Hell of a fitness stint in comeback bid for Zak and Yuvi - The New Indian Express

Hell of a fitness stint in comeback bid for Zak and Yuvi

Published: 31st August 2013 07:46 AM

Last Updated: 31st August 2013 07:46 AM

“Welcome to Hell” flashed the signboard at the entrance of Tim Exeter’s downtown sweatshop in Brive-la-Gallarde. Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan, bunched by the common cause to regain fitness and retread the path to national reckoning, would have exchanged quizzical stares. The scenic commune didn’t fit the descriptions of hell in fairy tales.

But for the next six weeks, the sleepy commune in southern France was to be their hell and heaven. They were made to train as though they were in hell and they were made to feel as though they were in heaven. “When it came to training, it meant business. That was the reason they came here and they wanted to get the maximum out of it. At the same time, we had a good time outside it and they bonded well with my family,” Exeter told TNIE.

Just as the welcome note, the training, too, was unusual. “I don’t believe much in using machines, for they were essentially designed for body builders in the US. So my gym has a lot of loose weight and ropes. My training is more functional, like how they would on the pitch, movement oriented. And it is different for every athlete. So the training for Zaheer was different from Yuvraj,” he specified.

It didn’t take much time for Exeter to diagnose the reason for Zaheer’s frequent breakdowns. “It took me just one Youtube video to understand the enormous strain he was putting on his ankles and knees. The landing knee was taking too much of stress. He has really strong legs but the middle body wasn’t quite fit. First, he was made to train in such a way that he lost a few useless kilos. Then, it was about developing core strength and stability,” he elaborated.

For Yuvraj, the regimen was different. “He had issues with his knees and shoulder before, and so the focus was to strengthen these parts. And of course the abdomen. He is a powerful bloke and a very humorous guy. Sometimes, even when he was tired, he cracked a lot of jokes and made the atmosphere lighter,” said Exeter, a former Rugby international for Scotland.

By the third week, the cricketers were training at full tilt. “I am not the sort of guy to impose training. The schedule was such that there was enough time for recovery. I wouldn’t say it was relaxed, but it wasn’t too hard either. They trained for five hours a day with a day off. The training started off slowly and by the third week, they realised the reason for the welcome to hell note,” he said.

There was as much as training outside the gym as inside it. “There was plenty of fresh air, and though it was a pretty harsh summer, the weather was pleasant. So they did a lot of training outside,” he recollected.

Six weeks just flew by, after which the duo looked considerably fresher and fitter. “They were quite motivated. Now I think they are as fit as they have ever been. Zaheer was bowling really fast with the tennis ball and Yuvi was batting bloody well. I don’t think age is really an issue with either of them. If they can use their skill, there is no reason their body can’t hold the demands of their body,” he opined.

It didn’t take much time to spark off a bond with the genial Exeter household. “It’s a small town and there aren’t too many places to socialise. So they used to visit us every now and again and they bonded well. Yuvi, especially, was a big hit in the family. Even now, the kids ask me about him,” the father of four chuckled.

The kids growing up, Exeter is averse to the idea of buying a satellite television. But he fears he would be tempted, for he wants to watch the incongruous game with the leather ball and the willow. And more importantly, watch Zaheer and Yuvraj in the frame.

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