Celebrity fitness expert Baqar Nasser shares top tips on how to reclaim your inner champion

Training the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Suniel Shetty, Sonali Bendre other Bollywood celebrities, Nasser is now all set to start a new fitness revolution in the UAE


Somya Mehta

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Photo: Aasiya Jagadeesh
Photo: Aasiya Jagadeesh

Published: Fri 13 May 2022, 12:08 AM

He trains Bollywood celebrities to achieve a level of fitness the common man (and woman) can only dream of. The pictures of perfectly carved silhouettes we see on the covers of fashion magazines, advertising posters and now, flooded on social media — albeit lovely to look at — seem like a distant reality for most of us. But this man knows the roadmap to destination unknown, one where not many reach but everyone, at some point, aspire to be. Baqar Nasser, the man behind the glorious body transformations we often see celebrities undergo, is an 11-time national cycling champion-turned-holistic health and fitness coach.

Having worked with the who’s who of Bollywood, including Priyanka Chopra, Suniel Shetty, Sonali Bendre and many others, Nasser specialises in training people with pre-existing conditions, such as PCOS, digestive issues, arthritis or joint problems, surgeries-gone-wrong, and cardiovascular issues. Recently awarded the UAE’s Golden Visa, the fitness expert is now all set to embark on a fitness transformation journey in the Middle East.

The midfielder

What started as a passion for competing in the National Cycle Championship quickly turned into an all-around obsession for fitness and more than that, a desire to solve problems, for the health coach. “It always starts with problem-solving. I don’t see body transformations as a thing of luxury, it depends on necessity. Why do you really need to transform your body? I believe in diving into the root cause,” says Nasser. “Even when the case of Sanjay Dutt came to me, it was to fix his back. After his jail time, he had sciatic nerves with shooting pain,” he explains.

No matter how much of a “big” name the person might be, in Nasser’s class all his students are treated in the same manner, so they can enjoy maximum benefits offered from his courses. Using a combination of health, exercise and right medical intervention, where necessary, Nasser believes in being a hands-on coach and trainer, tracking every little detail from their water intake to which medications the client is consuming. “I speak with health specialists and head of operations in hospitals, not regular GPs. Those people are hard to get access to usually. But we need that kind of intellectual capacity to treat special cases. So, I go into the depth of speaking to specialised doctors. I even go along with the clients for their doctor’s appointment,” says Nasser. “I put myself in the place of my client and really try to understand what they need at that moment. The same things will not work each time.”

Nasser, who believes one’s mindset plays a pivotal role in self-transformation, becomes more than just a health coach when dealing with clients. Nasser mentions, “I can’t just leave them in a state where I say, here’s the plan, give me your money and manage on your own. I try to discover what the trigger to their emotion is, which is not allowing them to discipline themselves.” For him, everyone is a champion. “I say this to every human being, there is a champion living inside you that you need to bring out. Even if you don’t believe in yourself, I believe that you can take that step,” says the health coach, adding that most of his clients over the years have been built through word of mouth and high success rates in solving people’s health issues.

Young teens at risk

Amongst the many health challenges that Nasser comes face-to-face with every day, a common one that seems to concern him upon his move to the UAE is teenage obesity. “Not just the UAE, but in the Gulf as well, obesity seems to be a key concern,” says Nasser, who recently worked towards the transformation of a pre-teen who weighed 96 kilos at the age of 12 and is now at 55 kilos. “She told me that her friends could not recognise her when she went back to school after the pandemic,” mentions the coach.

Nasser believes it’s imperative for people to start early, when it comes to cases of obesity or even hormonal health and PCOS problems in girls, to avoid medicinal and surgical interventions in the future. “Younger girls, from the age of 13 itself, are falling prey to poor hormonal and ovarian health,” says Nasser.

We now live in an age where Photoshopping images has become incredibly accessible, with several apps allowing you to shrink your stomach, make your jaw sharper, shrink your mid torso, adjust your legs — all with a click of a button. The world of social media, according to the health coach, has been a catalyst in spearheading negative body image issues. “A lot of teenagers I see are struggling with their body image. Everyone’s comparing themselves to someone or the other on social media. This is widely spoken about but not many people truly understand how detrimental it is to a youngster,” mentions the coach. “The parents are so busy in their life, they are not able to support them. They’re ready to hire a psychiatrist and resort to pills, which will come with their own side effects,” says Nasser, adding that it’s imperative for people to get their basics right when it comes to health and nutrition.

No sugar, no sin

Sugar cravings is something the health coach pays a lot of attention to in such cases. “These days there’s a whole trend around PMS (premenstrual syndrome) where even young girls are complaining about mood swings and cramps that lead to unhealthy eating habits. They’ll say things like, ‘Don’t disturb me’ or ‘Leave me alone’ and in such times, friends jump in and send two cupcakes to cheer these girls up. What one needs to realise is that feeding your body artificial sugars due to PMS is like supplying poison to your body,” says Nasser, adding that artificial sugars act in a similar manner to artificial fertilisers in plants. “There is natural soil and there is water, which the plant requires. But when you add fertilisers to make the plant grow much faster, you interfere with the plant’s natural growth mechanisms. Similarly, sugars act like an agricultural supplement for the ovaries, leading to extra growth in the form of cysts, which thrive on artificial sugars.”

So, does the health coach have zero-tolerance policy for sugar? “You can have natural sugars in the form of dates, raisins and fruits. Natural sugars are soluble in nature and can melt through walking also.” The coach also comes up with healthy recipes for desserts while encouraging his clients to go off sugar, as part of his meal plans. “You can make oat cookies and add chocolate in the form of raw cacao. You can add ingredients like peanut butter, banana to make muffins and cakes. These things are very easy to make at home,” adds Nasser.

And having moved to the UAE now, Nasser is looking forward to be an active voice in the health and wellbeing sector in the region. When asked what his future plans are, the fitness coach jokes, “I might come up with a ring light and camera setup now, making 15-20-second videos on fitness,” which may, in fact, be a good idea for the celebrity trainer. After all, to cater to the younger generation, we must adapt to the younger mediums.


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