Words: Gautam Mahajan
‘By combining MMA, kickboxing and CrossFit under a single roof, Austin has turned the healthy living into a fun activity for all ages, rather than a boring grind, which turns most people off it’
EVER WONDERED IF MIXED MARTIAL ARTS (MMA) IS THE BEST WAY TO GET IN SHAPE? A TRICKY QUESTION, IF EVER THERE WAS ONE! SIMPLY BECAUSE THERE IS NO REAL ‘BEST’ WHEN IT COMES TO ONE’S FITNESS REGIMEN
MA, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai kickboxing and other martial arts are obviously a very good way to get in shape. But is it the best way? We join Austin Prakesh, owner and head instructor of Fitness Fight Club in Bengaluru for a training session to figure out for ourselves. His philosophy in life? “Protect yourself at all times.” He is redefining how the city (and country) looks at fitness. But his tryst with fitness began in Singapore, where he is originally from. “I started my training at the age of 16. When I was younger, I got into a fair bit of trouble but fortunately, it was my training that kept me focused and gave me goals to chase.” By combining MMA, kickboxing and CrossFit under a single roof, Austin has turned the healthy living into a fun activity for all ages, rather than a boring grind, which turns most people off it. “People are bored with gymming. Being big and bulky slows you down. Training should be all about speed and strength. It’s about concentration.”
MMA or any other form of ‘fighting’ has always been considered the realm of big, angry brutes always looking to stir trouble. But Austin dispels the myth by giving his own example. “We don’t fight, we train. That’s the key difference that most people don’t understand. This training is for everyone, no matter what your age, gender or size.” Why should the average Joe choose this kind of intense training over any other? “It’s about training your mind,” says Austin. “With our training regime, the person is more alert, responsive and aware of his or her surroundings. We gain more than just physical strength, we become mentally fit too.” Naturally, we get into conversation about his students. ‘My students inspire me. They’re the reason I do this. I’ve seen people who were diabetic, people who were affected by polio, and people who had never exercised their entire lives. I trained a guy who went from 116kg to 84kg in less than six months. Seeing the results and the happiness that it brings to people makes all the hard work worth it.” But is this just a passing fad or is there real scope for this sport to expand in India? “I think it’s going to explode.
We have a lot of foreign talent coming to India. We even have tournaments like the White Collar Bout (WCB), a charity event which is limited to kickboxing boxing and has people from all age groups. I have seen many talented fighters in the country who have trained with little to no facilities and money. Imagine giving them the right infrastructure and direction. There’s no limit to what they can achieve!” We all talk about taking care of our health, being responsible and respecting our bodies. But very few of us really do it. If there’s anything to learn from Austin, it’s that the right time to start improving your body and mind is NOW. So what’s your excuse?