ViPR with Kunal Sharma
If you want to crunch your core with personal trainer Kunal Sharma, you’ll probably need to sell your family jewellery first. That’s because Sharma, who uses the ViPR, an all-in-one fitness tool that looks like a rubber tube, but acts as part barbell, part stretching aid, charges for his services like a wounded bull – at R10 lakh per person per year.
When we meet for coffee at Juhu’s JW Marriott, I ask him whether he trained Bollywood stars. “No way,” laughed Sharma. “Actors would never pay such money. My clients are mostly diamond traders.” It turns out that businessmen don’t necessarily want to run the Mumbai Marathon. Most just want functional training to keep them healthy and free from ailments that plague the deskbound, such as back pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.
That’s where ViPR (short for Vitality, Performance and Reconditioning) is ideal, according to Sharma. Put simply: it can be a yoga and gym workout in one. With weights ranging from four to 20 kg, it can help build muscle mass — though it would take a while to look as buff as Sharma, an ex-body builder. Unlike gym machines that often isolate muscle groups, ViPR exercises work the whole body by replicating real world movements, such as twisting, stretching, contracting, throwing and pushing. This puts the focus on strengthening the core, burning fat and making faster gains in flexibility, agility and stability, said Sharma. For diamond traders, the dividend is on the fairway. “Being able to control the [weight of the] ViPR three dimensionally through the air means you can easily control your golf stick and swing,” he explained.
I understood what Sharma meant as I spun the ViPR through basic squat and twisting motions to bemused looks from hotel staff. Its range of hand grips allow you to execute an almost limitless variety of moves, which, because of the ViPR’s weight, targets your core back and abdomen muscles. In videos on ViPR’s official site, pro basketball players can be seen strengthening their core in a sport-specific way by moving the ViPR left and right to mimic dribbling a ball, while rugby players jump while holding it to foster explosive power.
Sharma trains his clients a minimum of five times a week, using only the ViPR and a support harness called the TRX. The ViPR would be a great complement to my aerobic and conventional gym training. But as Sharma points out, you should know how to use it. Otherwise, a ViPR workout may prove as boring as the daily life movements it mimics, such as lifting a box or sweeping the floor. We’d suggest waiting for a gym to offer ViPR group classes or selling enough diamonds to afford Sharma’s expertise.
FLEXI-BAR with Jordyn Steig
American personal trainer Jordyn Steig cannot sit still. In the 90 plus minutes I spent in his living room, which also acts as his fitness studio, I saw him crawl on a Swiss ball, balance on a wobble board, exercise with balls filled with sand and shake a FLEXI-BAR. The last is a bendy stick-like device which weighs 1.5kg and looks harmless enough. Steig handed me one as soon as I walked in, and asked me to shake it. My year-long training in the gym paid off and I succeeded in my first attempt. “It often takes people a month or two to get it moving, but you seem to have a hang of it,” said Steig. The 43-year-old personal trainer from California suggested another exercise with the tool, but this time around it shook for five seconds and then stopped.
This, according to the device’s official site, meant that my body was not happy. It may have had to do with the position I was in – leaning against the wall, one leg suspended mid air and one hand holding the FLEXI-BAR. The site explains that the user is “the power source. This means that you and your body are in complete control.” Nothing you can do will make it continue vibrating. Thus, this tool’s best attribute is that there is no risk of injury, said Steig. So swing it as carefree as you please.
Invented in Germany, the bar works on the principle of vibration training, explained Steig, and activates involuntary muscles or the core muscles located in the back. The constant vibration expands and contracts these muscles and helps improve the posture and prevent back pain and injury. Through a variation of exercises it can also be used to concentrate on shoulders, biceps, triceps, the chest and abs.
Steig came across it at a now-defunct Bandra fitness studio, where he experimented with it and taught himself how to incorporate it in his workout. I felt like I was listening to a scientist-superhero highlighting his powers. So it didn’t take me by surprise when Steig referred to his fitness regimen as “wonder workouts”. They combine his own variations of exercises done using the FLEXI-BAR, Swiss ball and wobble board, asanas, training on the mat and movements drawn from Pilates.
Steig wants to set up his own boutique gym, exercise studio and health centre, he said. “I want my studio to be a playground for fitness,” he said. “If you don’t have fun, then you are not going to do it. There has to be mutual enjoyment. But it’s not like we have to be friends.”
A session with Jordyn Steig costs R1,200 for 80 minutes, fees vary if Steig trains at home. Call Steig on +91 99870 18579 or visit www.wellisticwholeness.in to know more about his services. Also see the official site www.flexi-bar.co.uk.