Founder of a production studio and media tech start-up, Lakshmi Rebecca has now discovered joy in kick-boxing. “Even if it is at the other end of the fitness spectrum to walking, I find it as therapeutic,” she says with conviction that is not only firm but infectious as well.
“When your trainer is telling you ‘Whoever you are angry with, whatever you hate, take it out’, you are figuring out who you are angry with and you punch harder, kick harder. It is therapy in its own right,” the elegant and lanky Lakshmi says, breaking into that characteristic laughter of hers. “You finish with a clear mind and you laugh at things later.”
The award-winning podcast host admits she had kept impact sport away from her schedule since she had never been a sportsperson and had a back injury many years ago. “I always knew I needed a regime, be it walking or stretching or lifting dad’s weights even when I was as young as 13. Since I liked trekking and riding motorbikes long distances, I realised that staying fit helps,” she says.
Last year, the Bengaluru-based star decided she wanted to do something different and signed up for the Kaveri Trail Marathon near Srirangapatna. “I loved it. I could have walked for an hour more, I had energy left. I could keep going with the momentum,” she recalls her maiden effort over the 21km distance that she covered in just three hours one minute and 28 seconds.
“The scenery on the trail was so beautiful and refreshing. It was very relaxing, mentally and spiritually,” Lakshmi says. “But the bottom line is that I find it therapeutic like my motorcycling. When you ride a bike long distance, it’s just you, your helmet, your bike, the road and your thoughts. The constant hum of the engine, the wind and you hear little else.
“You can find a lot of clarity – like climbing a mountain to go visit a temple, like a lot of us do in India. There is a therapy process. It clears your mind by the time you get to the end of it. A three-hour marathon was a conversation with myself – ‘Keep at it; keep the same pace, keep the same pace’,” she says, breaking into a wide grin.
She reveals that she chanced upon kick-boxing at her gym. She saw a girl punch in the mixed martial arts section of the gym and wanted to try it herself. “I told them I knew nothing about martial arts, shared my back condition and said I want a personal trainer. My goals were to build core and upper body strength, become more agile and fitter. I went with the flow and now love it,” she says.
Lakshmi believes a good workout clears the anxiety. “A lot of us are constantly making decisions and choices, especially if you are running a business or you are ambitious or if there is stuff going on in your personal life. It helps because it focuses you on the issue and helps find clarity. Your mind is distanced enough to have a better perspective. No matter what form of fitness exercise it is, the focus shift really helps,” she says
Ask her if she has derived emotional strength from her fitness regime, she has an interesting response. “It’s much simpler for me in my head. I come from a conservative middle-class family where things were complex as my parents never spoke with one another. Then, I got divorced at a very young age. I have lived on my own for a long time. Sport and business give me things to look forward to. You can always keep pushing yourself. Do things differently. That keeps it exciting and you never feel like you are stuck in a zone,” she reasons.
Lakshmi says she has drawn a lot of inspiration from her conversations with sportspeople. Olympian swimmer Nisha Millet Chatterjee told her about her disciplined life in training and competition; from racer Sarath Kumar she learnt perseverance – he drives a taxi to be able to pursue a sporting career. “I am bringing these elements into my own life,” she says, also referring to Paraswimmers Rajni Jha and Sharat Gayakwad as amazing individuals.
To be sure, she has a busy career, including lots of travel, but at the beginning of each week she slots fitness sessions into her calendar. “If you don’t put such sessions down in your calendar, your workout is not going to happen. For me, project deadlines and fitness sessions are the first things that get on my calendar,” she says, underlining the importance she attaches to fitness – and a calmer state of mind through her new-found love.