Radhika Karle, trainer to Sonam Kapoor, Dia Mirza, Nisa Godrej and more, is an expert in the field of fitness and nutrition. She gives Hannah Cardozo insight into the transforming power of Pilates.
The road to Pilates was far from easy, but fitness and nutrition expert Radhika Karle was determined to live life to the fullest. Over 15 years, she has garnered a niche for herself in the vibrant Pilates scene of Mumbai, where she shares the transformative power of mindful movement with others at her studio ‘Radhika’s Balanced Body’. She firmly believes that Pilates transcends age and gender, and her expertise has attracted notable individuals such as Sonam Kapoor, Anand Ahuja, Neelam Kothari Soni, Dia Mirza, Neil Bhoopalam, and Nisa Godrej. Join us as Radhika Karle sheds light on the beauty of Pilates.
How did you discover Pilates, and what led you to make it the focus of your career?
In 2004, I was doing my Nutrition Fellowship in Adolescent and Sports Medicine in the US. I was going to sit in my chair and the resident doctor accidentally pulled it out. I fell and landed on my tailbone. I was a big runner then, and due to my bruised tailbone, the doctor recommended Pilates.
At my first class, I spent the majority of the time gawking at the women who were in their late 40s and 50s, moving effortlessly with strength and flexibility. I was hooked and promised myself that I would move like that when I got to that age.
I am happy to say I can move like those women now. Pilates has brought mobility, balance, and strength to my body and it’s all thanks to a small accident!
What does Pilates entail and why is it your recommended form of exercise?
Pilates is a form of movement that makes your daily activities easier – this could be climbing up steps or getting in and out of bed.
It is low impact with great results. This makes it a form of exercise that EVERYBODY can do – those needing rehabilitation from injury, active agers, children with congenital bone deformities, and even people with spinal disc issues.
Exercise is not only vital for our physical health, but also for our mental health. Do you agree? Could you elaborate on the importance of mental health in fitness?
I completely agree. Exercise releases endorphins which are happy hormones and therefore one naturally feels better when they move.
Adding mindful movement can further help in reducing depression and anxiety. Pilates is a form of mindful movement where you must remain focused the entire time. It focuses on bringing a breathing pattern to movement, making it meditative, which is great for mental well-being.
It is no secret that diet plays a big role in staying healthy. As an expert in nutrition, what are your top three dos and don’ts when it comes to food?
1. Eat fresh and seasonal.
2. Use cold-pressed cooking oils and change them every two months to get a variety of good fats.
3. Eat the rainbow – the more colourful your plate, the better the nutritional value.
1. Eat packaged and processed foods that contain added sugar.
2. Consume deep-fried foods.
3. Eat a meal less than three hours before bedtime.
You have co-authored a book titled ‘Pure and Healthy – Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cuisine’ with Vidhu Mittal; can you tell us what the book comprises?
This is the first cookbook in India that a nutritionist has co-authored. It is a pure vegetarian cookbook that has ingredients that are superfoods. That means each age-old recipe is packed with nutritional goodness. It was the most fulfilling three-year project which produced a book that we are proud of.
Could you give us your top five Pilates exercises that can be done at home?
1. Roundback Bridging, to strengthen the back, better posture, and keep the knees healthy.
2. Ab Curls with a focus on keeping the pelvis neutral.
3. Side Lying Leg work is very good for keeping the knees healthy.
4. Swan, to work the back extensors and keep posture upright.
5. Opposite Arm Leg Reach, focuses on the front and back of the body while strengthening the core.
What is an accomplishment you are most proud of in this long journey?
I am most proud of the team I have working with me. It takes a village, and I am strong because of the people working with me who have learned, taught me, and are growing with me!
Sonam Kapoor has been a long-standing client, how have you managed her changing fitness goals over the years?
Working with Sonam has been the most challenging and fulfilling. We’ve done nine films over six years where she has played a schoolgirl, a physiotherapist, a princess, and even had a bikini scene! With each role, the workout would change, the meal plan was adjusted, and Sonam would push herself to work out even after a long day of shooting.
However, the best part of working with Sonam has been through her pregnancy and after. We focused on her core strength and added strength training, so she bounced back after the pregnancy. She worked out till a week before she delivered and got back pretty soon too.
She understands the importance of staying fit and strong not only while the cameras are on, but also when the cameras are off. Especially now that she’s got the biggest role of her life to play… that of mommy!
Men are hesitant to join Pilates, but Anand Ahuja serves as an inspiration. What are some of his goals and how does Pilates help in achieving them?
Anand is truly one of my favorite people to train. This is not only because he is super focused and always ready for a challenge, but because Pilates was a form of movement created by a man for men! Our Pilates routine focuses on mobility, core strength, and ensuring Anand’s ankles stay strong and healthy for basketball.
What is your advice for people who want to get fit but find it difficult to commit to a routine?
First start with an exercise that you like – if you like to dance, then try Zumba; if you like the water, then swim; and if you like a sport, play that. If you do something you like, you will stick to it. Second, invest in sessions with a certified, experienced trainer as this will help you reach your goals sooner, safely and effectively. Once you start seeing goals, you will stick to the routine.