For years, her commitment to fitness has been evident. Malaika Arora, who had tested positive for COVID-19 in September last year, spent many months getting her health back on track after her recovery. In a conversation with Bombay Times, the actress and entrepreneur talks about how she bounced back to her healthy self and resumed work. Excerpts:
You had tested positive for COVID-19 in September last year, and even for someone as fit as you, it took a while to get back in shape and form. Do you feel that you are now back to you being your fit self?
My workouts are an everyday thing; I don’t do anything differently. I work out every day, but I got here gradually, especially after recovering from COVID-19 last year. It took some time to get back on track. I could not push myself like I used to. It took a while to start working out properly. Also, I wanted to do it gradually. Everyone is going through so much. Work is erratic and there’s so much uncertainty. By the grace of God, things are slowly getting back on track and I am back to feeling healthy. Honestly, there were days when I could not even bend down and touch my toes. I would get frustrated as I was unable to push myself. I didn’t give up and I had no choice, but to take it slow. Post recovery, I wanted to start working out and going for my runs immediately, but COVID-19 had such an adverse effect on my knees. We don’t realise it, but our entire body bears the brunt of this virus. I had to change my approach. I stopped rushing into it and didn’t do anything stupid. I ate right, monitored my nutrition and in six-eight months, here I am.
Amid the second wave, you were shooting for a reality show when you stepped in for Shilpa Shetty Kundra, who took a break as her family members had tested positive for the virus. When you stepped out to shoot, what was the experience like?
I was scared to step out. In fact, I was supposed to shoot for something in Bengaluru, but I cancelled it because I got cold feet. Cases were spiralling at that time and I didn’t feel comfortable going out. I was apprehensive about going for the kids’ reality show, too, but when they took me through their plan, I felt at ease. What also helped me feel confident was that I was vaccinated. A vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get the virus, but it protects you against health damages to a large extent. It puts you in a better place to combat it.
The lockdown has been tough on parents, as apart from doing their jobs, they also had to focus on keeping their children engaged. And most parents would agree that this phase has been tough on the children, too. While your son Arhaan was all set to take off for his higher education, he had to put his plans on hold. How do you keep him engaged?
It’s been a tough phase for young adults. Arhaan is 18 and was supposed to pursue higher education, but we were not comfortable sending him away. We decided to take a gap year. I was clear that even if he does that, he should use his time well. I told him that he has to engage in various things, learn something new and not sit around wasting his time. He understood what I was saying. While the initial phase of the lockdown was about enjoying the time at home, he got his act together soon. He has enrolled in online courses, and also invests his time in getting physically fit. Previously, that was not on his agenda, but now I see that he’s driven to eat right and follow a disciplined lifestyle. He routinely works out, which I think kids his age need to do so that they’re healthier when they get to the other side of the pandemic. The most important thing is that my son and I got a lot of time together. We will cherish this phase because we’re getting abundant mamma-beta time before he gets on with his studies and his career. Every situation does have its own positives.
The two phases of lockdowns (the one in 2020 and this year) have tested relationships at home and even those we share with people outside…
Everyone I know has been working to keep their relationships intact and maintaining a balance in them. I have used this time wisely to nurture my relationships. Yes, it is difficult and none of us have had the freedom to move around too much or be with each other as much as we would have loved to. However, this phase has also been one where we had the opportunity to understand each other better and nurture what we have between us. I value this. My relationships mean the world to me.