Fit, fitter, fittest!

Virat Kohli was the fittest in the team in all aspects till the time I was there till 2013 and since then he has upped his fitness quotient in many ways.

Virat Kohli is a stickler for fitness.   -  AFP

I have known Virat Kohli from 2009. Apart from being a very good talent, he was naturally fit and had sheer grit, which made him stand out from the crowd. He was the skipper of the triumphant Indian team at the under-19 World Cup in 2008 and in the same year he came into the Indian senior team for One-Day Internationals.

When he came into the side, his aptitude for fitness was way above average and his eagerness to make the best out of his free time was an example for all the youngsters to follow. He would always be the first to arrive for a specialised regimen and would love to do the session alone without any distraction be it in India or anywhere else.

Once in the Indian team, he had icons as role models to guide him in all aspects. In many places there was no proper gym facility and we had to put the existing equipments to best use for the desired results.

Virat always wanted to have a washboard abs and would push that extra bit to reach his goal in spite of being totally tired. I remember his body fat percentage was the best (less than 10% always) when compared to the rest, which is remarkable.

He was the fittest in the team in all aspects till the time I was there till 2013 and since then he has upped his fitness quotient in many ways.

During the World Cup (2011) there were restrictions on food in the dressing room and he followed it in toto.

In 2012, on the tour of Sri Lanka, the Indian team coach Duncan Fletcher wanted an improvement in fitness levels of all the players and planned a road map towards the Champions Trophy in 2013. All the support staff worked towards the goal and the rest was history.

Fletcher was the spark which ignited Virat. That was when he shifted his gear to turbo mode and has not looked back since.

 

Virat modified his diet regimes totally and his fitness regime changed from a medium intensity maintenance program to high intensity workouts. Diet regimes were monitored for the whole team and fitness logs were distributed during the team meeting every week. Virat used to lead the points table always.

He never shied away from experimenting, be it new technology or fitness tools. When I brought in the high altitude mask in 2013 for the team to increase its fitness levels and breathing patterns, it was used by almost all the players. I suppose that Virat is still using it for his speed endurance work and aerobic sessions!

Virat’s ability to push the pain threshold reminds me of Sachin’s and Dhoni’s ability to withstand pain without flinching and executing the role provided with clinical precision.

Virat loves to be challenged. I remember an instance when we introduced the mask for training in Rajkot. Virat set the altitude to 12000 feet and did his session for 20 minutes. This was incredible since the set-up was done for only 6000 feet and showed Virat’s ability to push boundaries beyond his comfort zone.

After my tenure with the Indian team ended in 2013, the succeeding trainers have done a marvellous job in increasing Virat’s fitness levels with strength and power training.

His diet regime changed from 2012. He has become a vegan and moved to a new frontier, sacrificing his love for food to remain shipshape. Virat is an awesome example for other cricketers to follow, especially in the areas of focus, determination, perseverance and goal-setting. What matters is the mental ability to make the shift from the comfort zone to a professional level. This is easier said than done. But Virat is a true example of that in the current era.

As far as cricket is concerned, Virat is the ideal model for total mind and body sync.

People only see Virat as an end product, not realising his sacrifice, pain, perseverance, dedication and zeal. Sadly, people also tend to compare cricketers with sporting professionals from tennis, soccer, basketball etc. This is totally irrelevant.

Like Vince Lombardi once said: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” That is Virat for you!