Life & Style
A functional approach to fitnessFitness instructor Bibek Aakash talks about the importance of functional fitness and various forms of fitness, including aerial yoga.
Fitness instructor Bibek Singh, who goes by Bibek Aakash, never thought he would get into fitness, having seen his brother’s intense exercise routines and the strict diet plans he used to follow. However, after joining The Pump in Gyanmandala, Lalitpur, in 2017, he says he discovered his passion for fitness.
From the beginning, he found himself more interested in exercises that would increase his mobility and flexibility. He then started researching these topics himself, reading up on them, learning about programmes like Animal Flow, and being mindful of what he and the people around him were doing that would increase their mobility and flexibility.
While gaining muscle mass might be some individuals’ fitness goal, not everyone has to workout like bodybuilders to attain the level of fitness required for their body type and lifestyle. Bibek Aakash subscribes to this that he isn’t into the exercises done for bodybuilding. “I like moving, mountain biking and running. My lifestyle also doesn’t need me to be built like a bodybuilder,” he says, adding that he realised he was into functional fitness pretty early on.
The fitness coach also saw a need for functional fitness as people of all ages and from all walks of life would come to The Pump to workout. Bibek Aakash has trained many kids with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism and older individuals at the gym. As a lot of these clients sign up to strengthen their bodies enough to be able to move around more freely than what they are used to, he believes fitness instructors shouldn’t engage them in the same routine used to train athletes. Instead, instructors should cater to each individual’s special needs and apply functional fitness methods.
Although he had learned various fitness techniques and forms of exercising through the national and international instructors at The Pump, the many seminars and workshops the gym organised over the years with visiting instructors and many online fitness courses, Bibek Aakash wanted to sign up for certified fitness courses. So last year, he went to India and stayed there for nine months studying fitness—mostly yoga—more. He says he wanted to learn more about fitness from gurus who have studied it in a lot of detail and have a wide range of knowledge on the subject so that he could apply it during his coaching sessions.
Bibek Aakash is a certified yoga teacher and has completed 500 Hours of Yoga Teacher Training Course (YTTC), pre-natal and post-natal YTTC from Vinyasa Yoga Ashram, Aerial Yoga Teacher Training Course from Adi Yoga Ashram and Kettlebells Level 1 and 2 certifications from EKFA Kettlebells LLP.
What is fitness to you?
I consider someone fit when they are able to effortlessly perform whatever their lifestyle requires them to.
I am a very active person and I engage in different physical activities every day. Say I want to run a long distance one day. If I’m able to do that and be fine—without any pain in my legs the next day—then I consider myself fit.
Another person’s case could be very different to mine. For example, if you like dancing and are able to do all sorts of dancing moves with ease without hurting yourself during the process, then I would consider you fit.
What is functional fitness?
Functional fitness is a type of physical exercise that will train the body for daily activities. It includes movements that we do in our everyday life and conditioning the body to perform these movements most efficiently without incurring injuries. We can customise it to fit the lifestyle and bodily requirements of anyone.
For example, a sprinter needs lean muscles that will enable them to move faster. So practising bodybuilding wouldn’t fit their lifestyle. Their workouts should include exercises that would help them in their everyday routine. This is where functional fitness comes in.
Is working out at the gym necessary to stay fit?
No, it is not.
Today, we feel we have to go to a gym daily or workout intensively to be fit because that is the narrative the media we consume is showing us. However, even before our modern-day gyms were built, there were people who were fit, and a lot of them did that by simply adopting small but significant everyday habits that would keep their bodies fit. Sometimes, people didn’t even have to adopt these habits consciously. Their lifestyle would just keep them fit.
Technology has made us incredibly lazy. We are missing out on small physical tasks that would keep us healthy because we rely on technology too much. Most people don’t walk at all these days. Everyone has their own vehicle and we just drive around. So, the modern world makes it seem like a necessity to either partake in an intense workout regime or be a regular at the gym to stay fit.
Are workouts enough to stay fit?
If you look at the hierarchy of fitness, workouts take up just the top 20 percent of this table. Things like food and water intake, the amount of quality sleep you get, and the activities you do on a daily basis take up 80 percent of the table. So, these things are just as—if not more—important than the exercises you do.
On average, a person who goes to the gym spends an hour there. The workout they do in those 60 minutes has to sustain them for the next 23 hours. So, we have to be mindful of the other things we do during the day—including what we eat/drink and how long we sleep.
What are some simple habits one can adopt to stay fit?
The lifestyle of an average Nepali family from about two decades ago is perfect for fitness. Back then, we would eat meat around once every one or two weeks. We ate three full meals every day but these would be fresh home-cooked food that was easy to digest. Also, we engaged in more physical activities like walking and playing physical games which isn’t the case anymore. Going back to this way of living would be good for our health.
A simple habit one can do daily is to walk for an hour. Other things you can do every day to better your health is to eat healthily and drink a lot of water. We need to drink at least five litres of water every day. We also need to sleep for a minimum of seven hours. These things might seem small individually but do them every day and you will see a significant change in your body.
Aerial yoga is a relatively new form of yoga developed by gymnasts and acrobats when they fused their workouts with traditional yoga.
It yields results faster than traditional yoga—especially when it comes to flexibility—because you control how far you want to push yourself with the poses and movements. The silk hammocks used during the yoga assist you during the class.
Practising aerial yoga regularly will strengthen your core, bones, arms and forearms and legs. “As you will have to perform inversions frequently in aerial yoga, it can even cure motion sickness,” says Bibek Aakash.