Royal Ballet Company to Bollywood’s Boot camp Master: Cindy Jourdain talks about dance, fitness and Bollywood!
Ballet. Muay Thai. Functional Training. HIIT…you name it, its all at Cindy’s Boot camp gym in Mumbai, India.
I have been following Cindy’s Instagram posts for a few months now and loved each and every workout she posted. I even borrowed some of her moves to incorporate in my routine.
When curiosity killed the cat, I did some research on this expat who was toning some of the hottest women in India….and I found another surprise.
Cindy is a ballet dancer who used to dance for the Royal Ballet Company for many years. A dancer–and as many of you know, dancing is my passion. I wondered..how did she get from a prima ballerina to a fitness coach…From Europe to India?
So I sent her a quick note asking her if she would be open to doing an interview. Within a day she and I had connected and in less than a week, she had responded to all my questions whole heatedly.
Please join me in getting to know the very talented Cindy Jourdain:
1. Tell us how you got to Mumbai from Europe and what inspired you to open Cindy’s Boot camp?
Katrina Kaif is the one who flew me over From London to Mumbai to look after her fitness regime. Mumbai was never on the map but I’m very grateful to Katrina for the opportunity it gave me. Cindy’s Bootcamp started materializing in my head after about one year of being one and off in Mumbai. I immersed myself in the culture as much as possible and did some thorough market research before taking the plunge and settling here full time.
2. Your background in dance, theater, direction and fitness is impressive! How do you incorporate all these artistic forms into being a trainer and the owner of a boot camp that is so popular now in Mumbai? What exercises do you recommend that is inspired from all these forms into your current routine?
My background has forged a very strong personality, it is my credibility and what makes me different from everyone else here.
I wanted to be true to myself and use the experiences I had as an athlete, a performer and a woman to create something unique that made complete sense to me instead of joining another renowned fitness establishment for example. I’m likely to recommend sequences of movement just like a choreography in dance or flow in yoga, it’s the grounded seamless and yet powerful quality I’m after most of the time.
3. What type of routines did you have when you were in ballet? Being a professional ballerina requires hours of training and a special diet from what we have known from movies like black swan or reading up on it. Tell us about your routines in diet and training during that time.
Ballet is an incredibly demanding profession. There’s no in between. It’s all heart and sacrifice. That’s how I was brought up through the professional ballet schooling system even if I feel I grew up quite a balanced young woman with a real need for normality and a strong outside life.
A typical day for a professional ballerina with the Royal Ballet Company is ballet class in the morning for 1h30 to prep your body for the rest of the day and continuously work on your technique. The afternoon can have 2 to 3 rehearsals scheduled depending on the productions and the roles you are dancing. These rehearsals can be 1,2,3 hours plus….. Then it’s shower & make up time for the show usually at 7.30pm, you try and fit some food somewhere in the middle but everyday is go go go really and soon enough food takes a back seat if you’re not careful! The show comes down at 10.30pm and it’s late before you’re home. I have done these days over and over again for 15 years professionally. There’s no time for much but ballet! When it comes to ultimate health and being able to avoid injuries as well as sustaining a lean yet strong physique it’s a fine balance really, the truth is there’s very little recovery time or extra time for a good strength and conditioning program (which is always prescribed in sports for athletes along with their specific training), ballerinas also can’t rehearse on a full stomach, there’s a lot of snacking involved and most of us really end up over training! Is it healthy in the long run probably not but the body adapts and the mind conquers so…I think there’s much more awareness now though and both artists and management are trying to make the right choices when it comes to schedule, fuel, recovery and training
4. Today, strength and fitness is coming before weight loss and looking painfully thin. If someone has limited strength and wants to get to being able to do a pullup or gain strength, how does one even start? Any specific recommendations on a weekly routine? Does this vary for men and women? How long would it take?
I’m glad it’s going this way even if I’m pretty sure we’ll see the skinny frame back into fashion soon with the same industries backing it up, It’s the way the cookie crumbles, the world is after constant recycling of the same thing repackaged differently, redesigned, revamped, re branded, you get my point. I never give generic advice in interviews, there isn’t one person the same but what I will say is that everyone can get their first pull up or back squat their own body weight if that’s what their goal is. You start by identifying your weaknesses and addressing your bad lifestyle habits then you put a plan together which has to be thought through with the person responsible for the plan and implemented until the end.
5. You have some popular faces coming to your boot camp classes in all ranges of age. The current talk of town Sara Ali Khan (Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh’s’s daughter making her debut shortly) has lost lots of weight and is a regular at your classes. How did she do it and how did you train her to lose all the extra weight to become fabulously fit? Any specific routines and eating plan she followed?
Sara joined the classes recently and enjoyed the group atmosphere. She was eager to do well in class but the weight loss is a result of what she did before she joined so you would have to ask her that question. At the camp I saw an improvement in her mental focus, her form and general conditioning. The celebs or top influencers who join my classes let go of their profile as soon as they step through the door for that hour and train hard just like me, just like you.
6. What type of diet do you recommend your celebrity or normal clients? The bootcamp classes are quite taxing on ones body…can you give a sample meal plan you recommend in India for vegetarians?
One diet never fits all. The idea is to find nutritious food that suit people’s body and an eating plan that fits their lifestyle. After my classes people have to rehydrate and make sure that fuel gets back in. There’s a recovery day in between classes and I talk about anti inflammatory food often to contribute towards optimal health. India has a lot of superfoods and Ayurvedic herbal remedies available such as wheatgrass, chia seeds, flaxseeds, moranga & triphala powder to name a few which are really soothing to the body and packed with anti oxidants, raw proteins, essential vitamins and minerals suitable for both veg& non veg. Grains and pulses such as Dahl, beans & quinoa for example contain a decent amount of proteins and will suit vegetarian requirements however it’s more macro ratio, quality, quantity, timing & frequency that will make a difference when it comes to fuelling for training
7. What is something you personally have learned and have achieved since moving to Mumbai from Europe? Has the way you eat changed since you are in India now and a fitness instructor vs a ballerina?
I’ve learned to be more patient, I’ve learned to be more present and in the moment, I know that I can survive and thrive on my own anywhere in the world and that’s a big one for me!
Regarding my own diet since changing industry and moving to India, I tend to eat more healthy fat and less refined carbohydrates. I stay away from dishes full of sauces and try and stick to my mind & body beautiful mantra as much as possible which involve sleeping 8hours, drinking plenty of water, staying away as much as possible from wheat & dairy, alcohol, no caffeine & no nicotine.
There you go folks…a winning combination of art and fitness along with the determination to be the best. I definitely learned a lot from her and will be in her class on my next trip to Mumbai for sure;-) See a taste of her class here:
For more information on training with Cindy, see her details below:
He is known through India as Katrina Kaif’s trainer. The man who changed the body of one of the sexiest women in India also has a gym in England, trains his clients there and has time to be with Katrina Kaif 24/7.
He recently also took care of the fitness needs of the entire Dream Team Tour in the USA. In an extremely candid interview on the most natural way to train your body, how to view fitness, and all things Katrina Kaif, Reza Katani talks to me on Christmas Eve to gear everyone up for their 2017 resolutions! Please listen to the audio interview in the link below:
Further details on Reza Katani:
As humans, we end up meeting the people in our lives that serve the purpose of what we need at that moment. It was back in May this year that I contacted Yasmin Karachiwala enquiring about getting help on a daily gym routine. That experience and the advice she gave me at the time didn’t sink in. Just a week or two later I came down with a bad case of bronchitis and pneumonia and was literally in bed for 2 weeks, coughing and not eating much. What really bothered me was how I was feeling physically. Physically, I had gained 20 lbs. since end of 2011. Now for some that may be their natural weight. I was used to being very fit through my life, so for me this was unusual. Mentally, I felt shut down and needed some fun. The icing on the cake was that I couldn’t fit into any of my size 2 clothes. I turned to wearing leggings and oversized tops to hide myself.
Come October, I decided I needed to fix something. I didn’t have control over certain things in my life, but I did have control over my own actions and my body. I remembered Body Image and the numerous articles I had researched on Yasmin. I had also researched another gym, Zarine Watson’s Watson Fitness. I contacted both gyms and decided I would do a combo. I made appointments with both the day after I would get to Mumbai. I wasn’t going to waste any time. Yes, I would pay a lot, but if I am to take this seriously, the returns of my investment would be great. What happened next was something I never expected.
That Saturday, my first appointment was with Watson Fitness in the morning. Fortunately, I called to confirm my appointment and was told “Maam had an emergency and left town and cannot meet you today; we will contact you for Monday”. WHAT!? I had made an appointment 3 weeks back and they are just telling me now? I voiced my displeasure at how unprofessional this was, saying I did not have time to dilly dally around. I was there for a purpose of 2 weeks and 2 days off would not help. By Monday, I wanted to be ready with a plan and start action. 2 hours later someone from Watson Fitness called me back saying “Well, we spoke to Maam and come by and we will talk to you”. Right then and there I decided this was not the kind of gym I trusted. My day to day activities already felt like a chore, then having to deal with not knowing if my training sessions would be honored seemed like a grueling task. And BTW, wasn’t “Maam” out of town? How can she meet me suddenly? Disappointed and disgruntled by the shadiness of Watson Fitness, I decided to keep them on the side. I called Yasmin’s Body Image and was told to come down at my convenience around 1230 and they would meet me. Wow..now that was easy! So I went. I got there a little early and their assistant, Bharti, asked me some questions, to fill out a background form of my height, weight, what medicines I took, what my food chart looked like, what my goals were. Then came Urvi, the manager of the gym. She sat with me as I told her what I wanted to accomplish in the 2 weeks. I asked her what was reasonable and she told me “I can’t promise you anything because it is up to you, but if you follow what we tell you, I guarantee you will see results in 2 weeks”. Hmm..ok…makes sense. I asked her about cost and can I also purchase some nutrition counseling? “There is no need to purchase; we will guide you thru it as it comes with the workout packages”. Money saved! I was already on a budget and this helped me tremendously. So I asked her, what do I need to do? Just as she was bringing up the appointment schedule, Yasmin walks in and says Hi and asked me how I was doing? I said ok. And then the discussion started as to why I was feeling unmotivated. . And between Urvi and Yasmin, I got some of the best mental advice I could. Yasmin told me stories about people in more difficult circumstances than me and look how great they are dealing with it. So what if you got dealt a different hand than everyone, its all in the mind, she said. 30 minutes or so of conversation and I felt so good! This was meant to be. How down to earth was this lady who could be credited for some of Bollywood’s fittest beauties. I felt so comfortable around them.
They booked me for the same day for an intro session with a trainer and I left, looking at the wall of articles on all her celebrity success stories. I was still somewhat apprehensive at what results a common person, like myself, can get. Sure, Yasmin was responsible for Deepika’s killer body, Katrina’s fit frame for Sheila Ki Jawaani and Dhoom 3, Sonakshi’s transformation from fat to fit, Kareena Kapoor and Illeana D’Cruz’s lean body.. But they are celebrities; can it happen for us common people? I was skeptical. I went at 7pm and trained with one of the seasoned trainers, Simpson. He immediately voiced his opinion on how the energy around me felt low to him. “What was going on?”, he asked me. I guess it was noticeable. After about 30 min, from the stress of flying my back went out. I told him and he immediately stopped my workout, and sent someone to go and get me some balm. I left with instructions on how to care for it. 4 days later, I went back and that was when it really started.
I was put on a regime every morning of 1 hour of reformer Pilates (privately) and 1 hour (more like 40 minutes) on the treadmill walking with a technology called TechnoShape. (see below). In the evenings, I would weight train and another 40 min of Technoshape on the treadmill. I showed up for my first class at 7am on the dot. For anyone who knows me, I will do ANYTHING not to wake up early and do anything, much less go to the gym before noon. But there I was, ready for a session at the gym at 7am! Prashant, my Pilates instructor, took me through exercises that would ease the tension in my lower back and then told me we will concentrate on just strengthening my abs. I had taken Pilates before as physically therapy not long ago and was familiar with it. Prashant also watched my form carefully, adjusting as needed and gave me great analogies on how to align my body correctly (“bring yourself down one vertebrae at a time…like you are putting a sticker on a paper”). I am not kidding, 60 min later, my back felt like nothing had happened to it at all. I was cured…cured and in awe. After that session, they put a thick belt around my waist, and hooked that belt (that looked like something you would wear in a space shuttle with two metal holes sticking out in the front) and connected me to a small machine that sat next to the treadmills and a heart rate monitor was attached to me as well. With 40 min on the clock, I was instructed to just walk on the treadmill so that my heart rate stayed between 110 and 130. As I leisurely walked, the belt would inflate, deflate and vibrate every 10 seconds. Interesting, I thought, wonder what this is for. On my way back to the hotel, I did some research on Technoshape and was amazed at what kind of results this technology delivered.
Was it a fad? I wasn’t sure but I believed in what Yasmin had prescribed. My evening session was definitely not as easy as the morning session. Since my back was cured, my weights trainer, Rupesh, decided to push me to my potential. And so we did a high intensity circuit training routine, which consisted of free weights, body weights, TRX, Bosu Ball, Power Plates, Functional Training machine, and the Smith Machine. Phew..every few exercises, he would put me either on the cross trainer, treadmill or had me jog up and down the power plate machine for 2 minutes. I was also told to do exercises like lunges or squats with my own body weight, do 20 reps, then pulse for 20 reps, then hold for 20 counts. This would isolate the muscle and build it stronger. Something I had done in yoga before but had no idea why. 60 min later I was begging him for a break. Sure, take 5 min and then go ahead and do your Technoshape session. Taking in my heart rate was already super elevated from the workout, I had to walk slower on the treadmill to keep my HR in check between 110-130. I tried to keep it at an even 127. And so I continued this for almost 10 days…with a break in between for Diwali, yet I had to keep up cardio the days I was not training, 1 hour in morning, 1 hr in the evening, keeping my HR in check. Here I was, not having to run for 45 min on a treadmill and enjoyed walking and I was supposedly going to get results. But what I feared the most, was every day, as soon as I walked into Body Image, I was asked what I ate the day before. And that kept me in check. Urvi would message me daily to ensure I was eating right and if I had any questions for my workouts. I was fasnicated by the Power Plate machine which is a vibrational technology which you can do your excercises on. It is definitely more difficult to squat on a machine that’s vibrating under your feet. These technologies were missing in the USA. I was hooked onto both TechnoSahpe and Power Plates and there was still one more new technology which I couldn’t find in the US, provided by Body Image called ATS (Altitude Training). In this, you wear a mask that simulates the oxygen level at higher altitudes. This will stretch your body to work harder and burn fat. As time went, I became more comfy with the trainers, they worked me harder. Prashant made me do a full leg work day on the Wunda chair, (another Pilates concept) whilst Rupesh made sure my workouts were fun and filled with energy,. I told him I had seen a video on Instagram of Alia Bhatt doing her cardio in between her circuit training on the trampoline and how fun it looked and he immediately added it in (It is just as fun as it looks, but after training hard with weights and then trying to do 55 seconds on the trampoline, I was ready to get off after a minute!). He told me one day I had a surprise waiting for me, and the surprise was to do one squat, then jump on and off a small step, then 2 squats, 2 jumps, 3 squats, 3 jumps. Up to 10. As crazy as it sounds, it was FUN.
So, as I went, day after day, spotting the occasional celebrity coming in to the gym for their training, I felt like I was making friends, feeling mentally better (that was NOT my goal when I went in) and I started feeling fit. The kind of fitness I have not felt in years. At the end, we did my weight and body fat again. I had not lost much weight, (probably because I was eating out so much, it makes a difference) but in just 10 days, my body fat percentage went down about 3%. To get results like that, people usually train for over a month! My abs felt stronger and I could see less fat and more muscle around them. My legs and hips had definitely gone down in size as I fit into jeans I had not used in over 3 months.
The last day at the gym, I felt almost sad, like I was leaving family. I had joked that I was spending so much time there, it felt like home. But it was….it was fun, I looked forward to it daily. And I learned a ton! I knew the right exercises to keep me going and still have fun. The day I left I thanked Yasmin for everything and told her, her team was excellent. She asked me “but how do you feel mentally now?” Now THAT is what caring is about. Honestly, how I felt really should not make a difference to her; after all, I am just one more person who is coming and then going. But she cared, she asked, and I had to tell her the truth: I felt much better and it was Body Image that was to be credited for it.
So here I am, back home now, armed with the knowledge of how to further my progress. I had done the kick start, but being back to work, traveling across the USA and still being to keep up a gym routine…will it be possible? I think so. When you have as much time as celebrities to work out, you do it, the 3.5 hours a day, but when you are working, then a good 1.5 hour is enough. Once I get my results, I can tone it back to 1 hour a day 4 days a week. But for now, I am strict on 6 days a week. And the best part is, I can walk on the treadmill and not have to hurt my body in running and other boring exercises.
So, thank you Body Image, thank you Urvi and thank you Yasmin! I hope I can interview you for my blog soon so I can share some of our secrets with my friends and readers! I had certainly met the group of people who served my purpose for what I needed. I can count myself as lucky.
Below is some information on the technologies of Technoshape and Power Plates: