Pregnancy and child birth is nothing short of a miracle to us. And ever since we became spectators to Akshitha ace her second pregnancy on Instagram (while raising a 4 year old!) we’ve been in awe. A former international tennis player, Akshitha now dedicates her time educating women on fitness, and early childhood education. We spoke with her on all things fitness - before, during and after pregnancy, while her two boys did what boys do best - monkey around in their matching new Miko Lolo.
Miko Lolo : You’ve been an athlete since a young age, how did that translate into your pregnancy? How important was it for you to keep in touch with fitness during both your pregnancies?
Akshitha Basavaraju : So I’ll be honest, both my pregnancies were kind of planned. I knew I wanted to have a baby at that particular point in time, and I ensured I was pretty fit and had a routine in terms of fitness before I even fell pregnant. Because I knew it would translate into fitness during pregnancy also. I also read a lot about how I could modify a lot of exercises, so it didn’t mean that I had to stop. A lot of the exercise I did during my first pregnancy was experimental with a lot of reading – this was 6-7 years ago and staying fit during pregnancy still wasn’t such a big thing. It was also very important for me as I knew my recovery post-partum depended a lot on how fit I was during pregnancy because coming back is easier when your fitness level isn’t lost. So for me it was not about staying in shape or losing weight or keeping the weight in check, it was about maintaining my fitness level.
Has having an active lifestyle played a role in the way you are bring up your boys?
Oh yes, this goes without saying. The whole circadian like their sleep cycle; the fact that I don’t like it if they wake up post 7 am - it’s just how I have been brought up and I know how good it was for me, my body, my career, the person I am today. I think it’s just the sub conscious mind where I’m feel it cannot be done any other way. So for example, they don’t get to watch TV at night, and it’s a very disciplined routine even in terms of food - it’s just what I’ve been doing all my life and I truly do believe that has a big impact on how I’m bringing up the boys.
You have impeccable style, it’s evident on your Instagram account. If you could raid someone’s closet, who would it be?
I like to stick to something that is very comfortable. I’m not very different in my choices, to be honest. My fashion is very classic, traditional. Even when it comes to western wear, I like silhouettes that have kind of been there and do good for my body. So for me fashion is about showing the work that goes into actually having such a body, because when you work so hard, sweat it out, you might as well just flaunt it - but in your very own way. So it doesn’t mean you have to wear skimpy clothes, that’s something I’m hardly up, but something that accentuates the body.
I think Priyanka copra’s closet would be one I would love to get into, and for traditional wear I think there’s none like my mum’s so that would probably be a safe bet.
One thing you cannot start your day without?
A good workout – sweat, sweat, a lot of sweat! I think I could miss my coffee, I could maybe someday miss saying hi to my kids as soon as I wake up, but for me working out tops the list.
Whose fitness journey inspires you?
Most definitely Dwayne Johnson, not just for his fitness, but just how he looks at life; and also Serena Williams.
What would a day off without the boys be like for you?
I’ll definitely put in a different workout mode. I love trying new workouts – so I’ll probably do a session of Zumba, or spinning and also a very good sports massage! Yeah, that’s something I would really enjoy. With the travel within the city, it takes an hour and a half, and I have kind of sacrificed that so many times thinking the boys are home, it doesn’t make sense – so maybe that. And a good meal with my mom. It comforts me a lot to talk to her about a lot of things about life. That would be ideal for me.
A vacation destination you want to explore with Benak and Nanda.
Orlando, Florida. Disney World as well as Lego Land because Benak is so into that.
Benak wearing the Honey Oatmeal Upcycled Bucket Hat
Your go-to breakfast for yourself and the boys?
We’re pretty soulfully South Indian at taste, so a good crispy dosa. And also eggs, boiled or scrambled, since my older one likes eggs. I cannot pick one, need both on the table.
With all the experience you now have, what would be your top 3 fitness tips for new moms, during and after pregnancy.
Let me divide this into two parts - fitness tips for during pregnancy :
- Don’t be of the mindset that you cannot workout just because you fell pregnant. You definitely can! All you need to be aware of is that you need to modify your workout. And you really don’t have to stop.
- Focus more on your fitness level. You should be able to feel that the workout is helping you, it is pushing you a little bit and that you are feeling stronger, rather than checking your weight at intervals. That is not a cause of concern, especially in pregnancy. If you’re eating well and working out, the scale is not something you should be worried about.
- There are days when you feel totally off, when you just do not want to do anything - it’s alright to take those days off. If you’re someone like me who’s very prim and proper, cannot miss a day of workout, don’t push yourself during pregnancy! It’s just not the right time for you to do that. You can, instead come back the next day a little more mentally stronger and give it 100%, but take the day off. That said, don’t use this as an excuse to keep skipping exercise day after day.
And for postpartum :
- I think everybody tells you this - don’t rush into it. But even a couple days after you deliver, the doctors give you simple, subtle exercises that you can start off as early as 4-5 days post-delivery. Some examples would be pelvic floor recovery exercises, a little bit to strengthen your back, diaphragmatic breathing, Kegels, hip bridges – holds, a lot of holds. Nothing with friction, or sudden movement or jerking exercises. These actually help you to strengthen the areas that have gone through wear and tear. So it is okay to start that early but it depends on what exactly you’re doing.
- If you are confused and you don’t know how to go about it, please consult a professional, at least until you understand how to do the postures. Then you can continue the next following weeks or months maybe without the assistance, but at least to know how to do it, it’s best to contact a professional.
- Double bra-ing - using two bras. This goes in pregnancy as well as post-partum. Your busts tend to get heavier - this can happen as soon as 5-6 weeks, as soon as you know you’ve conceived, and it can probably stay through your entire breast feeding journey, to even a few weeks after stopping breast feeding. So please make sure you use two bras. One can be padded and one can be non-padded. It just gives you so much more comfort and also keeps in check that your tissues don’t get stretched because of the movement during exercise, and gives you that extra support you require.
I’m just exploring areas that I can get better at – this definitely includes my journey of wanting to help new mothers, as well as mothers-to-be with their fitness and nutrition. Here a lot of experience comes in, along with research, study, certifications, courses, so all of that is in line, as this is something that is close to my heart.
Another thing that I am also into is early childhood education and I do that professionally. I’m very passionate about children, especially at the age they are in preschool, so that is also another line of thought that keeps me very engaged. I plan to get myself more educated so that my knowledge bank expands and I am more than happy to share this with everyone who is in need of the same.
Akshitha's Instagram : @fitnessforthefitmom