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The Man With The Uptown Funk

The Man With The Uptown Funk

Some dancers leave you spellbound, not just when they dance, but even when they talk about dance. Dhiraj Bakshi is one such dancer.

Behind The Motivation

Behind The Motivation

It has been a few months now of people calling me “inspirational” and “a fitness motivation”. I am yet to relate to those labels at all, but am very grateful that people view me as such. The TwitterGetsFitter movement allowed me the honour of helping […]

Gyms Can Be Intimidating…

Gyms Can Be Intimidating…

If you’re someone who’s just starting their fitness journey, the hardest part is usually not the actual workout, but the fact that you need to step into a gym. Sound familiar? I am sure it does. Gyms can be intimidating, and I’m here to help you deal with it.

There is no reason to feel bad about being scared of the gym, it’s normal. It tends to get intimidating for beginners, a story I share with all of you. I’m taking this opportunity to talk to you about my experience with the gym and working out in general, how I didn’t start out on an ideal note either, and how I’ve come to own MY space in the world of fitness.
Rewind to 2012 where I was living on pizzas and whiskey (read more about that here). I got the occasional “look at that double chin” and “you don’t wear dresses, you wear sacks to cover your body” and I was okay with it. It never made me feel bad, but it did hit some part of me that wanted to prove to the world that hey, I can get rid of this double chin, or I can fit into a bodycon too. I’d go to the gym, thinking “Let’s do this, let’s burn that fat!” This would all change as soon as I’d step into the gym though — looking at everyone working out and sweating all around me, lifting weights that were probably heavier than I was (no kidding, some of those men didn’t seem human okay!) I’d suddenly feel low, scared, even conscious of the shorts and loose shirt I was wearing while everyone around me sported Nikes and Pumas. I’d quietly go to the treadmill because that was the only machine I understood. I’d run, sweat it out, and that’s it, done. I didn’t know what else to do, and I was too scared to ask anyone because I thought people would laugh at me or judge me for being such a noob wanting to be a part of this space. I left the gym in 20 days when I realised I was doing nothing other than running. I started running at an area near my house. Again, I’d run post 9pm, when I knew there was no one to watch me. I’d choose the darkest of roads to run on, you know, just in case someone saw me and decided to laugh. All this while I was avoiding telling anyone that I had started working out. Not that I was obese or anything, I just had a whole lot of body image issues. I was really hard on myself, I’d judge myself too much, and there was never a positive thought about what I did. I was insecure, unhappy and negative about life in general, an attitude that made it’s way into my fitness routine too. I was so low on confidence & so harsh on myself that I’d not talk to strangers even in groups because “omg what will they think” I look back on those days and shudder. Dark, dark days.

I slowly got the confidence to run in more public areas (this happened as I realised I could run easily and the whole process of running was turning out to be fun) But I’d still run at 9pm.
Before I realised how much time had passed, it was summer and it was time to hit the pool. Swimming is something I had learnt to enjoy after being trained by the best in the business back in 2004. Swimming was my space, swimming was a fun workout, and I slowly started seeing results and started tuning in to my body while I was exercising. I realised if I paid attention to my body, I knew exactly what muscle I was working on, and I’d be able to tone it better by improving my posture and form. I invested in sportswear and realised it added to the fun.
Then it struck me- no one at the gym has the time to judge you. No one at the gym really CARES, to be honest. Everyone who works out is busy tuning in to their own workout, they’re concentrating on their bodies, their workouts, and they have all started somewhere. They weren’t just born into the gym. And then came the realisation that no one really judged me for running the way I did, or lifting the way I did. There were a few helpful souls who’d come and point out a wrong form once in a while, and I realised it was a positive community aiming to empower each other. This was when I realised I need to tell everyone starting off that listen guys, NO ONE IS HERE TO JUDGE YOU!
When people ask me to train with them, then immediately say “no please you carry on we could never match up, you’ll laugh at us” – Nope, I won’t. I will be there with you asking you to move, to charge ahead, and I will understand the struggle. I have been there too, and I’m not going to forget it. Those who have worked out with me know this about me, they know I’d not laugh if they screw up. Screwing up is NORMAL!
Will you allow me to make this a little simple for you? You just need to read carefully, and trust me with this, okay? Hope it isn’t too much to ask for.
1. A new gym is intimidating
True. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help. Go to a trainer and ask him/her about the gym. Chances are that they will help you in your workouts for the first few days. If they don’t, you need to find yourself a new space. And it’s hardly ever happened that a trainer has never helped a newbie. So you’re gonna be fine, okay?
2. Everyone is a supermodel, what am I doing here?
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the gym. Let me tell you this: gyms have every kind of person — young, old, skinny, heavy, male and female. Every person has a goal, and is working towards it. Going to the gym is like going to a new school — it feels strange and most of us hate it. But you get through it and you do fine. Promise.

3. All that machinery… I’m sure I will make a fool of myself.
The fear of looking stupid is something we all experience when trying new things. Once again, approach the gym trainer. Plus your fellow gym buddies will help you out, they always do! But do not interrupt someone while they’re working out. Just don’t, okay?
4. Everyone is looking at me…
Feel like that loose shirt and old shorts will make you stick out in the sea of beautiful bodies draped in expensive sportswear? Ok, let’s come back to reality now; 90% of the people at the gym are sweaty, out of breath and just trying to get through it. The other 10% are too busy looking at themselves to be looking at you. See, you need to remember this: everyone is working towards improving themselves. If someone has the time to look at you to judge you, they’re not working hard enough. Their loss.
5. I think I will get bored.
Get a workout buddy! (Pssst… Try TwitterGetsFitter!)
You’re underestimating the power and influence of a workout partner. You’ll love them on those days you can’t get out of bed, or can’t seem to finish a set, or are bored generally and need to try something new at the gym. Trust me, invest in a workout buddy and you will thank them later 🙂
Working out requires a lot of effort — it’s not easy, but those who keep at it will always see results. Plus, it’s not fair to victimise the people who put in the time and effort to actually achieve their goals. You don’t need this sort of negativity in your life. Intimidation is an unavoidable part of life. There will always be someone who you feel is better than you in some way, but this doesn’t mean you should run from those feelings.
You cannot compare your Day 1 to someone else’s Day 365.
Charge on folks, charge right ahead and own your space!

This post was authored by Protima Tiwary, and originally appeared on DumbbellsAndDrama
How Long Does It Take To Change Your Life?

How Long Does It Take To Change Your Life?

What if I told you, you could change your life and be a whole new person in as little as a month? Sound unbelievable? Read on to know more!

Home Workouts : Workout with Water Bottles

Home Workouts : Workout with Water Bottles

I’m a big fan of home workouts. They offer me the convenience of choosing when to workout, and the ‘where’ is taken care of. This is particularly helpful on days when lethargy rears its ugly head. Working out at home means I don’t need to […]

The High Priestess of HIIT

The High Priestess of HIIT

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who hated to go for runs with her Army officer dad. Fast-forward about 15 years, and that little girl is Protima Tiwary — First of her name, High Priestess of HIIT, Begum of Burpees, Rajkumari of Rock-Hard Abs, Duchess of Dumbbells and Drama.

Protima Tiwary of DumbbellsAndDrama

I met Protima thanks to online trolls. Probably the only time something positive has come of that! When I started my feeble attempt at what is now TwitterGetsFitter, I was on the receiving end of a great deal of internet hatred. Most of them called me a copycat, and named other women who were also sharing workout routines and fitness motivation. Well, duh! I never presumed I was the first to do it, but then, logic is wasted upon such minds.

Regardless, I used the hatred to make new friends. I reached out to the women they had named, tagging them all, and asking whether we could collaborate.

And she said yes!

Simpsons - She Said Yes

And there began a fitness and fauji-kid friendship — though the ‘fitness’ aspect is heavily skewed!

But it wasn’t always that way, as Protima very candidly admits. “In 2011, I was a different person. I was lazy, I was insecure, and I ate my feelings. 2 days of the week saw pizza and whiskey be “dinner”. I was in a strange town, with strange people, living strange experiences. There was no time for fitness. I needed to first worry about getting to work on time after cooking early in the morning. I needed to figure out the cheapest means of living. I needed to save money. I needed to meet people, and make new friends. I needed to do well at the job. I needed to catch up on sleep. I didn’t need fitness then.”

2012 saw a change in lifestyle, with Protima having a stable job, and moving back to her hometown to live with her parents. But still, fitness was never her focus. Pizza and whiskey made it to 4 days of the week.

Pizza and whiskey
(Image used for representational purposes only)

And then 2013 happened. So what changed? My professional life got even better, personal life got a little complicated, and I had some free time to dedicate to myself,” says Protima. “There was no one to share pizza and whiskey with, so my diet improved.  I started running. A couple of people inspired me to continue, sharing their running and fitness stats with me, and egging me on to set and achieve my goals. Since I had a lot of free time on my hands, I clocked in more hours at the gym. I want to make it clear though, I had not realised the importance of fitness yet at this point. I was simply killing time, accepting fitness challenges out of pure boredom.”

Protima talks about how she withdrew into a shell for those few months, something she admits to doing (but doesn’t advocate!) when she’s upset or having a rough time personally. Friends whom she met upon resurfacing couldn’t stop gushing over how great she looked, and how much weight she had lost. I hadn’t realized what changes my body had gone through. I weighed myself at the gym – from 65kgs in 2011, to 60kgs in January 2013, to 51kg in September 2013.”

And there began the addiction. Nothing gets you hooked like seeing results.

Protima Tiwary works out with her partner

From then on, Protima approached fitness more consciously, concentrating on her runs and setting pace goals for herself. For her, running wasn’t just exercise, it was her “me” time. “I could spin stories in my head while running, think of new blog topics, have a near-perfect conversation in my head with someone, fantasise about a moment, anything! Running was that one thing that allowed me to be myself, without feeling the need to invite other people to join in. At a time when I was at a personal low, I started looking forward to the early mornings so that I could go over everything in my head, motivate myself, fight with myself and charge ahead. Now that I think about it, running is the only thing that kept me sane.”

Protima credits running with improving her health, her stamina, her diet, and her mood. I started aiming for good timing, some tone and of course, some muscle. I started taking food seriously. I wanted to be toned, not skinny.” And the positivity wasn’t just on the inside. “I was not double checking any dress before buying it, I was not scared of wearing most of the clothes I used to avoid once upon a time, I was walking into clubs, avoiding alcohol and dancing my heels off every weekend. This was a huge confidence booster for someone who preferred staying in the shadows. And every time someone asked me what made me this happy, I would say “I’ve started running”.

Protima Tiwary

As her fitness journey progressed, Protima found her workout needs evolving. I discovered HIIT when I was falling short on time and still wanted to make sure I got time to work out. From 2 hours at the gym I started 30min at home with these HIIT circuits. They weren’t being spoken about much in the market, so all my research was done online. I had stamina to back me up, so I started seeing results within a month (no kidding!) And I have been addicted since then.”

Speaking of results, ladies & gentlemen, meet Protima Tiwary’s abs.

Protima Tiwary abs

<moment of silence>

Right, back to talking about HIIT.

Protima has, for the past couple of years, been an advocate and ambassador for HIIT in India. The workout has only recently gotten much attention in the country, but Ms. Tiwary is now quite the veteran. A huge fan of the interval training format, Protima wishes more people realised that they needn’t spend hours at the gym; that they can achieve the same (if not better) results, in potentially half the time.

(I don’t think I need much more convincing than those abs, to be honest!)

Before I let Protima get back to her workout, she had to endure the signature TDF Rapid Fire. Muhahaha!

The Dance Floor: Which city in the world is your happy place?

Protima Tiwary: As an Army kid, I’ve traveled quite a lot. But I’d say Pune is home. If I had to move anywhere else, I’d choose Goa.

TDF: Tell us one thing most people don’t know about you.

Protima: I am obsessive AF when it comes to time management. Can’t deal with people who can’t keep time… I hate waiting. (I can attest to the fact that this is a fauji thing. We’re all like this. You love us anyway.)

TDF: Is there a food that you simply can’t resist, fitness be damned?

Protima: Desserts! Life is so unfair 🙁

TDF: What’s your greatest fear?

Protima: That I will be left all alone without my people. I think I have abandonment issues, and I have no qualms accepting it.

TDF: In an alternate reality, you would be…

Protima: A star travel show host/ writer, who is super duper hot (ummm, that part’s already sorted!) and gets paid to travel the world!

TDF: What’s your favourite way to spend a day?

Protima: An ideal day looks like a great workout, a swim, some time spent doing nothing by the pool/on the beach, evening dinner dates, and some dancing.

Protima Tiwary at the beach

TDF: You’re pretty much fitness goals for most of us. Do you have a fitness idol you look up to?

Protima: Hahahaha! Thank you for that. I’m still coming to terms with that 😀 Umm, not really, I just admire all fit women. This isn’t a competition, so I wouldn’t say so-and-so is better. Everyone has a journey. But I do have a girl crush on Bani J!

TDF: What’s your guilty pleasure?

Protima: A good massage, with some cake and a glass of Cosmopolitan. OHMIGOD! (Gotta say, that does sound good!)

TDF: Aur Protima Tiwary ji, aapke yeh killer abs ka raaz?

Protima: HAHAHA!! I wish I could sound professional and super serious here, but I don’t have anything technical to share. I eat what I want to, I guess I have been active most of my life so I have a fast metabolism. But I do concentrate on core exercises, plus most of these body weight exercises help with the core. I’m sprinting these days instead of running marathons to work further on the core. Plus, I plank as soon as I see a bed or clear flooring instead of dropping down dead to sleep. 😀


Protima Tiwary is based out of Pune, India and can be contacted via e-mail at dumbbellsanddrama@gmail.com . Think you can manage the willpower to plank instead of faceplant when you see a bed? Then you need to follow Protima on her blog, Dumbbells and Drama. You can also find her (and her signature brand of fitness inspiration) on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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