Bhutanese Actor Sangay Tsheltrim Shares His Fitness Secrets
Bhutanese Actor Sangay Tsheltrim Shares His Fitness Secrets

Not only has the Bhutanese actor worked with superstar Shah Rukh Khan in Jawan, he is also a real-life soldier who has spent years in the service of his country. The former professional bodybuilder and ‘Mr Bhutan’ was also seen in the web series The Freelancer on Disney + Hotstar, and is keen to showcase his acting skills in Bollywood as well as in Bhutanese cinema

Growing up in Phuentsholing, a small Bhutanese town on the border of West Bengal, Sangay Tsheltrim was an avid Bollywood buff. Just like a lot of his Indian friends, watching films of superstars Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan was at the top of his list. Not a very studious child, Tsheltrim was more into basketball and football. Taekwondo and dancing were his jam. 


However, Tsheltrim had a dream of serving his country. “I used to admire the army men because of the way they would carry themselves so smartly in their uniforms,” he recalls and after finishing Class 12th, he applied and was selected for training at the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune. The strapping young lad served in the Royal Bhutan Army for two years [RBA and RBG officers are trained at the Indian Army’s officer training institutes], where he was posted at the border outposts of India and China. “I was blessed to be selected in the Royal Bodyguard to guard my king and the members of the royal family. I served them for five years,” he shares. 



It was during his days at the Royal Bodyguard that Tsheltrim started paying heed to physical fitness. Watching Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films such as Terminator and Commando made him conscious of his own fitness levels. Tsheltrim was the personal security officer of Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck (also the president of the Bhutan Olympic committee) when he started working on his physique in 2007. “Wangchuck encouraged me and in 2012, I competed in the National Championship and stood fourth. I wanted to bring more medals for my country and realised that bodybuilding requires a lot of discipline, time and sacrifice. I am a soldier and we are taught in the academy to become mentally strong. If the mind can do, our body will follow,” he says. Tsheltrim resigned from the Royal Bodyguard and in 2015, he won the gold medal at the Asian level, and then went on to win the title of ‘Mr Bhutan’ in 2017. To encourage his countrymen to stay fit,Tsheltrim also opened a gym called ‘Thimpu Muscle Factory’. After five years of his career as a professional bodybuilder, he decided to hang up his boots in 2017 and spend more time with his family. 


However, just like in the movies, life had other plans for him. A year after he gave up his bodybuilding career, a producer-friend approached him to act in an action film. “In Bhutan, most of the films fall into the romance or epic genres, but there was no action hero. When this chance came my way, I realised that we have to test ourselves in various ways because one does not know what they are capable of,” he says. Tsheltrim’s debut in the Bhutanese film Singye – which means lion – was a runaway success. “Even now, people in Bhutan call out ‘Singye’ to me if I drive past them,” he says with a smile. 


Still, Tsheltrim never imagined that he would one day get to share screen space with some of his favourite Bollywood stars. On a visit to Mumbai to meet a director-friend, the actor was introduced to Salman Khan, who immediately took a liking to him and offered him a role in his film Radhe. “I was over the moon!” he says. 


But that was just another new beginning. Tsheltrim was recently seen is Shah Rukh Khan’s blockbuster Jawan. He plays a police officer who has pivotal role in bringing the onscreen father and son together. The 41-year-old actor is all praise for SRK and believes that the superstar has the ability to sense nervous energy. “He cracks jokes and greets them so that they don’t feel nervous around him. The first time I met him, he shook my hand and thanked me for being a part of Jawan. I am blessed to have worked with both the Khans,” he adds. 


Tsheltrim was also seen recently in Disney + Hotstar’s The Freelancer.– Currently, along with acting, he is also focusing on prooducer films. “I realise how many people struggle to be where I am, and I have got it really easy. I want to capitalise on this and work in Bollywood projects. I want to produce and act in at least one film in Bhutan every year. I want to entertain the people of my country. I am learning a lot from Bollywood and I want to go back to Bhutan and make good films there as well,” he says  



How important is fitness for you? 


It is because of my body that I got into Bollywood. Salman sir was impressed with my body and my face. I am a fitness icon in Bhutan, and someone who has brought so many medals for my country. Fitness comes first for me and I never miss out on my workout. My gym and my office are in the same building complex where I live, making it easier for me to do my daily workout. 


Tell us about your diet and workout routine. 


Among the most important things for me are my meals. I eat the same things every day as much as possible unless I am out somewhere for dinner or enjoying a cheat day. My workout routine consists of spending one hour doing my weight training and 30 to 45 minutes of cardio. Once or twice a week, I also indulge in some kicking and boxing to keep up my flexibility levels for doing action scenes. 


Can you give us a breakdown of your meals? 


I usually start my day with approximately 70 to 80 gm of instant oats, 10 egg whites and two whole eggs with some nuts such as almonds, walnuts and cashews, and a cup of black coffee. I have a protein shake between breakfast and lunch. Lunch consists of brown rice or red rice, chicken breast and broccoli grilled in olive oil. I work out again post lunch and have another protein shake post that. Dinner consists of about 100 gm of carbs with either fish or chicken and a vegetable salad. I maintain my weight between 90 and 95 kgs. 


What is your mantra for unwinding? 


I have my farmhouse which is one hour away from the capital. It is a beautiful place with the most amazing views of sunset and sunrise. Every weekend, I go and stay there with my family and spend time with them. I don’t drink, nor do I party till late. Spending time with my family, especially my 15-year-old daughter, is important for me. 


What is your advice for someone who is just starting his/her fitness journey? 


The first and foremost thing is to gain knowledge about fitness, health and diet from someone who has experience in the field. If you don’t have the right knowledge, you will feel lost and shy. Learn about the right diet. Until 2009, all I knew about diet was that eggs are good and one should drink milk. Now, I know it is all about maintaining the macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fats. In Bhutan, I often advise health leaders and politicians to design a programme on national television so that we can educate people about the right diet. So, before hitting the gym, learn what one should eat and not eat. 

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