Transformation is the new buzzword for those aspiring to look their best.
At one time, ‘perfect’ bodies and faces were the privilege of movie stars, sports icons and models. A sculpted torso and a glowing skin called for personal trainers and makeovers that ‘ordinary’ people didn’t have the means for. That’s changed. Transformation is the new buzzword for those aspiring to look their best. “You don’t have to be a celebrity to undergo a transformation now. All you need is a basic level of fitness, enthusiasm, commitment, and a certified trainer,” asserts Rajat Goel, the European Powerlifting Champion 2017 and winner of Musclemania 2015.
Fuelling focus on appearance
A well-sculpted body is more of a fashion statement than wearing Chanel. Being lean and fit is guaranteed to increase your social media following and popularity. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest are flush with pictures of men and women flashing tight tummies and dimple-free thighs, glistening biceps and triceps and performing all kinds of physical feats: headstands, handstands, deep-sea diving or paragliding in the mountains. One look at the FB wall of Foreverfit, one of India’s largest fitness communities, throws up multiple testimonials and video clips of “transformed” men and women baring their toned bodies and performing fitness stunts to prove their athletic prowess.
One such tale is that of Ahmedabad girl Sapna Vyas Patel’s ‘How I Lost 33 kgs in 1 Year’, which captures her transformation with ‘before’ pictures of herself at age 19, when she weighed 86 kg, juxtaposed beside the ‘after’ ones a year later, a slim and sophisticated 53 kg, with a waist size of 24 inches. “I did it,” she announces at the end of her YouTube video, in the manner of someone who has won a lottery. Clearly, she has: 5 years later, Sapna boasts about having over 1 million followers on Instagram, the favoured medium of body worshippers. Achieving a physical transformation is indeed akin to victory, say experts. “The element of winning against the odds makes this a heroic act,” says Reena Nath, Delhi-based psychotherapist and editor of Healing Room.
An opportunity for self-improvement
There’s simply no excuse to accept your obesity or acne any more. “Everything you need to know about diets, workouts, cosmetic procedures and experts is available online,” says Avni Kaul, Delhi-based nutritionist. A mere click without a whole lot of money brings men and women closer to the kind of diet, fitness routine or trainer they aspire for. Also, there’s a gamut of experts around to help almost anyone achieve a makeover: fitness trainers, nutritionists, life coaches, running coaches. You can sign up for a new body, since fitness coaches are all set to fulfil the 90 Days to a New You sort of fantasy. “It’s fashionable to be fit,” says Hasmeet Singh Bindra, functional fitness trainer at iFitness Gym and Black’s Gym. Bindra is part of a new generation of desi fitness professionals poised to “empower” young men and women to strengthen their abs, gain muscle, improve posture, walk tall.
Personalised plans lead the way
“There’s been a huge rise in awareness about nutrition over the past few years,” says Kaul, whose clients range from 16-year-olds to those in their 70s. Like other new-era professionals, Kaul’s easy accessibility, flexible charges and focus on “personalised” eating plans make sure she has a packed schedule. It’s more than just diet though. “People in their 20s and 30s invest in regular rounds of cosmetology clinics, one-on-one Pilates sessions, and detoxification packages at spas,” says Jia Singh, who blogs about lifestyle trends on wanderingforwellness.com.
Cosmetic makeovers abound
“Being born beautiful isn’t important any more, since there is an army of procedures and experts out there to help every woman look her best,” says Nonita Kalra, Editor, Harper’s Bazaar India. Advances in cosmetology have made minimally invasive procedures such as Botox, fillers, and laser treatments accessible to everyone. “My younger clients want a sharp nose, better facial contours, a softer-looking jaw, lip augmentation, or facial sculpting for high cheekbones,” says Dr Indu Ballani, dermatologist and MD, Ballani Skin Aesthetics, Delhi. “Plastic surgery is no longer the prerogative of wealthy people in the beauty and media business. Younger, career-oriented women look at EMI options offered by some clinics,” says Dr Sandhya Balasubramanyan, a plastic surgeon, at Columbia Asia Hospital.
The limitations of change
Despite the optimism elicited by the hope of transformation, there’s no escaping the fallout of unrealistic expectations and extreme measures. Many, keen to look like models, end up developing eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Guys who want the lean muscular bodies of their superheroes often turn to body-building steroids. “These are dangerous in the doses used by aspiring bodybuilders,” says Dr Satish Bhardwaj, general physician and MD, Goodmans Rescue, New Delhi.
Ultimately, adopting a balanced approach to the desire for self-improvement is essential. “It’s important to remember that the desire to transform is a childhood fantasy, much like Cinderella or the Frog Prince, which may not materialise in the real world,” says Nath.