Yash Birla’s spacious private gym is housed on the terrace of his Malabar Hill heritage home. A serene spot, the gym offers a 360 degree view of where old money and old world charm reside amidst leafy bylanes.
The Birla scion, banters away with his trainer Jivesh about the photo shoot. The latter has been training Yash for seven years now and the comfort level is evident.
Yash is parked on a bean bag next to a torso shaped statue.
Instead of scooting closer, he teases Jivesh about demonstrating his superior muscle power to move the heavy sculpture. “Show your physique. Go ahead,” says Yash. Jivesh slides it closer with monumental effort.
“You want applause?” Yash jokes, “Well done!” We settle down for a serious chat about his training:
Yash likes to work out late in the evenings after work. He says, “Mornings don’t work for me. I work out for an hour on an average. I weight train four times a week and do cardio twice. I like cycling, power yoga, walking or martial arts but I love weight training. My trainer used to make me do 60-70 Surya Namaskars in a go.”
Lean vs Bulk
With biceps the size of a mountain, Yash clearly prefers bulk over a stripped, lean look. He says, “I like anything that stands out. I prefer a bigger look. It makes you look different.”
Yash believes that the mind, body and spirit are integrated. He says, “I’m a pure vegetarian and I don’t eat eggs. I have natural proteins from vegetarian sources like milk, milk products, lentils, soya, tofu. I supplement it with whey proteins. I’ve trained my taste buds according to what is healthy.”
He has six small meals a day. He says, “Every three hours I need to eat. For breakfast, I eat muesli or peanut butter jam toast (sugar free jam), and a protein shake. I have white tea, which is equivalent of green tea, only better and a frothy sweet coffee at office. For lunch, I have a wholewheat sandwich or lentils, salad and a soup, brown rice or thick rice and dhansak. And a protein shake.
A snack follows – a fruit or thereptin biscuits or a protein bar. Pre-workout, I have a sandwich (wholewheat bread) or a vegetable. I have a post-workout protein shake, followed by something sweet like a mango or dates or blueberries. Half an hour later, I have dinner, roti and subzi and dal or tofu and a protein shake.”
The Cheat Code
His weakness is a sweet tooth. “I have even given up eggs in desserts, also because of a mannat. It has been 12 years now. I do indulge in eggless desserts. Pastries, marzipan, rasgollas are my favourites. And I’d prefer sweet over fried food anyday.” The fitness enthusiast is almost sin-free. “I’ve never tasted alcohol,” he says. “It’s not required. So why indulge? I’m actually repelled by alcohol.”
The workout schedule
Yash trains two body parts a day, but his routine keeps changing. “One day, I do chest and triceps. The second is the back. The third, I do legs, so that the upper body is rested. Next are shoulders and biceps.”
He lifts heavy weights. He can bench press about 200 pounds. “My trainer encourages me to do more weights for legs, though I’m not keen on it. My favourite body part to work out is the chest.” His weak spot is the hamstrings and shoulders.
Yash says that since his trainer is a good friend, he travels with him. He says, “Before I travel, I tend to overtrain. I will work out for seven days instead of four and then for one week, I won’t exercise.”
But when he’s travelling with his kids on a longer trip, he works out. “It’s part of my lifestyle and a pursuit of excellence. If I’m in the mountains, I’ll go for a walk in the forest. If I’m in a place like London or Paris, I don’t take cars and taxis, I walk as the weather is lovely.”
“My whole family works out with me sometimes. We at least get gym time together,” he says. He sleeps for at least seven-eight hours a day. “I’m not an early riser and I don’t have so many late nights. I don’t maintain so much protocol about socialising.”
Working out to bhajans
As for work out music — “I like electro or progressive house. I can also work out to bhajans. If I’m agitated, bhajans calm me down.”
• If I’m agitated, I work out to bhajans. They help calm me down