Dancer and choreographer Terence Lewis is a household name, thanks to the popularity of reality shows Dance India Dance and Nach Baliye, on which he was one of the judges. Lewis has also choreographed for Bollywood films such as Lagaan and Jhankaar Beats, musicals like Children of the Sea and Finding Marina and Disney India’s The Beauty and the Beast.
Apart from being a crafted artiste, Lewis is also very conscious of his well-being — physical, mental and spiritual. Sharing his mantras to keep healthy, Lewis begins by confessing that though he didn’t come from a financially privileged family, he was gifted with his parents’ genetics. “We have no family history of diseases. My hair, skin and body are because of my dad and mum; I was blessed with good genetics. However, then you play the cards that you’ve been dealt with,” he says.
The lifestyle that comes with being a dancer plays a big part in helping him stay fit, says Lewis, and adds, “Fortunately, due to my career in dancing and fitness regime, I have always been slim and fit. I understand that for a producer, it is good to have a judge who’s in good shape because then people look at you with a certain kind of admiration. It’s a good enough reason for a person like me, a choreographer, to be fit.” Besides, as Lewis regularly performs at various events such as weddings and corporate gigs, he realized that he had to stay fit, there was no other choice. So what are his mantras?
1. Stay moderate, avoid extremes: “I’m not someone who works well with restrictions — do this, don’t do that. I believe you should eat as much as you need. The eyes and mind are hungrier than our stomach. Once you are full, your body signals you to stop eating, otherwise, you’ll be sluggish and lazy, and I don’t like being lazy,” he says. But Lewis might also occasionally indulge in a pizza slice instead of the whole pizza. Once in a while, he would eat a gulab jamun too. Therefore, he doesn’t restrict himself but maintains moderation and avoids greed pangs. “One must ensure that 90 per cent of the food they eat should be clean,” he says. Eating healthy is also a no-nonsense for Lewis who says he’s not on any diet but just controls his carb intake. “I base my eating on scientific concepts. Eat a bit more protein, a lot of veggies and ensure you consume the required micro and macro-nutrients,” he says.
2. Varied fitness regime: Lewis hits the gym three to four times a week. However, all that strength training also stiffens his muscles. “Therefore, I practice yoga every day in the morning for two hours. This helps loosen up my body for the gym training the next day,” he says. Apart from fitness exercises, Lewis also likes to do small chores at home that keep him active. “I don’t have a house help throughout the day so I do the small tasks at home that keep me on my toes,” he adds.
3. Mind control: For his mental calm, the choreographer likes to sit quietly with his eyes shut and focus on his breath and clearing his mind — a meditation or relaxation of sorts, which is mantra number three. “Sometimes, I press these acupressure points to relieve stress and even lie in Shavasana (lying supine with the limbs spread out) and relax. I like to perform relaxing yoga poses and be in that transcendent state for a few minutes. I have found these poses build a connection with your body and mind. In that space, I set my intention for the day and prioritise what I need to do and avoid. They are all easy poses and don’t require strength; anyone can perform them,” he says. Being connected but not getting emotionally attached to people and things is Lewis’ philosophy of life. “Be passionate and intense about what you do but also maintain a distance so that you can step aside and not get so grappled by it. Be emotionally intelligent, that’s my mantra. Learn to be kind, even if people have treated you badly. As far as possible, let’s go of things. Push as hard as you can but if things aren’t working, let go of them,” says Lewis.
4: Disconnect from the virtual world: For the last three years, the artiste has disconnected himself from TV and OTT platforms like Netflix. “I use the time that is usually spent watching TV for self-love and reflection. I like to read books on psychology and how the mind functions. I spend time doing shadow work (a theory and practice developed by psychoanalyst Carl Jung) and trying to figure out how to be a better human being. It doesn’t mean I have reached a zen space, it’s an everyday job,” he says.
5. Surround yourself with positive people, avoid gossip: “I keep away from people who are unproductive and make fun of others. I keep away from people who are happy due to other people’s stupidity or misery. It’s not uplifting. I don’t want to base my understanding on how someone else is living. I don’t want my life to be good when in comparison with others; my life should be good independent of someone else’s life,” he adds.