India’s Test captain Virat Kohli has said that his outlook towards fitness changed after IPL 2012, and a healthier body has not only made him a better batsman but also an improved fielder.
“Till IPL 2012, I did not focus much on the physical aspect,” he said at a promotional event in Delhi. “I never got into the minute details of fitness, things like what I need to eat from morning to night, how much I need to work out and how much I need to train. After that IPL, I started listening to my body. I made a lifestyle choice. I wanted to explore a new side of my body to take me to the next level because I never wanted to be average. I wanted to best in the world. So I always had that mindset but never had the physical ability.”
Kohli cited an example of how improved fitness helped allay fielding apprehensions. “When you become fit, you feel you can do anything,” he said. “I will give you one example. I was never a quick fielder. I was never willing to field in every position. But after becoming fitter, lighter and stronger, I overcame all those doubts I had [about fielding]. Now it [staying fit, eating right] has become second nature to me.”
One aspect of his fitness that Kohli has particularly focused on is strength training, which Shankar Basu, the trainer of the Indian team, felt added a new dimension to his batting. “Kohli once said that he has to tweak his game as he cannot hit sixes like others. This IPL, he hit 38 sixes which is the most this season and 15 more than his last season’s tally. There is a definite surge in his power,” Basu, who has also worked with Kohli at Royal Challengers Bangalore, had said in an interview.
“In September we got an assessment of his muscle mass. At the end of the season, we wanted to see if there was a change and what we noticed was his muscle mass had increased dramatically. In the last six months, he has put a lot of time in developing his strength, mass and power.”
Having become a “fitness freak”, Kohli hoped his younger colleagues would follow suit. “If you look at some of the statistics [rising health problems in India], it causes fear in your mind,” he said. “So I want to create awareness on fitness, the importance of staying fit and healthy. You would be able to do what you want to do only when you feel fit from inside.
“I have never been as fit as I am today. It has worked beautifully for me. It has become a lifestyle choice for me. Even in my off time, I watch what I eat. In fact, I get more excited about fitness, feeling good, being healthy than anything else. That is probably because my body realises that fitness is what I would need after my professional career is done.”