India's Test captain Virat Kohli says his whole outlook towards fitness changed after IPL 2012 and a healthier body has not only made him a better batsman but also an improved fielder.
Kohli is arguably the fittest Indian cricketer and as captain, he expects his teammates to cut no corners on their physical well-being. At an event on Tuesday, Kohli recalled how he started paying more attention to his fitness.
"It was after the IPL in 2012. Till then I did not focus much on the physical aspect. I never got into the minute details of fitness, things like what I need to eat from morning to night, how much I need to work out, how much I need to train. After that IPL, I started listening to my body," said Kohli, whose next challenge is the tour of the West Indies starting next month.
The batting star said with his supreme fitness levels, he feels he can do anything on the field.
"I made a lifestyle choice (back in 2012). I wanted to explore a new side of my body to take me to the next level because I never wanted to be average. I wanted to best in the world. So I always had that mindset but never had the physical ability (before 2012)."
The level Kohli has taken his fitness to was summed up aptly by India's fitness trainer Shankar Basu. "Virat wants to be the best athlete in the world," he had said recently. Kohli insists improved fitness has immensely helped his fielding and not just his exploits with the bat.
"When you become fit, you feel you can do anything. I will give you one example. I was never a quick fielder. I was never willing to field in every position. But after becoming fitter, lighter and stronger, I overcame all those doubts I had (about fielding). Now it (staying fit, eating right) has become second nature to me," he said.
His world has changed ever since be became a "fitness freak" and Kohli now wants the younger generation of India to pay more attention to health and fitness.
"If you look at some of the statistics (rising health problems in India), it causes fear in your mind. So I want to create awareness on fitness, the importance of staying fit and healthy. You would be able to do what you want to do only when you are feel fit from inside.
"I have never been as fit as I am today. It has worked beautifully for me. It has become a lifestyle choice for me. Even in off time, I watch what I eat. In fact, I get more excited about fitness, feeling good, being healthy than anything else. That is probably because by body realises that fitness is what I would need after my professional career is done," Kohli added.