Colors of Courage: Map Swapneel Hazare’s journey from a U-19 cricketer to being Bollywood’s favorite trainer
The true blue Mumbaikar, who was born and brought up in Andheri, admits that Martial Arts was his first love even before cricket.
You may know of him as a cricketer, martial artist or Bollywood’s favorite fitness trainer, for Swapneel Hazare has certainly donned many hats. The true blue Mumbaikar, who was born and brought up in Andheri, admits that Martial Arts was his first love even before cricket. “I grew up watching Bruce Lee and had a full-size poster of his on my cupboard. I went on to learn the Go Ju Ryu Style of Karate under Jehangir Shroff, but that was when the conditioning and Kumite Fights took a toll on my body and I used to be black and blue.
“I was playing for Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy and I had to take a call on it. So, I stopped my Martial Arts training to pursue my Cricket,” he reminisces, sharing, “Like any other kid I started playing cricket in my building with rubber ball. At the age of 17 I went to Shivaji Park for formal cricket coaching under Ramakant Achrekar sir. Then following year I was selected for the Elf Vengsarkar Cricket academy at Oval Maidan. From there I went for the Sportstar trophy selection which is a kind of trial selection matches for Mumbai U-19. Luckily, I did well and I got selected to play for Mumbai U-19.
His foray into cricket shaped his future career as a trainer, Hazare explains how it came to pass. “A good performance for the Mumbai Team got me in the West Zone U19 Team and from there I got selected for the India U 19 Team to play against the Sri Lanka U-19 Team in 1998-1999 season. Swapneel made his Debut for Mumbai Ranji Trophy in 2000 season. “I got to share the dressing room with players like Sachin Tendulkar, Amol Mazumdar, Ramesh Powar, Paras Mhambrey, Abbey Kuruvilla, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan , Jatin Paranjpe, Aavishkar Salvi, Sairaj Bahutule, Sameer Dighe , Wasim Jaffar, Vinod Kambli in my early days and later on Abhishek Nayar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma in the later stages of my career,” he beams.
“Memories of playing cricket are the most beautiful memories I have. The highlight was the year of 2007 when Mumbai Ranji Team lost 3 games in a row and we had to win the next 4 to qualify for the knockouts. The way that Mumbai Team fought back from the defeats and went on to win the Semis and Final was the most memorable in my career. More than the finals the semis was a remarkable one. Mumbai was leading in the first innings by 120 runs against Baroda at the Motibaug Stadium in Baroda and in the second innings the Mumbai score card read 0/5 which was zero runs and 5 wickets down.
“Rakesh Patel and Irfan Khan were at their tormenting best. The pressure was something never seen or felt like. From there we went on to win was like a miracle. The papers called it the Rising of the Phoenix.”
Probe him about how he went from being an athlete to a trainer and subsequently the Head Trainer for Pro Kabaddi Team, and he quips, “During my career as a Fast bowler for Mumbai Ranji Trophy I suffered quite a few injuries. During these injury phases I learnt a lot, became more aware of my body and the way it functions. Did a sports training course Under Dr. Kinjal Suratwala who helped me a lot during my career.
“Later as I was coming to the end of my career in 2015, I resigned from BPCL and jumped in to the Training Industry for good. I was training people, when Zaheer Khan to come and help him with his high performance centre called Prosport’s Fitness and Pvt Ltd. That’s where I started my career as a Head Trainer and got an opportunity to train the Pune Kabaddi Team.”
He trained the Pune Kabaddi team for 5 years, “During this phase I came up with my own company called “SHIELD,” he recalls.
Little did he know that life had a few surprises in store for him as he would soon become a celebrity fitness trainer. Touching upon how he came to work with Hrithik Roshan, he reveals, “As I got in to training, I was training Vikas Oberoi for good 3 years. Hrithik at that point was looking for a shift in trainer to help him prepare for his role in WAR. Vikas recommended me to Hrithik and I clearly remember getting a voice note from Hrithik at 2 am in the night asking me if I could travel with him to Goa for a few days so he could experience my training principles and methodology. I went with him the very next day.
“Hrithik being Hrithik -a perfectionist he is, wanted to make sure he has got the right guy. And so he tested me in the gym, outdoors on the beach and in the pool. Once he was assured, he had the right guy he asked me to join him once we got back to Mumbai. That’s how my journey started with him in 2018, which continues till date,” he smiles.
Swapneel confesses that training Hrithik wasn’t easy, nor does is it easy even now after 4 years. “When I started with him he had been suffering from scoliosis and multiple injuries. The challenge was to manage those injuries and at the same time deliver the aesthetics he wanted to help him get ready for his role.”
He goes on to speak of training other celebrities like Arjun Kapoor. “I worked with Arjun for a short period during the shooting of Sandeep aur Pinky faraar. The target was to lose weight and tone up. He is a very chilled out guy and easy to work with. We did short bursts of workouts which included boxing and weight training to get him in shape.
Question him about how his training plans for actors like Arjun and Angad Bedi differ from the workout he plans for cricketers like Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Zaheer Khan; and pat comes the response, “Honestly, while it is difficult to compare, the efforts put in by athletes is towards sports performance; while the actor’s is towards aesthetics. But then again it all depends on the requirement of the role in the movie. In films, you can give as many takes as possible to get the scene right but in sports the athlete has only one chance to perform in a match. There is no Retake. That’s sports life.”
Ask him to impart a piece of advice for fitness enthusiasts who wish to train like the stars and he says, “Results come from doing the most simplest things Consistently and Correctly. So, keep putting in the hardwork and focus on the process. Results will come. Don’t look for shortcuts, because in life there are no Shortcuts,” he concludes.
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