‘Don’t treat me like a cricketer…’: How Virat Kohli surprised Royal Challengers Bangalore fitness trainer

VillacolliThe passion for fitness is well known but beyond the personal sphere it has sparked a revolution in Indian cricket with players embracing a new culture of fitness. While Kohli is the face of this trend-setting, Royal Challengers Bengaluru strength and conditioning coach Shankel Basu has been a silent catalyst. Speaking on Season 2 of the RCB podcast, Basu gave some insight into Kohli’s world of fitness and his impact on other cricketers.

“The responsibility for this change (passion for fitness) lies with Virat. I’ve been seeing him since 2009. In 2014, he said he had a stiff back, can you do something about it? It’s only been six weeks, we can do that Didn’t do much at the time. But in 2015, he said you should have a bigger role. So, I told him, we’re going to make a template for you, and I’m going to have to make a big change to the training you’re doing now. He asked a lot of technical questions, and after a few back and forth conversations, he said, “Okay, let’s get started,” Basu said.

Yet even Basu, who has worked with multiple interdisciplinary athletes, was blown away by Kohli’s commitment to fitness.

“Virat watched me train Deepika Pallikal (Indian squash player and Dinesh Kartik) That time she was in the top 10. So, Kohli told me not to treat me like a cricketer but treat me like an individual athlete. So, I told him you have to train like an Olympian, and I used to quote Novak Djokovic to him a lot. I go on and on about this, but I have never met anyone like Virat Kohli. He can do the simplest, most boring things in life every day, and it doesn’t matter if he’s performing (on the field). But that passion for excellence and that passion to be extraordinary is unbelievable. It helped me convey my syllabus to him,” Basu said.

Basu, who also worked with the Indian team, said that once Kohli, the then India and RCB captain, was sure of following the fitness model, he could easily convey the message to the other players, citing the example of Dinesh Karthik.

“People are always looking at visual health, they look at you (athlete) and say oh yes, he looks fit. But athletic fitness is very different. Yes, Virat is very fit and he looks (fit) ,cosmetics, that’s how lucky he is. He’s very strong. It’s the same with Dinesh Karthik… His tenacity and solidity on the cricket pitch are unbelievable. I mean, he’s the Ryan of cricket Giggs. He never got hurt a lot and barely lost any time on the field. So, once the captain is factored into the theory, the rest is easier. My theory is that once you hit one, you hit five, Once you hit five, you hit 50 and once you hit 50, you hit the nation,” he further added.

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