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17 Mar - 23 Mar , 2012
The Fitness Expert
The Fitness Expertby WAJIHA JAWAID
"The quality of life improves with exercise and it is important to live healthy,"says fitness expert Muhammad Wasif, who has been in this profession for more than nine years. He is a certified trainer and his regular fitness sessions in morning shows have made him quite famous. He is a well established ramp model and has been doing magazine, television and fashion modelling for more than six years. Recently MAG caught up with him to get some tips on living a healthy lifestyle. Excerpts:

How did your interest in fitness begin?
My brother used to give a lot of importance to his fitness regime, so the inspiration obviously came from him. When I decided to get into this profession, I had to face serious criticism from my family and friends. In Pakistan it was quite a risky attempt because here unlike western countries it is not a well-flourished industry. But I was fortunate enough to work with very good instructors in the beginning of my career. With time I got my natural skills polished. I started as a trainee, moved on to group classes and currently I have been heading the fitness section of one of the leading fitness clubs of Karachi.

So what are your areas of expertise in terms of fitness and exercise?
I am more into weight training which is also called resistance training. Currently, I am doing boot camp. It is basically an army inspired training which involves aerobics and resistance training both. Last year, I did a special project for children which involved physical training with sports.

How do you see the current fitness trend in our country?
Although a few people have show inclination towards this trend but still this concept is quite novel in our society. There are very limited number of experts in this field and you see them every now and then on television. Very few people are working in this field and more than 80 per cent have taken training abroad. As far as I am aware, there is no proper institute in Pakistan which offers a proper degree in fitness.

In your opinion, what is the first thing a person should do to lose weight?
Weight management is based on two important factors i.e. diet and exercise. A perfect combo of these two can help you achieve your desired results. It is all about calories in and calories out. One can burn calories with exercise or with daily routine. A labourer burns, more calories in a day as compared to an The Fitness Expertoffice going guy as the former is more active physically. To lose weight, have a balanced diet and exercise regularly.

When a person comes to you for fitness guidance, is there a generic procedure that you follow?
When someone approaches me, in the initial phase I put them on medical screening, ask them about their medical history if they have any health conditions such as diabetes, orthopaedic problem, health diseases etc In case of a serious problem, a note from a physician is needed who can allow them to go ahead with the fitness plan. A person's current fitness level is checked with four tests, one deals with his body composition, other is cardio-vascular test and there is another one which is called muscular strength endurance test. After all these tests, a diet and exercise plan is suggested.

What is the best form of exercise for women to burn calories and lose weight?
For both genders, aerobics is the best exercise to burn calories. Any exercise that uses oxygen as a fuel to burn calories is categorised as aerobic exercise. It could be jogging, walking, dancing or you can follow steps of an instructor in a group class.

Is there any relation between calorie burning and sweating?
There is absolutely no relation. Sweating is basically related to body temperature. When one starts training, their body temperature elevates. The frequency of sweat varies from person to person. Those who drink a good amount of water have a good hydration level. If you drink less water, you sweat less as you have low water content in the body. Sometimes a person sweat while sitting in an office, it does not mean he is burning calories. It is actually the loss of water from the body.

Why is it important to warm up before exercise?
Warming up is necessary to avoid injuries. Muscles become elastic after a warm up and are ready for exertion and risky movements. Cold muscles do not absorb shock or impact and are more susceptible to injury. To avoid injuries it is also very important to properly cool down after every exercise session.

What are some of the misconceptions people have about exercising and getting in shape?
Spot reduction is the biggest exercise myth. It is impossible to shed fat from targeted area with a particular exercise. Women usually opt for abs' exercises to lose belly fat but they do not know that it can make their abs muscles stronger but will not help them in shedding the stored fat. With 15 reps of abs exercise one can burn only 2 to 3 calories. To reduce fat storage, aerobics is necessary.

Do you recommend any special foods, supplements or vitamins?
I do not promote such things. Natural diet can provide you with enough vitamins and minerals so there is no need to go for supplements. Complex carbohydrate has fibre which is good for you. There is a little caloric difference in complex and refined carbohydrates. But the intake of complex carbohydrate will make you feel full for longer period.

How important is it to set a target for weight loss?
One cannot lose weight if he has not defined particular time frame to achieve the goal. One should also set realistic target based on numeric figures. A person can lose 1 pound in a week by cutting down 500 calories a day. To make it achievable, cut down 250 calories from your diet and try to burn 250 calories with exercise. A daily meal should consist of 30 percent protein, 60 to 50 percent complex carbohydrates and 10 to 15 percent fats.

How can one boost his or her metabolism?
Have proper breakfast. People who skip breakfast habitually, usually have low metabolic rate, which later creates problems for them in weight reduction. To keep the metabolic rate rolling, have five to six small meals throughout the day. People who are involved in resistance training also have high metabolic rate so during the day when they are not exercising, their muscles are continuously recovering and energy is required for it which they get from stored fat deposits.

Please share with us the success stories of some of your clients.
Well, there are numerous success cases on my credit. Famous actress Amina Shaikh hired me as her instructor for her role in drama serial Bhag Amina Bhag. I was the fitness trainer of Mohib, her husband and he recommended my name for the serial. I worked with her for six months.

What is the best time of the day to work out; morning, afternoon, or evening?
You can exercise anytime of the day you like. Some people feel fresh after working out early in the morning but for others it becomes really difficult to perform daily chores after intense exercise in the early hours of the day. It also depends upon how much exertion your body can take. It is also very important to take a proper sleep of 6 to 8 hours daily.

What are the qualities of a good fitness trainer?
The basic problem with most of our fitness experts is that they have not studied the subject well. Whatever they are doing is based on their experience. It gives them knowledge which is enough to impress a client but they get exposed when they have to deal with a person with some nutritional problem or any disorder. If someone has studied human biomechanics it is easier for him to generate new exercises and postures.

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