For Akshay Kumar impossible is nothing. He makes jumping from a helicopter look like a walk in the park, he wears a python around his neck as if it's a scarf, switches being the best action hero to the best comic hero, and yet be a grounded family man. He does with ease all the things that for most people over 40 are unimaginable. How does he pull it off? Find out.
People perceive you as one of the most energetic actors in Bollywood. Why do you think this is so?
I like to keep fit, I am a very positive person and I am humble. I know that my success is as much because of God's grace as it is because of my hard work. I guess it is these positive attitudes that people recognise.
What does energy mean to you?
It's all about being positive. It is also about being fit, healthy and having a lean body. Today's mantra, I feel, is 'health matters most'. Life is super-hectic—you barely have time to take a deep breath, and the stress never seems to go away. To cope with this, you need to be physically fit and be able to find your inner balance. This applies to everyone, not just to those in the show business.
Does being energetic to you mean always being active?
We all interpret energy in our own way. For some, being energetic is about being active; for others, it is about meditating. Martial arts, for instance, is a mix of activity and meditation.
How important is vitality in life to you?
Why just to me? We all need to have vital energy to lead a happy life. We need that vital energy for everything—to take care of our families, to work, to travel and even to spend some time with our own selves.
What roles have hard work and energy played in your success?
A major role—without hard work you rarely get anywhere. Hard work, coupled with God's grace and lots of luck have all contributed to my success.
To what do you attribute your high energy and vitality? Is it an energetic mind that leads to an energetic body or vice versa?
To a lot of exercising and praying. I don't think an energetic mind and an energetic body are mutually exclusive. You need to be fit both mentally and physically to lead a complete, fulfilled life. Whenever my schedule permits, I follow a very simple principle: early to bed and early to rise.
Why according to you do people get so stressed out? What do you think affects their energy levels?
I think too much competition and negativity lead to a lot of stress, which gets your energy levels down. I believe in positive energy.
Do you think a person is naturally energetic, or can external factors help?
All of us are born with an inner reserve of energy that starts to drain as we grow. Exercise, martial arts and prayers can help us keep our energy levels high.
What do you do to keep your body and mind active?
I play basketball thrice a week to stay fit. I also walk and trek to stay fit and keep my stamina up. I frequent the gym, swim with my son, meditate, jog, and practise yoga and martial arts.
It's important to vary your fitness routine so that you don't get bored. Yoga, meditation and martial arts help in staying physically fit and bringing about the inner balance.
Do you think age has anything to do with an individual's energy levels? What has been your experience?
As you grow older, your energy levels tend to diminish. You need the right kind of food, activity and meditation to deal with everyday pressures of living.
Eating the right kind of nutritious food is as essential as keeping your body in shape. I eat everything in moderation, including parathas and kheer.
Does your training in martial arts help you combat stress and the lows of life?
Any kind of exercise—yoga, gym, running, trekking, playing a sport or martial arts can help fight stress and depression. I do all of that, and the results are for all to see.
Do you have any role models of energy? Can you name one individual who you feel is a fountain of energy?
Mr Amitabh Bachchan. He has been in the industry for the last 40 years while we [his colleagues of my generation] have been here only for 15 years. To become a king, you don't need money and power. You must have positive energy and Mr Bachchan has that in heaps.
What advice would you give the readers of Complete Wellbeing to be energetic and happy always?
Agility and athleticism are more important than building huge muscles. Any obsession with muscle-building is really unhealthy—it may lead to a lot of physical wear and tear. And unless you want to be a wrestler, all that bulk does not look too great either. Being lean and fit, I believe, is more graceful. It works for me, at least.
The self-made man
We all think that Akshay Kumar switched to doing comic roles because he wanted to try something different and prove his versatility. The script is somewhat different. There is a woman behind this change. The woman is Twinkle, Akshay's wife. When shooting an underwater sequence for a movie Akshay barely escaped a shark attack. Naturally, this scared the hell out of his wife. And Akshay decided to give up his Akshan—we mean action image.
He also believes that fitness is more fun, if the spouse is involved. He tries and plans his workouts and meals with his wife.
Now after seven years of a break, he is once again coming back to action in Chandni Chowk to China. For the film, Akshay underwent training in Wushu, a martial art form practiced by Jet Li and Jackie Chan. It proves that you can take Akshay out of action films, but you can't take action out of Akshay.
He also is a foodie. He loves his maa ke haath ka khaana more than any other food. And he doesn't believe that one needs to be vegetarian to be healthy. For him, whole-wheat rotis with paneer, chicken, dal, sabjis make for an ideal meal.
On the spiritual side, Akshay believes deeply in God and worships Hindu deity, Shiva.
Physical fitness, spirituality, love for family—what a perfect 3-P balance!
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