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From completing triathlons Ironman in 2015 and Ultraman in 2017 to freediving at 2°Celsius in Iceland, Milind Soman has been at the forefront of India’s fitness revolution. Our contributor talks to the runner, swimmer, diver, actor, and model about his fitness mantra at home in the lockdown and his future travel goals. By Mitrajit Bhattacharya
How are you maintaining your fitness in this lockdown?
Mental strength is the most important aspect of dealing with situations that you are not used to and that might be uncomfortable. Stress needs to be understood, accepted, and dealt with in the most positive manner.
What are your workout and diet recommendations for people in quarantine?
I continue with my usual exercise: three-minute circuits every one or two hours. I choose simple bodyweight exercises like planks, pushups, and burpees. I miss road running though. When it comes to food, my choice is light and easy to digest. Since you have some time to focus on yourselves, it’s a good time to check how the food you eat―the cereals, the spices, and the style of cooking―influence your mood or your physical and mental energies.
Swimming, running, or diving―what if you had to choose one?
I love them all. It’s difficult to choose one, as the three are completely different and offer different thrills. If I had to choose one, it would be diving, as I don’t get to dive as often as I do the other two.
An achievement closest to your heart?
When I won my first national championship in swimming. I was 18 or 19, and nothing quite matched the feeling of that. I had worked on it for close to 10 years by then, after having settled down in India at the age of seven.
Who’s your favourite sportsperson, model, and actor?
Sportsperson: Muhammad Ali, because he owned what he did. He wasn’t just a sportsperson, he was a hero. In modelling, I would say, Naomi Campbell, because of her longevity in this gruelling profession. As far as acting goes, Balraj Sahni is my favourite from India. The first movie I saw in India was Do Bigha Zamin, and he was brilliant in that. Marlon Brando is my all-time favourite.
What is your favourite travel destination?
I don’t like to repeat destinations. There are so many places to see, with different cuisines, people, and cultures. I don’t like to waste my time going back and see the same things again, however wonderful they might be. But there are a few exceptions, like the Maldives; I went there for the first time last year and felt I could go back again and again. Part of the reason is the ocean. I love the dives, the flora and fauna, and the shipwrecks.
What’s on your bucket list?
There are so many places in the world. It’s like when Favre-Leuba suggested Silfra and diving there, I didn’t even know about it. The place has to have an element of adventure attached to it. I don’t like cities much, though I pass through them all the time; being with nature is what excites me. The first destination would be the Grand Canyon, to trek from rim to rim. The second one is climbing more mountains. I did climb the Kilimanjaro for the second time [recently]; the first time was 20 years ago. And I found it easier to climb at 54 than when I was 33. It’s all in your mind. So maybe the next will be Mount Elbrus in Russia. The third destination would be Zanzibar, Africa.
What are your holidays like?
Adventures, always. Trek, dive, or run: I can do one or all three on my trips.
What’s your favourite cuisine and dish?
Though I have lived in Mumbai almost all my life, I have a fascination for Bengali cuisine. Especially, freshwater fish. Internationally, I like Japanese cuisine—not just the sushi and the sashimi, I love the soups and the noodles, too. I like anything that’s made while respecting traditions. My favourite dish would be boneless ilish bhapa. What I eat most often, though, is dal-khichdi; it’s a complete meal. And one can make so many variations just by adding different vegetables and masalas.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
I like simple home food. But if I have to choose a restaurant, it would have to be The Bombay Canteen in Lower Parel, Mumbai.