Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Night out with Deepika Mehta

Night out with Deepika Mehta
by: Parizaad Khan
- expressindia.com

She makes Ash and Bips sweat and considers Yana her soul sister. But there’s more to Deepika Mehta than some of Bollywood’s hottest bodies.

If you lived in south Mumbai two years ago and were shopping for an exercise regime that would sculpt your body and feed your soul, chances are you’d have discovered Deepika Mehta’s power yoga class at Gold’s Gym. She’d light the incense, put on soothing chants and then jump-start your day with a thumping, hard core workout that’d leave you praying to the yoga gods for mercy—and more. But to the dismay of all of Napean Sea Road, Mehta’s left us common folk to make national treasures like Aishwarya Rai and Bipasha Basu sweat.

These days, the 28-year-old trains clients at the gym at Bandra’s Taj Land’s End, so we meet for lunch at Vista, the hotel’s coffee shop.

She walks in sporting exercise gear—a racerback tee and tracks, with her waist-long hair loose. ‘‘For a few months, I spent most of my salary eating four meals a day here,’’ she laughs. This is also where she and ‘‘soul sister’’ Yana Gupta spent hours chatting after workouts.

Mehta takes on only two to three clients at a time (no, there’s no vacancy, Ash and Bips are hogging her time). ‘‘Every time I exercise with someone, I feel like I’ve given my energy, a part of myself to them. When I was training too many people, I was drained at the end of the day,’’ she says.

Mehta spent a couple of days at the end of last year hosting yoga workshops in Bhutan for members of the elite Young Presidents Organisation; members include heads of exclusive international fashion labels and CEOs of record companies. ‘‘They fell in love with me, and so I loved it. I know I’m being bratty, but it was great for my ego,’’ she says. ‘‘They wanted to take me back to New York and make me a brand.’’

Training the models for the Kingfisher calendar was another project she couldn’t say no to. Looking over a plate piled high with salad greens and smoked salmon, she says, ‘‘I bullied them; they hated me at the start. I heard that the day the shooting wrapped up, they pigged out saying, ‘Yay, Deepika’s not here’,” she laughs. She exerts even more dietary control over her regular clients. ‘‘The first thing I do is have a chat with their cooks; I tell them they can eat this and nothing else,’’ she says.

Mehta was asked in June last year to train Aishwarya for her role in Dhoom 2 by the makers of the film. Since then she’s accompanied the actor to London and Jaipur for shoots as well. ‘‘Ash has a dancer’s body and lots of flexibility and grace. She’s spiritual and enjoys meditation,’’ Mehta says.

If you’ve got your muscles in a twitch wondering what a trademark Deepika Mehta workout is like, here’s a sample: Start with some yoga, move on to weights-cardio-resistance training, then relax with some meditation. And there’s some dance thrown in as well. ‘‘But there’s never a standard formula, I go with my gut,’’ she says.

When she’s not training, Mehta spends her time researching—her current topic is how excess exercise leads to premature ageing. She’s also doing a correspondence course in naturopathy from an Australian university. ‘‘I also want to set up a retreat in Mumbai. A small and exclusive Goa-esque place where people can do yoga,’’ she says.