Pilates for a Healthy Life with Radhika Karle

While the battle against the bulge is raging and more and more people are searching for that elusive fitness regime that best suits them, Pilates is finding favour in the country. Radhika Karle a renowned master Pilates trainer, Pilates educationist, celebrity fitness trainer, nutritionist and co-author of ‘pure and Healthy – a healthy Indian cookbook’, threw light on this form of exercise in the Navhind Times’ Talk From The Heart show which aired on 1st May on the Goa 365 channel.

Karle, whose clientele includes Bollywood celebrities, and a host of industry captains, holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietics from the US and has done a Fellowship in Adolescent and Sport’s medicine. She moved back to India 12 years ago and began her entrepreneurial journey with Radhika’s Balanced Body. She owns a chain of fully equipped Pilates studios in Mumbai and has many awards and media features under her belt.

Starting with the history of Pilates, Karle explained its main characteristics. “Pilates was started by a man for men,” emphasized Karle, who believes that there is a misconception that Pilates is only for women. “Pilates is a form of movement that makes activities of daily living easier, like moving in and out of your car, carrying your suitcase, etcetera,” she explained. Highlighting what makes Pilates unique from the other forms of exercise, she spoke about the different apparatus like reformers, Cadillac trapeze table, Pilates ring, foam arcs, combo chairs and ladder barrels. “These apparatus are spring loaded and hence very gentle on the joints which enables anyone from age 10 to 100 do Pilates.” The other point that she spoke about was the focus of Pilates on building the core muscles and exercising the whole body evenly and symmetrically. “Strength and mobility of muscles are the pillars of Pilates,” she said and explained the difference between the two.

Resistance training too is another crucial part of Pilates. Expounding on this aspect, Karle said, “It is only with the resistance exercises that you can build strength and the muscle. This further leads to bone density which is extremely beneficial especially for women.

Asked about her fitness philosophy, she mentioned consistency in the exercise routine, enjoying the exercise, rest, nutrition and destress as the main pillars and added, “Taking time to unplug, be on your own and breathe and destress is important.” She then explained some of the distinct breathing exercises that are used in Pilates like sniffing breath, lateral breathing, besides others. “Joseph Pilates the inventor of Pilates was very much influenced by yoga, taichi and other eastern practices and blended them into his form of exercises,” she expounded.

As in other forms of exercises, in Pilates too, nutrition is a vital part of the regime. Karle, who is the only nutritionist in India to co-author a cookbook, spoke expansively on this topic. Clarifying some misconceptions about this topic, she said, “Do not skip meals as the body requires energy. Instead eat at regular intervals and watch what and how much you eat.” Another myth she cleared up was that sweat is an indication of a good workout. “In Pilates many a time you may not sweat but does not mean the workout was not effective,” she emphasised.

Including super foods in the diet, she said was important and listed turmeric, moringa/ drumstick, clarified butter/ghee, coconut, eggs. “Eggs are perfect for protein, as they have essential amino acids which the body cannot produce and are great for the skin, hair and building muscles,” she stated. For vegetarians, she recommended yogurt as a good substitute for eggs and added. “The whey or the liquid that rises to the top in curd is the most important part and should not be thrown away“.

Staying motivated on the path to fitness is not always easy; as more often than not results are not immediate. Encouraging viewers to stay on the path, she said, “It is important to vary your goals. Your goals should not only be based on what you see on the scale but the goals should also have an emotional, mental and physical aspect to it.

Wellness, she explained, is not only about looking a certain way but more about eating healthy, drinking enough water, exercising regularly and finding the connection between body, mind and soul.