For Swapnil Hazare, the former Mumbai cricketer, it has been a very different and challenging experience to don the role of a fitness trainer for Puneri Paltan in the Pro Kabaddi League.

Swapnil had quit cricket to take up the trainer job and has held held the post for the last four years. He says kabaddi, being a sport with maximum body contact with no protective gear, makes players prone to injuries and demands a specific fitness regimen compared to cricket or any other sport.

"Yes, it was difficult initially to educate the kabaddi players as most of them have come from rural background. There was some resistance. It took time to explain to them the need to combine a scientific training programme combining skills and strength training," he says in an exclusive telephonic chat with Sportstar as the teams fight out in the Vizag-leg of the PKL which commenced on Friday.

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"Earlier, these kabaddi players engaged in some random training. Yes, coming up with the best nutritious diet is the biggest change for them," he says.

"We have had three camps before the season began - one in general conditioning, second in power, speed, agility and finally one in skill training," he adds.

"Once I quit cricket I didn't want to get back to the game again and wanted to do something different. I thought getting into the PKL is a bigger challenge and also a huge opportunity and I am grateful to the franchisee owners for their wonderful support," he said.

"I am enjoying my stint as trainer and I see lot more kabaddi players much fitter now and the fact that there are far less injuries even in such a long season is a reminder of how meticulously these players are taking fitness training seriously," signs off Swapnil, who is keen to set up his own full-fledged fitness centre.