Train Insane: Drew Neal
With several awards and championships under his belt and an ever-growing list of accomplishments, Drew Neal certainly knows some effective ways to become trim. From well-known superstar clients such as Kareena Kapoor, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar, Amrita Arora, and Shibhani Dandekar, he has been an in-demand personal trainer for all.
While most of us are still banging down the doors of our 2019 fitness and style goals, we share this exclusive interview with the celebrity trainer to reveal his principles and expertise on fitness.
What do you think about the ‘less is more’ approach towards fitness?
The body will only develop with progressive overload. The more you do this, the fitter and stronger the body will become. After a workout, the body needs time to recover and repair, and this is what many people forget. Muscles do not develop during a workout, they develop afterwards while we are resting. As long as the body is getting sufficient rest, we should exercise as much as possible using a variety of methods. This keeps the body progressing and the mind motivated. Of course, everyone has time constraints, but the feel-good factor we get from fitness should make us want to exercise as often as we can.
What essentials do we need at home to get the same results as we would at a gym? What does a typical home workout involve?
There are many affordable products in the market that can be used at home. Many of these products are beneficial if used properly. But, there lies the problem. Often, they become obsolete and are left in the back of closets. I believe all that one really needs to create a successful home workout is their body and a device to access social media. There are thousands of videos out there showing all kinds of workouts that can be done at home. To add difficulty to many of the exercises, simply adding resistance bands into the workout will do the job. Maybe add a mat for a comfortable workout when exercising on the floor.
What is the most common fitness goal of your celebrity client?
I think we all have the same aspirations when it comes to fitness, to look good and feel good. Whether we are trying to create a body we can be proud of on the beach or on the screen. All present the same challenges. Fundamentally, I believe fitness should be about health, but in today’s world, one’s image becomes the focus. I think there is certainly a pressure on people that are in the public eye to look a certain way, and so the goals are often to lose body fat and to create a more muscular or lean physique.
What training principles do you live your life by?
I believe training must be consistent, goal-based, progressive, and most importantly, enjoyable. These are the four pillars I believe that need to be the foundation of anyone’s fitness regime. If any of these pillars are removed, the results will not follow.
Do you feel the pressure to be in perfect shape?
There is definitely a pressure on me, which stems from my belief system. I love training, both for the way it makes me look and the way it makes me feel. I want everyone around me to feel the same and get the same benefit, and if being in shape myself inspires them to do that, then that’s me doing my job.
Do you think that smart watches and apps are actually helpful for people looking out to be fit in the real sense?
I love to analyse data and using a smart watch allows me to do that. I enjoy being able to look at how many calories I burned in a workout or how many steps I did on a particular day. This is not to say that I wouldn’t be doing the same exercise regardless of wearing the smart watch but it gives me feedback. Most people train and eat blindly and don’t actually evaluate if what they are doing is actually getting them to their goals.
What do you consider workout heaven?
Some of my happiest workouts have been in groups, especially while training in kickboxing for championship events. The energy that is created with a team of people, all of whom are training with the same objective, provides an amazing sense of camaraderie and togetherness. You can become all consumed by the session, no distractions, just hard work and sweat.
What is the biggest mistake that fitness newbies make?
After three decades of being involved in my own training, and two decades of training others, the list I could provide for this is endless. But, the one thing that sticks out is comparing themselves to others and listening to the wrong people. My advice is to talk to a qualified trainer and implement some of their strategies into your training. Fitness is an individual journey and you should make your own path. But, with the guidance of an expert, and not your friend who has been training for a few weeks longer than you and has no genetic similarities.
Since you train a lot of Bollywood celebrity clients, is there any particular thing that is common in almost all of them that you would suggest them to change?
Whether my client is from Bollywood or not, the most common problem is nutrition. Education around correct nutrition is improving, but there is so much false information that nutrition is the first thing I look at when I meet a new client. No matter how good my clients think they are with food, I have never met anyone where I can’t make their diet more optimal. The biggest problem is people aren’t honest with themselves with what they actually eat and with the fact that often they do not eat enough. Shibani Dandekar is a really good example. On my plan, she feels like she is eating more food than she ever has, yet she is losing weight and making positive changes to her body. The food she is eating is nutritious and exactly what her body needs to fuel her workouts and help her with her recovery.
According to you, do supplements actually help in the growth process?
I really believe there is way too much emphasis on supplementation. Often, it is the first thing anyone wants to talk about and this really frustrates me. Supplements are marketed incredibly well and make many consumers believe that each supplement is some kind of a magic ingredient that will transform them. In fact, supplementation is the last thing people should be focusing on. Nutrition, rest, and training should be a priority. Of course, there is a place for supplements with certain individuals’ nutrition and training. But, it has to be assessed from person to person.