In conversation with Trainer and Running Coach Nirupma Singh, Deepthi Velkur discovers why fitness needs to become a way of life.
“Fit is not a destination, it is a way of life”
A very fine quote indeed and a motto that Nirupma Singh lives by every single day.
She has been a trainer for the past 16 years and since 2016, she has also been a running coach at the Bangalore Fitneskool Runners club. For several years now, she has participated in multiple runs (5K all the way through to a full marathon) across the country and has qualified for the Boston marathon in the past 2 years.
Since 2014, Nirupma has been a podium finisher in several major running events in the country (amateur category) with some recent notable mentions being:
- Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM) 2018 – 1st place (Personal Best of 3h 36min)
- Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) 2017 -2nd place (Personal Best of 1hr 34min 41sec)
- Bengaluru Tougher 10K Challenge, 2017 – 1st place (Personal Best of 45min 13sec)
Running achievements aside, Nirupma has spent a lot of time and effort on certifications such as – Reebok, Advanced Personal Trainer, Big lift certification from Proton fitness academy, Pilates, stability ball training and resistance band training. She is a licensed Zumba instructor as well and is currently pursuing her ACE certification. With such an impressive resume to flaunt, it is no wonder that Nirupma is an inspiration to a lot of women who want to stay fit and achieve more.
I had a chance to talk with her on how fitness took a hold of her life, how she trains and also her plans for the future.
For someone who has never taken to any form of physical activity, how and when did you decide to take up fitness seriously?
I had a sedentary lifestyle until I was 30, got married and had two boys. With marriage came a whole set of responsibilities and I found myself juggling multiple roles in life – it was a tough, taxing and unenjoyable period. I was home-bound and not doing anything to satiate my creative desires. This put a tremendous strain on my physical and mental well-being and I was often unwell to a point that I fell into depression and had to seek medical help.
During this time, my sister recommended I join a group fitness class as that would help me get fit as well as meet new people. I remember day 1 where I could not complete even two jumping jacks – it was a bladder-bursting, dizzy experience. The sessions were tiring, my trainer was pushy and I swore never to show up ever again but the next day, I did show up and with each passing day I felt stronger and more positive. I stopped my medication and since then, I have never looked back.
Two years into fitness classes, my trainer suggested I do a certification and become a trainer. The thought appealed to me and I took up the Reebok certification and became an aerobics instructor. That worked as a catalyst for me to get more certifications and 16 years later, I still enjoy being a fitness coach. My association with Bangalore FitnesKool Runners started in 2016 with the training heavily focused on running.
Where does the training happen and what are the various kinds of training offered by you?
The classes are held at Decathlon, Sarjapur and Adarsh Palm Retreat, Bellandur. The training I provide at Decathlon is flexible and catered to each trainee, be it a newbie preparing for their first event or a seasoned runner looking to sharpen their skills. Each training plan is customized keeping in mind the current health, fitness level and most of all the final objective of the aspiring runner.
At Decathlon Sarjapur, I conduct three hours of strength training spread over two days, and in conjunction with this, I spend three days on a personalized run training plan. All plans are fluid and adapt as per progress and feedback received from the trainees.
At Adarsh Palm retreat, the objective is different – it is a more holistic approach prioritizing overall health and fitness for day to day activities.
My training plans include:
Strength training – Yoga and Pilates.
Body weight strength training – Flexibility and Balance workout, cardio workout, Step aerobics, Hi-Lo, Dance aerobics, Zumba, Plyometrics, speed and power drills, and HIIT.
Weight Training – using dumbbell, barbell, Kettlebell, resistance band and machine.
I also use virtual communication to reach out to my clients as this approach allows me to make specific fitness plans for them keeping in mind their end goal. For example, I use videos to demonstrate and guide clients on how to correctly perform my prescribed exercises, to simplify and understand dietary requirements, I use charts. These are very useful and simple for a client to understand.
For me, my primary goal is to keep my client’s injury free and enjoy their fitness experience.
How do you manage to keep yourself abreast with advancements in the field and what makes a good trainer or coach?
Fitness as a subject is a science and very dynamic in nature. As a trainer, I need to be aware of all advancements in the field and incorporate them in my programs. All my years of practical experience have helped me achieve more in a more efficient manner.
In my opinion, successful coaching starts with understanding the uniqueness of your trainees keeping in mind their emotions, temperaments and mentoring them accordingly. What I enjoy most is convincing my trainees to commit to a specific goal. This is a skill I believe every good trainer should possess.
What does your personal training schedule look like?
My weekly average including the sessions I conduct is 12-14 hours. For my running, I do intervals, tempo runs, and long runs spread over 3 days. My strength training is about 4 hours a week including runner-specific training and body weight training as well. To complement all of this, I do a bunch of cardio activities like the step or dance aerobics and Zumba. To add some recreation, I play badminton for about 4 hours a week.
For me, Monday is an absolute rest day.
Apart from being a fitness trainer, you also run marathons? What is it that drew you towards running?
In 2009, I was already working as a fitness trainer when a friend convinced me to run the Delhi Airtel Half Marathon. The idea was intriguing but daunting – it made me nervous but I just cannot say no to a challenge. I trained for 3 months and was able to successfully complete the Half Marathon and since then I have enjoyed running.
Do you run a lot of marathons every year and which has been your toughest race so far?
I do participate in a few annually – the TCS 10K, the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM), Shri Ram Properties Bengaluru Tougher 10k challenge, the Spirit of Wipro Bangalore, the TATA Mumbai Marathon (TMM) and the Bengaluru Marathon. In a season, I typically do several 10k and half marathons but only one full marathon.
The toughest race so far would have to be the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2015. Around the 27KM mark, I heard a pop in my calf after which the next 15KM became extremely painful but I managed to secure 4th position. As it turned out, I suffered a grade 2 calf tear.
At the time I was overly enthusiastic and did not realize that it would have been better to have walked out of the race rather than continue and further injure myself just to complete one race. I would never advise anyone to sacrifice their health and well-being just for a race.
What do you enjoy more – being a trainer or a marathon runner and why?
It would be an impossible task to decide between the two, as I find them both equally enjoyable and they complement each other. Empowering others to achieve their goals feels like an accomplishment in itself, and by participating in events I try to set an example by leading from the front. In my opinion, by being a runner I’m able to use my experience to further improve upon my training in a manner that no coach, who does not actually run, could.
Nutrition plays a major role in staying fit. How do your eating habits contribute to your overall fitness?
According to me, food is natural medicine, and I feel that healthy and clean food habits are the most important part of our fitness programme and overall health. I focus on eating a well-balanced, nutrient-dense food to fuel my performance. I eat food available from locally available ingredients and prepare them in a manner that I’m able to derive the desired nutrients from it. It is all a matter of eating the right food, in the right quantity at the right time. Pre-run/workout and post run/workout food must strike the correct balance between proteins and carbs to fuel the training activity and then later replenish it. Breakfast is the most important meal, apart from which I take short meals and mid-meals throughout the day that consist of fruits, nuts, and raw vegetables. As for snacks, I eat roasted seeds accompanied by 2-3 liters of water in a day. The secret to my energy is good food and correct eating habits.
What is the key to staying fit?
The key to staying fit is to sleep well, exercise and eat clean as this should be an integral part of your lifestyle. It allows for better physical and mental conditions and a more positive outlook to get through the mundane aspects of daily life.
What are your future plans for Bangalore Fitneskool Runners and yourself?
I intend to improve my training methods and results and push all my clients to reach the apex of their abilities. Also, I’d like to use this as a platform to spread the message of clean eating and being fit to a larger audience so as to help improve the condition of their health and lifestyle. I, personally, intend to continue to work on my craft with the same passion and enthusiasm as I have for the last 15 years, for the foreseeable years of my life.
For Nirupma, fitness is her passion, her calling, and her profession. Listening to her story is inspiration enough for me and many other women to do more.
Stay healthy, achieve more and inspire – we wish you more success Nirupma!