Crouching tiger, hidden dragon

By Bharat Gupta.

Body builder, trainer and fitness model, Aftab Shaikh is our Man of the Month.

Agile, muscular, powerful yet cautious, aware and territorial, this July we unleash the man who is the Indian Tiger who has a fire of motivation burning within, that of a hidden dragon. Our Man of the Month Aftab Shaikh is everything a man must be, physically strong but soft at heart. In conversation with Bharat Gupta, the three things that stand out about Aftab are passion, humility and gratitude. Read to find out more about the man of the hour.


How did fitness turn from passion to profession for you?

I watched this movie “300” I think in 2008. Watching Gerald Butler on screen, I knew I had to make a body like that. This was the turning point. I started working out in the gym in 2009 and seeing a positive change in my health and body, I got hooked on. Soon after, I took part in a body building competition and stood third additionally winning the title of the best poser. It has now been over seven to eight years and motivating people to follow a healthy lifestyle has become a part of me. During this period, I’ve participated in multiple competitions, expos and photo shoots.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My Guru, Manish Advilkar has been my strongest influence. I look up to him like God, he is truly like my Godfather. Whatever I know today – the knowledge, the training…just everything has been taught to me by him.

To stay in shape all the time is quite a task. What lifestyle changes have you made to maintain your physique?

It is a complete lifestyle choice – no smoking, no drinking and no partying for me. If I know I will be out of the house for long, I carry my meals with me. There are plenty of healthy food options irrespective if you’re vegetarian or non – vegetarian.

How did fitness modeling happen to you? Do you enjoy it as much as working out?

I’m a body builder and a fitness trainer. So over a period of time, I started getting offers for print advertisements. With fitness modeling, you get an opportunity to work with different photographers who create a new look for you every time. So I enjoy this journey of being a part of new concepts and molding the body creatively for innovative looks.

How does it feel to be the “Man of the Month” this July and being shot by Andrew Adams?

I’ve always admired the “Men of India” because they showcase different types of Indian aesthetics. They truly bring out our culture and diversity. In the past I’ve worked with photographers who’ve always given me a very international look. But this was an amazing experience where Andrew Sir captured my Indian-ness. Being a foreigner, its inspiring to see how well he brings out the essence of India through his photography. This is the first time I was a part of such a theme, I loved the styling by Bharat of The Styling Co. who innovatively draped traditional fabrics and used jewellery as well. It’s beautiful how our culture is brought out, how there is no discrimination on the basis of color or caste, I really enjoyed the experience.

Photography: Andrew Adams

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Styling: Bharat Gupta for The Styling Co.

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