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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Women’s Day Special: Why urban women are choosing fitness as a lifestyle

International Women's Day 2020: Here are some of the reasons why women are thinking fitness.

Written by Jayashree Narayanan | Pune | Updated: March 8, 2020 8:52:04 am
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A little glance over social media would explain how celebrity fitness is a big draw with names like Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, Disha Patani and the likes trying out different fitness activities every once in a while. From yoga to Pilates, boxing to strength and conditioning, celebrities, especially women, have shown how to pull off challenging fitness activities and in the process are continuing to inspire millions of other women to take their health, including physical and mental one, on priority. However, it isn’t just limited to the crème de la crème.

Urban educated women are taking up various fitness activities and, in the process, creating a change in the mindset around women’s health and fitness. This International Women’s Day, indianexpress.com spoke to a few women on what made them take fitness seriously and what keeps them ticking.

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Parul Pushkarna with her trainer at the gym. (Source: Parul Pushkarna)

‘I do it for confidence’

For 27-year-old Parul Pushkarna who works in the corporate sector, strength and conditioning training was a natural progression once she understood how poignant is muscle strength. “I started with aerobics in the first year of college because I wanted to lose weight. I managed to bring down my weight from 75 kgs to 54 kgs within six months. I gradually realised that toning the muscles is also equally important and I then started to lift weights,” said Parul, who initially began with lifting 10 kilos and now can lift a mighty 120 kilos with ease.

Looking back at her fitness journey, Parul mentioned, “When I started off, I wasn’t that confident in my skin. But prioritising my health and fitness has surely improved my confidence levels, has had a calm effect on me. I naturally feel better, more energised, post my one and a half to two hour workout every morning,” Delhi-based Parul said.

Her mantra to keep going

At all times, women are expected to live for others. I feel fitness is the only thing that we can do for our own selves. Also, here we are talking just not about physical fitness but mental health and happiness too.

Her go-to exercises

I used to hate burpees initially but now they are an essential part of my routine. They help sculpt like none other. Squats and push-ups too.

‘Wanted to add more variety’

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While 35-year-old Mathangi Badrinathan was always inclined towards a fitness-oriented lifestyle owing to her food and nutrition degree, it was marathon running that the mother to a nine-year-old child longed to take up. “It has been five years since I have been participating in marathons. I have liked sports always so going for marathons now a days gives me a sort of happiness as it rekindles my childhood memories of running around with that free spirit,” explained an elated Mathangi, who has completed 5K diatnces and now plans to scale up.

While people say that age doesn’t matter when it comes to taking up fitness, Mathangi urges women to try and make an early start. “It’s not just about weight loss, it is about keeping yourself fit. As we reach 35 years of age, by nature our body tends to become weak and lethargic. And since we are living a sedentary lifestyle, it is important for us to involve in some activity or the other,” said the Bengaluru-based.

Her mantra to keep going

Women have always proved themselves in all fields. Till now, I have not seen or heard of anything that women can’t achieve. It applies to fitness as a lifestyle too.

Her go-to exercises

I cycle, do zumba or aerobics alternate days. I have also included yoga for flexibility and daily one hour of badminton.

‘For the sake of my mental health’

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When photographer Priyamvada Mangal experienced severe levels of stress which caused her immunity to drop down and her productivity took a hit, she decided to join a yoga class once a week. However very soon, she decided to enroll herself for a seven-month Teacher Training Course (TTC) of 900 hours to understand the yogic philosophy in a much nuanced way. “Yoga has changed me completely. I am now more mentally sorted and fit which has automatically improved my schedule. There were certain things we learnt in our course like reflection, gratitude and journalling which have really helped me change my perspective about a lot of things,” said Priyamvada.

Mumbai-based Priyamvada is currently teaching yoga after her TTC and also goes to learn twice a week at an advanced class. Emphasising that fitness is “not only about the physical aspect”, Priyamvada said, “Your diet, sleep and even how calmly and productively you do things that are important to you is also as important if not more. If you are mentally fit, then you’d like to sleep well and even choose the right kinds of foods that show on your overall health.”

Her mantra to keep going

Everyone does everything for themselves. What is important is to make the right choice, be it a man or a woman. If you are eating a fruit vs eating a chocolate, both are your choices to make. The question is which is better. The same principle applies for spending money to go to a late-night show versus spending money for an early morning yoga class.

Her go-to exercise and diet

I do at least an hour of yoga, few minutes of meditation and try to eat the right kind of food. For example, fruits, coconut water and home-cooked food.

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