Actress Ushasie Chakraborty’s love for kettlebells is a long-term fitness affair. Her favourite exercise is the kettlebell snatch and she performs it with great passion. Her commitment has seen her participate in many kettlebell competitions in the past and she has a gold too in her kitty. In a recent fitness shoot for The Telegraph at Awe Fitness, she showed us her kettlebell moves and shared her fitness story.
How has commitment to fitness changed your life?
It has completely changed my life. I had a spinal cord injury long back. At that point in time, my doctors in Kolkata said I would not cope without an operation. I, however, somehow recovered with medicines. I started strengthening my back after that. Since that time, I have been consistently doing it for so many years. For a long time I used to do just strength and weight training, now I do other exercises. It has completely changed my life and has given me a lot of confidence. Now, it is like an addiction. If I do not train, I feel different. It has changed my personality. I have more mental strength now. I like to take on challenges and that comes from my fitness background.
What does staying fit mean to you?
Firstly, staying fit means neither becoming too lean or too fat. Secondly, to give my body new challenges. It has helped me to come out of depression and any mental breakdown too.
What fitness activities are you into?
For the last 10 years, I am into strength and kettlebells. I did the training for kettlebell at Awe Fitness from Anwar Wahhab and did the level one training that allows one to become a trainer. I took training from Russian coach Sergey Rudnev too. I participated in kettlebell championships too. But recently, I have started doing my flexibility exercises and started learning yoga as well. It gives me a lot of mindfulness. I lost my father to Covid and then I started thinking differently about engaging in exercises that could heal my mind.
What about kettlebell exercises attract you to it?
Firstly, the newness of it. When I started it 10 years back, people were not so aware of the kettlebell in Kolkata. I was learning something new. It does not act upon a single body part, but it increases the whole endurance of the body. It gives a lot of power. I have a kettlebell collection at home, which I got from Bangalore when I started learning it.
What acts as your fitness motivation?
I think my metabolism as such is very bad. So, if I do not train, I will become very fat. It works for my mental health and struggles to stay fit. It works as an antidepressant for me.
How do you balance food indulgence and fitness?
I really love eating sweets. That is my guilty pleasure. Whether I am feeling upset or good, I feel very attracted to mishti. I need to really try hard to control my desire. Some people can eat a lot but not get fat, but I am not that lucky. That is the sad part of my life. I eat mishti and everything every day like Aam Doi, Baked Rasgulla. After eating one day, I try to balance it with workouts for the next three days.
What is your fitness fashion like?
Short training pants, crop top, shoes and a beautiful-looking hairband. Sometimes, I like to wear dark colour lipstick too, when I am in a good mood. Some people ask why wear lipstick during a workout, but I really like that.
What is your general fitness mood like?
In the morning, I do not like to go to the gym at all. I would like to sleep all morning if possible. I really need to push myself to go to the gym. I need to wear something that looks nice and I need to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘Okay, now I am looking smart’. But even to wear something nice after waking up is a huge fight for me. Once I am dressed up, then no one can stop me.
Working out at home feels even worse. When I am working out at home, I play workout videos from YouTube on TV. Those videos help me to feel motivated. Many people think that all fitness freaks wake up in the morning and go to the gym, but that does not work for me. When I do serials, the shooting schedule is very hectic. Then my gym schedule gets disturbed but nothing can be done. When I have a regular shoot schedule, then I don’t get that much time to devote to my workout. I go to gyms that remain open a little late at night or early in the morning. But I am not an early morning person at all. My ideal time is 10.30am or 11am. I mostly prefer late nights if my shoot schedule is hectic.
How did you choose to stay fit during the lockdown?
I had some workout equipment at home. I don’t do machine workouts. It is either dumb-bell, kettlebell or barbell. I also wish to make a full gym set-up at home.
Sneak peek into Ushasie's fitness regime
Ushasie practised the kettlebell see-saw floor press with her trainer Anwar Wahhab. “My number one rule is to analyse and discuss my student’s goal. Then I ensure that my celebrity clients enjoy my plan and the whole process, or else they will find it hard to motivate themselves. I have balance of strength and cardio and mobility and also mental work, which is very essential. Ushasie is very hard-working and loves training from the heart. She doesn’t like to train when the AC is on full blast, which is very good as she enjoys a great sweat, which gets the blood flowing more and you get the muscles warmed up to extend themselves further. Kettlebell training can be quite challenging because all of the weight is below the handle in these metal swingers, they are more unstable than a dumb-bell, which means you have to use more balancing muscles to control the movement,” said Anwar, a strength and sports conditioning coach and owner of Awe Fitness.
Barbell Deadlift. “This is for core stability and grip strength,” said Anwar.
Kettlebell fixation. “In this overhead fixation, muscles worked are shoulders, back and the arms,” said Anwar.
Bar hang. “Hanging from pull-up bar is a way to open up shoulders pre and post-workout,” said Anwar.