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.
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!
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.
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.
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”.
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.
<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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . 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 Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.