It was five years ago that Faiza Momin, just 21 at the time, a popular girl in her group who enjoyed outdoor activities, was involved in an unfortunate incident that turned her life upside down. A head-on car collision left her with injuries in her back and legs leaving her unable to pursue any form of fitness or regular activities. Therapy and recovery from the accident took more than two years, during which things took a downhill spin – not just in her weight and appearance, but also in her mental health.
“When no one believed in me, Baqar did,” says Faiza, now a professional bridal make-up artist and founder of @makeupbyfaizamomin. “And by nobody, I mean not even my family and close friends and so mentally it was very difficult to start again.”
The Baqar she is referring to is Baqar Nasser, celebrity body transformation and fitness training expert, well known in the fitness circles of Mumbai and who has attracted the attention of Bollywood celebrities including Sanjay Dutt, Neil Nitin Mukesh, and Priyanka Chopra, to name a few.
Baqar remembers receiving a call from Faiza’s mother in 2019 informing her that she had locked herself up in her room and was refusing to come out. He had known the girl from her teenage years when she used to be a regular participant in his training classes. It was clear that the two-year post accident recovery period had had a drastic effect on Faiza. “I wanted to help her get back to her usual self,” he says.
Although she had tried numerous plans and signed up with several trainers to get herself back in top shape and form, Faiza admits to being most comfortable with Baqar.
“I had gained weight gradually over the years, and from 75kgs I went up to 106kgs. I remember the day he had come home, and said ‘let’s start again,” recalls Faiza.
Sharing some of the most painful moments of her experience, Faiza admits that she went through some troubling times. Her medical reports indicated PCOS and PCOD with varying symptoms showing up, including borderline thyroid, high cholesterol, and testosterone levels. Her ideal body weight was always between 55 and 60 kgs and when it reached 106kgs she felt her life beginning to spin out of control. “There was a point where my friends were embarrassed of me and would make fun of me, telling me how fat I was and how swollen my face and stomach appeared. They’d pass nasty comments and that had a drastic effect on me mentally.
“Many take mental health lightly, but it makes such a huge difference because it was when I had hit my lowest point in life, the rock bottom and point of no recovery that I realized the impact it all had. After a point, I was so numb that I didn’t care about myself anymore.”
At the start of the pandemic in 2019, Baqar reached out to help Faiza get back to her feet. Once the classes began and the diet changes were put in place, Faiza began to notice a difference within a week. “He would be available 24x7 to guide me even at 3am,” she says, and that truly made a lot of difference.
The little progress she saw, made her regain her confidence and remain committed to herself. “I felt like I was out of a dark place. It’s like Baqar gave me a new life all over again. I love his Solo Sweat challenge only because it has more weight training which helped me to tone up and even include a little bit of cardio. His Olympic edition was another level – it had a lot of energy and fun, and amazing results in shaping up,” she says.
Trainer to health coach
For a celebrity trainer like Baqar Nasser, glamorous body transformations and fitness training is something that he takes seriously. Never one to back down from complicated cases, he has built a reputation by word of mouth in Mumbai, India, since his first spin classes in a luxury gym where he could barely afford the membership fee. What started as his passion to get fit for the National Cycling Championships, soon turned into a full-time fitness training opportunity that attracted the attention of several people including celebrities.
“For most people who I deal with, their main issue is weight loss. But for me, it is health,” he says. According to him, prime health comes from maintaining a well-balanced and ideal weight. When weight isn’t managed well, health issues begin to arise and he’s not a stranger to treating such cases. “I often train people with pre-existing conditions such as PCOD, arthritis or joint problems, gastric issues related to digestion, failed bariatric surgeries, and cardiac issues of cholesterol and diabetes,” he says.
Achieving the UAE’s golden visa this year, as the first NRI in the health and fitness category, Baqar’s mission is to reach out to the masses with a holistic solution that is affordable and easy to follow from the privacy of their homes, and which connects all his followers to the charitable event goals and competitions such as the BN Spinnathons to uplift society and the less fortunate. “My goal is to educate people about the importance of health and that’s why I have started with my online platform which is affordable. In this way, I can train people personally at a nominal price. I educate them instead of just giving them a diet plan and goals,” he says.
Leaning into the Indian culture where women are at the centre of the household, Baqar’s focus is on women from all walks of life, especially homemakers because he believes that if the mother of the house is fit and motivated, she inspires all the members of the household and this is his raison d’etre so that he is not limited to working with certain segments of society, especially the middle or upper class. On the contrary, he is open to training all people, including teenagers and senior citizens.
“My approach is simple: I provide an overall plan – not a specific diet plan. It is a high-quality, low-calorie meal, high in antioxidants and nutrients,” says Baqar when asked about his secret to success working with over 14,000 clients from across the world. Baqar admits to using the same techniques when working with celebrities and models and other who train with dedication following rigorous routines. Some of his clients have been with him for over 20 years.
Listening to people’s stories and working with them according to their specific concerns is something that Baqar is well-known for. Meeting doctors and surgeons, working with health care professionals and caretakers, and going out of his way for each and every individual, Baqar was credited with the title and award of Fitness Doctor by Economic Times in 2018.
He leaves no stone unturned for his clients, regardless of their limitations. “I’ve trained Nizar Dawoodani – a ten times Mr. India titleholder and Mr. World Pro-Card Holder in the differently-abled category,” he says. For such cases and training of para-athletes, Baqar offers a one-on-one consultation before he begins training and coaching. His approach: personalised attention, committed to success.
Celeb power and lifting society
“One of most challenging celebrity cases was when I worked with Sanjay Dutt after his long break from cinema. He needed to get in shape for a movie, and I had to work with a back and knee condition to ensure he was toned and in shape for the movie shoot,” shares Baqar. In a matter of three months, he had achieved the task and the filming went ahead.
In another case, he was tasked by a film director to work with Priyanka Chopra to prepare her look for a particular role. “I created a plan and we worked on it together. Dedication and trust are all it takes in a coach,” he shares.
From then on, Baqar’s name and fame has grown among the Bollywood set.
Organising the Baqar Nasser Spinnathon events, the Glamorous Body Transformation Awards, and several others, he also supports the underprivileged segments of society. “Sunil Shetty and Neil Ntitin Mukesh have been a backbone to all these programs wherever I’ve wanted to make people healthy and fit. All my events were linked to charity and these two people always showed up for support, including many others.”
Baqar Nasser’s top diet tips for Ramadan
1. Divide & Conquer: Divide food into five portions – proteins, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, fibre and water.
2. Three’s The Rule: Consume three meals with the maximum calorie intake during breakfast. At Iftar, feast on a mix of all five foods. During Suhoor, focus on proteins and carbs.
3. Don’t Go Deep: Avoid deep-fried foods at all costs and end your fast with fruits.
4. Eat Clean: Consume perishable foods and stay away from anything that is canned, processed, or has an expiry date.
5. Train smart, not hard: Work your way slow and steady towards fitness and make sure to get eight hours of sleep.
For more information visit baqarnasser.com.