Aamir Khan’s Dangal is getting applauded all over the world but not many know the roller coaster journey of the man who worked on his fantastic physical transformation. His life has been full of struggle but Rakesh Udiyar is content with how life has served him. His is a story of a child labor who is today’s Bollywood’s one of the most sought after gym instructor.
Life was kind to him only for the first five years of his life. His father mysteriously got a paralysis attack and the entire left side of his body stopped working. Whatever little savings the family had started dwindling and there were days when they ate only rice and drank black coffee, and many days they didn’t even get that.
One day, looking at the terrible condition of his family his father managed to get up and cleaned a man’s choked toilet for Rs 30. That day Rakesh and his brother felt the urge to do something to improve the financial condition of their crumbling home. The boys hopped on to Mumbai local train and began selling candies, hair clips and bangles between Ulhasnagar and Dadar. This fetched them Rs 25-30.
For several years the two boys did this alongside their schooling and developed a fighting spirit. But the income was very less to be called anything substantial so Rakesh began working in a dhaba and survived on whatever food the owner provided him. A child labor Rakesh was then recommended by a friend at a gym where he began working as a sweeper.
He says, “Fitness was my hobby and at the gym, my hobby became my habit. I remember in 2001-2002 there was a boy who would come to exercise late at night. Hardly the gym would be crowded at that point of time. He saw my enthusiasm, and I saw his interest and I began to give him instructions. He liked my coaching so much that he asked the owner of the gym to promote me to the post a trainer from being a sweeper. That day was special, it changed my life.”
With no professional degree in hand, Rakesh enrolled for an online certificate course in Mumbai to be a certified fitness trainer. The formal education took him to places. After spending some time in the US, he went to Dubai and worked there as a coach for five years.
“As time passed by, I realized that I need to be my own head and so I quit the fitness centre there and flew back to India only to take up freelance opportunities,” he remembers and adds that it was Arbaaz Khan who became his first celebrity client, as he looked at establishing himself in India.
“A friend of mine took me to Arbaaz to do his weight-loss. He kept me unaware that he was taking me to this Bollywood actor. I was surprised meeting Arbaaz who wanted to look lean and fit for Fashion (the movie). And from here on my journey into Bollywood started,” says the fitness expert who’s worked with actors like Salman Khan, Pulkit Samrat, Daisy Shah, Dia Mirza and Kunal Kapoor.
It was through Arbaaz that the Khan-daan was very much aware of Rakesh, who took forward the bond by training Salman on Dabangg. The Sultan actor is so used to having Rakesh around for his weight training that he literally made Rakesh quit training Aamir midway and travel with him.
Sharing his journey from being Salman’s trainer to Aamir’s, the health guru says, “I was training someone in Taj (five star hotel in Mumbai) when Aamir Khan saw me. He was doing Dhoom 3 at that point of time. He took my number and one fine day I get a call from him asking me if I could train him for PK. I asked him to excuse me as I was training Salman. Later on bhai (Salman) called him (Aamir) that indeed I was training him but however in the end we adjusted the dates.”
The clash of dates happened yet again when Rakesh was training Aamir for Dangal and Salman wanted him back for Sultan. “It was then that Rahul Bhatt took over after I left,” mentions the trainer who shares the credit with Mahesh Bhatt’s son to be Aamir’s fitness trainer for the wrestling drama.
Knocking off 20 kilos from Aamir he says was tough process. “Only a determined actor like Aamir could do it. The goal was achieved through the well designed diet chart from high calorie to low calorie, coupled with the right blend of exercises like weight training, cycling, high intense training among others,” he elaborates.
With Dangal making a killing after the release, Rakesh is now busy training Aamir for Thugs of Hindostan. His enthusiasm for fitness and willingness to leave poverty and painful days behind him has given him a brand identity today. His story inspires us to keep hoping against all odds, follow our passion and give our 100%.