After training her first celebrity client, the Bollywood actress, Kareena Kapoor in 2006, Yasmin Karachiwala has made a mark for herself in the fitness industry.
As a personal fitness instructor for all the big names in Bollywood such as Deepika Padukone, Ali Bhatt, Hrithik Roshan and more.
Known to always prioritise her wellness routine, even while travelling, Karachiwala always emphasises on the transformative power of healing through exercise by practicing consistency and a strict regimen after first visiting the gym at the age of 18 years old.
By bringing her love for Pilates to Dubai, her niece and her husband launched the PAD Fitness six years ago. Situated in the heart of Dubai in Onyx Tower 1, this fitness studio has revamped the workout game in Dubai with various classes such contemporary dance, Pilates dance, wedding choreography and more.
To see her journey as an instructor, sat down to chat with her and understand how it all began.
Talk us through your career.
When I was younger, I was a tomboyish, free-spirited young girl flitting through life aimlessly when fate intervened, starting my journey on a fitness pathway that I had never envisaged for myself. My best friend Namrata enrolled me in an aerobics class at the gym, and I assumed it would be really easy. To my utter shock, I made it to being “the worst student in the class.” But I worked really hard and ended up being the “best student.” So much so, that one day my instructor asked me to take the class as she was sick, and that was my turning point. I fell in love with teaching. So I attained my fitness certification from India, and started teaching aerobics and weight training, but I knew I was missing something. That’s when I found Pilates. I travelled to the US and was the first certified Pilates instructor in India. From there, I got my first celebrity client, Karena Kapoor and there was no looking back from there. Today, I’ve been teaching Pilates for over 20 years and I am a teacher trainer with a goal to get everyone in the world to try Pilates at least once.
How do you begin your morning routine?
My morning routine begins with meditation, followed by my Butter Coffee. I spend time with my husband and kids as they eat breakfast, and play with my little dog Enzo, who has all of our hearts. And then I head to the gym to train my clients.
You always manage to incorporate fitness into your routine while travelling – how do you stay disciplined?
If anything is a priority for you in life, you will make time for it. We make time for our kids, for our holidays, for our meals, right? Similarly, at least 30 minutes of movement a day is a non-negotiable for me, so I always plan my days around it. If we’re starting early on a holiday, I will ensure I’ve done my steps by going for a walk or to the gym in the evening.
How has it been to break the stigma for men who’ve now incorporated pilates into their fitness journey?
It feels good when men start to wince and scream when they’re on the reformer because they’ve started to use muscles they’ve never used before! Once a man tries Pilates, I can guarantee they will stand corrected about it being an exercise form only for women.
Diet is an important part of any fitness routine; tell us about your overall diet?
I eat what I feel like it, but I have certain rules. I stay away from gluten, and I completely avoid sugar. Sugar is like poison for our bodies, and I never take my body for granted. I love my meats, fish, and grilled vegetables. It’s funny because it sounds boring, but whenever my nieces come home to eat, they always want to eat my food instead of the food that’s made for everyone; it’s really yummy.
You’ve always trained a host of Bollywood celebrities – name a few and how did your journey with them begin?
My journey began when Kareena Kapoor started training with me way back in 2006. She really transformed for a song she was doing back then, and then word spread, and today I regularly train Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone and Sophie Choudry. I’ve also trained Hardik Pandya and Hrithik Roshan, both of whom are Pilates fans!
The PAD Dubai celebrates five years since its launch. What are the key workouts offered at the studio?
Yes indeed, and I am so proud of my niece Shaazia and her husband Abbas. They have really built a community that is thriving and pushes one another to stay fit. What’s unique about the studio is that they offer both Pilates and Dance classes. In Pilates they offer Private, Group and rehabilitation Pilates, and in Dance they offer Bollywood, Bollyfit, Bhangra, Jazz and Ballet. They also specialise in wedding sangeet choreography and corporate wellness sessions.
How has the fitness industry evolved since you first started?
The fitness industry has transformed! When I started 30 years ago, people barely understood the importance of health and fitness, it was a struggle to find clients and an even bigger struggle to find a training institute to get trained properly. Today, especially after COVID people have realized the importance of health and wellbeing, they are seeking out good fitness professionals to guide them and walk the through their issues. In addition, you now see a gym or a Pilates studio on every street! That to me is a really positive sign. And it’s trending upwards.
With a busy schedule and always being on the go – how do you unwind on a daily basis?
My workout time, family time, and dog time are my unwinding times.
What’s the biggest myth you’ve seen when it comes to exercising?
That you need to have an hour every day to workout. In my new book that releases next month, called The Perfect 10, I show you that 10 minutes a day is more than enough to stay healthy. This may not be enough to achieve your goals, but it is enough to stay fit.
As celebrities are always on the move, how do you manage to maintain their fitness levels?
Most of the celebrities are very conscious of their own fitness regimens, so it’s not very hard to keep them accountable. Either I travel with them, or I give them a workout schedule for while they’re away. And we always manage to keep them looking amazing!
Many people believe in calorie counting – what are your thoughts on this?
I believe in eating healthy. Don’t eat food out of a packet, eat local produce made fresh, and if you are counting, count the right amount of protein, good fats and fibre. All calories are not the same, don’t just count calories, fuel your body with good nutrition.
What’s next for you?
We already have our presence in India, Dubai and Dhaka (Bangaldesh), and now we want to expand more internationally, both in the Middle East region as well as beyond.