The Fitness Hub

Not too long ago, the prospect of facing Zaheer Khan as he ran up to deliver a speeding bouncer or a cutting Yorker would drive many a batsman to the brink of complete panic. At his peak, Zak the Ripper was one of the most feared pace bowlers in international cricket, taking 282 wickets in 197 ODI innings, and 311 wickets in 165 test innings. Injury ruled him out of action during last year’s IPL, but he returned to fitness for this year’s edition, contributing wickets on the pitch and invaluable mentoring in the dressing room. In a recent telephone chat with You & I, Zaheer opened up about his latest business ventures and the prospect of being recalled to the national side.
What is the goal of ProSport Fitness? Is it just a gym or something more?
ProSport Fitness is a place not just for exercise and weightlifting, but a hub for fitness and everything to do with it. We started ProSport with the vision to get the best of several disciplines under one roof, which is why we have partnered with physiotherapy and training experts such as Andrew Leipus and Adrian Le Roux. Yasmin Karachiwala takes care of everything to do with Pilates, and we have a number of personal trainers and nutrition experts. But the important thing is that these facilities are available to anyone who wants to use them. ProSport is not an exclusive service. We tailor the regimens for individual goals, whether that is for a professional athlete to rehabilitate from a serious injury, or to help a corporate employee get fit enough to run a marathon. We think these are all achievable, and we are doing our part to help a variety of people.
Zaheer Khan 
Has your career as a professional athlete influenced ProSport?
Yes, of course. I would say that the idea for ProSport has been brewing in my mind for a long time. I was simply waiting for the right moment and the right people to come along. It was always something that I wanted to pursue, but when you are playing professionally on a regular basis, you are restricted in terms of time. Time is required to set up these sorts of projects. During my time with the Indian national cricket team, I would often need to travel overseas for physiotherapy when I got injured. That sort of experience made me want to fill this gap of not having such all-in-one fitness hubs in India, where advice is given to locals by locals. But through ProSport, I want to achieve that, and I believe we can provide this kind of training without having to look abroad.
You played for the Delhi Daredevils this season in the IPL after almost year out due to injury. You took seven wickets in seven matches and displayed some of the rhythm that bowlers need. How wouldyou assess the season?
The last year has been tough because of the injury that I sustained in IPL 2014, which put me out for almost a year. But rather than looking at it as a blow to my career, I took it up as a challenge. I wanted to get back to full fitness and play professionally again, which I have managed to do. Even though there is still much work to be done, I’m glad things have worked out so that I’m in a position to keep getting stronger and fitter.
There was talk of your returning to the national team for the ongoing Bangladesh series, which unfortunately did not happen.
Zaheer Khan 
Would you be able to play if you’re called up in the future?
Of course, but getting there is all about fitness. I have just started playing again after many months of rehab work, so there is still plenty to do in terms of getting fit enough to play a longer format of the game. I’m able to play the shorter Twenty20 version as I proved in the IPL, but there is still some distance until I am fit enough to play a One-Day International or Test match. But I’m working on that and looking forward to the future.
Are you involved with any other business ventures?
Right now there are two major spheres that I’m involved in. I’ve had my hospitality ventures for almost ten years, and we are concentrating on expanding those businesses. At the same time, ProSport is something we need to put time into. It has not even been a year since it’s launched, which means that there is still a lot of work to be done in driving the fitness hub.               – as told to Ashwin