do the same.”
What’s your favourite way to exercise? Any new techniques or practices you’ve been trying out?
“Yes. A couple of years back I was introduced to yoga by a close friend of mine. Since then I have incorporated yoga along with my weight and cardio training. It has helped me immensely in increasing my focus and flexibility.
Usually I will warm up with 10-15 minutes of a yoga routine, followed by 30-45 minutes of weight training session, then 10-15 mins of cardio session, which includes skipping, cycling or the step master. I always end with 10-15 mins of ‘Yin yoga’ which is more of a stretching and cooldown-based routine.”
Your most popular video on YouTube is titled ‘NO GYM FULL BODY WORKOUT AT HOME’. Naturally, it must have been very useful to people post-pandemic, but how did you adjust to disruptions in your own fitness schedule back when 2020 hit?
“Honestly, I did not ‘work out’ at all in 2020. What I replaced it with was yoga — it was a learning curve in itself. I became aware of spaces in my physiology and in my thoughts. It was a good time for me to take a break from all the ‘Yang’ lifting I had been doing for almost 15 years and let my body heal and relax during pandemic.”
Another part of your work involves lifestyle tips. Who would you consider as your personal style/lifestyle icons?
“Honestly… no one. I used to follow lifestyle influencers from across the globe, but I realised that you are the best person to decide what kind of lifestyle suits your personality. Every now and then I do scroll through Instagram for new trends, but over the years through intense trial and error I have come close to living the lifestyle I really want which is not that hard to attain.
There’s still a long way to go because along with being a lifestyle coach I am also a student of life. Every day I am trying to improve some element in my personal life whether it’s grooming, dressing, social skills, fitness, health, family life or finances.”
What’s your current diet like? Do you have any favourite indulgences?
“My diet is pretty simple. I consume a moderate protein, moderate fat, and high carb diet as carbohydrates work best for my body type and keep me energetic throughout the day. I opt for healthy carbs like oats, daliya, brown rice, multigrain chapattis, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and whole grain bread.
For protein, it’s mostly pulses, legumes, lactose-free paneer, and yogurt. 2-3 times a week I will have couple of whole eggs or some fish. Occasionally I consume protein powder, especially when I am travelling and struggling to eat my meals on time.
I have a sweet tooth, so I prefer 85% dark chocolate, homemade kheer with rice and almond milk (I’ll add some jaggery for taste), Homemade high protein cookies (with my secret recipe 😉 ) vegan chocolate ganache cake, blueberry dark chocolate hotpots and vegan mango Ice cream.”
Congratulations on your new home. What’s the first set of things you want to purchase for it?
“Thank you. I am almost done with interior work. The first set of things I purchased was obviously a set of beds and mattresses . (I mean who would like to sleep on the ground in a new home . 🙂 ) The next was a gas stove for obvious reasons and then some basic furniture sets like sofas and an office table.
Pretty basic I guess.”
What would you most want to change amongst India’s fitness community today?
“Nothing. I used to imagine the fitness industry being a certain way, but then I realised that fitness has no boundaries. Everyone is trying to do their best according to the exposure and awareness one has attained with the word ‘Fitness’.
I just wish the industry as a whole could put some extra effort in focusing more on education than aesthetics-driven content.
Lead Image: Abhinav Mahajan