The fitness industry has come of age. In this domain, knowledge and hard work determine success, not gender. Women are not just surviving as fitness professionals, they’re thriving. A respectable status along with financial security and independence are the few things you can take for granted as a female entering the industry.
To paint the truest picture for every aspiring female fitness professional, we held a live discussion to answer questions that may be encircling your mind: can a female succeed in a male-dominated industry? Will men be comfortable being trained by a woman? What about gender biases and prejudices?
We interacted with our female students (now fitness professionals) to know about their experiences as women who chose the fitness industry to become financially secure and independent. They dictate life on their own terms. You can too.
Now, these #wonderwomen are reaping all the successes as fitness professionals. They made a killing before the lockdown, and they’re earning despite the lockdown, sustaining their lifestyle, training international clients, debunking myths, and paving the way for those who may be at a crossroads in their life. We proudly present K11’s wonder women, who chose the road not taken.
Different Backgrounds. Same Destination
One began her fitness journey as an athlete, one as a reputed banker, one as a successful engineer, one as a skilled chef, one as an advertising professional, one as an entrepreneur, and one as a novice who was simply curious about fitness sciences. Every woman had her own hurdles to overcome. Each had her battles to fight. But, the aim was the same: to become a fitness professional. Both Cofounder and Director and CEO Kaizzad and Kalyani Capadia, respectively, asked the most relevant questions to represent the industry as it stands for female professionals:
- When did fitness become a career option?
- How much did they think they could earn as fitness professionals?
- How did they decide to charge their consultation fees?
- How was, or rather is, the experience of training male clients?
- How many of them were told “This (being a female fitness professional) is not going to work.”
Feel free to skip to any question you feel resonates yours. We start with the very first question. The free-flowing conversation has been divided into parts 1 and 2. The following section covers Part 1.
Question: How did you begin your fitness journey? When did fitness become a career option? When did educating yourself become a decision?
Mayuri Deshmukh, a national-level rock climber started us off with her origin story. As a junior athlete, she searched for the right coach with correct knowledge to boost her performance and reach her prime, but she found none on whom she could rely.
“I felt like I was training for it (competition) on my own. And at the same time, coaches were not giving me the right kind of guidance that I was looking for, especially in training camps.”Mayuri Deshmukh
That’s when she began researching the regimen of other teams in the world. That’s when she read about K11 School of Fitness Sciences and decided to enroll. Soon, Mayuri realized there were more people looking for proper knowledge, the kind she was learning every day in school. She was excited by the fact that kids at the age of 11 years, with this knowledge, would be unstoppable at her age.
“Knowledgeable coaches were lacking, and there were a lot of people interested to know more, the same way I was looking for proper knowledge and guidance.”Mayuri Deshmukh
Mayuri further added that she would’ve loved to have had this knowledge at the age of 10, and she knew there were many who felt the same way. This was the moment when she decided to become a fitness professional. Mayuri began her career by coaching kids aged 10 years and above, so that they peak with all the components of fitness.
Sefra Correa was up next, who was completely new to the fitness industry. She has a Masters in Engineering, and she was an engineer by profession. But soon, she became dissatisfied with her job. She wanted to switch careers to keep her happiness meter at an all-time high.
Sefra’s husband introduced her to the concept of fitness and the idea of a career in the fitness industry. Coincidentally, he worked as a personal trainer. Sefra immediately took to the idea. The fact that she began to follow an active lifestyle helped too. This turn of events is how Sefra’s story began at K11.
“I completed the course just 6–8 months back from K11, the nutrition course, and for my surprise and what has encouraged me is I’m getting clients even during the lockdown. Presently, I’m only taking nutrition consultations and I’m doing the personal training course from K11.”Sefra Correa
She recently completed the Certified Sports Nutritionist Course (CSN), and she’s training clients as we speak.
Jui Inamdar hailed from a different profession too. She worked in the travel industry with British Airways BPO. It was her first job after graduating. But, through the years, her health began to decline. She was diagnosed with osteoporosis at the prime of her life. It made her physically weak. She wanted to find a way to become strong again.
Jui added that she felt as if she had aged 70 years ahead of time. She consulted the best doctors who suggested surgery for both her knees. But, she knew there had to be another way. There had to be a better answer to her problem. Enter K11.
“That’s when I decided that I want to learn fitness, and if I’m somebody who’s going through this, there’s a huge gap between something that’s not being taught right to the people, and I want to be a fitness professional. I just had it in my mind that I want to do it.”Jui Inamdar
For someone as daring as Jui, there was no prevailing fitness profession during that time. Trainers didn’t have the proper credentials. There was this huge divide between a trainer and a fitness professional. But, once K11 opened its doors in 2003, headed by Kaizzad Capadia, Jui knew exactly where her fitness journey would begin.
Sonal Tiwari was next up, who is currently preparing to be a part of Delhi Police. Formerly, she was obese and used to be bullied in school because of her body composition. It’s what caused her depression. Instead of moping about it, she decided to take a stand for herself and her health. That’s when her journey with fitness began, and it meant more to her than simply looking good.
“Mere liye fitness ka jo journey start hua tha, sabse pehle maine apne aap ko transform kiya”Sonal Tiwari
To perfect her knowledge, Sonal enrolled at K11 School of Fitness Sciences to know the exact science behind her transformation. She didn’t crown herself the queen of exercise science on the basis of her transformation alone. She wanted to walk on the scientific path toward fitness, because she wanted to coach ethically, with scientifically proven facts.
Deepa Vaswani is a banking veteran, having spent nearly a decade as a professional. Deepa never struggled with her weight, and working out was a regular, enjoyable part of her day. But there was a problem at every gym, which she decided to eradicate or at least help rectify for herself.
“I found that there was no uniformity in what various trainers at various gyms told me, or what I was reading on social media…I was trying to understand what is the best exercise to do because I have this limited time to work out. That’s why I decided I wanted to understand the science of fitness to just know once and for all what’s right and what’s wrong.”Deepa Vaswani
But Deepa was certain she was not switching professions. This was for her personal growth. After successfully clearing the CSN and Diploma in Personal Training (DPT) course, she feels that her mind, body, and soul speak louder than words.
“I saw how my body improved and changed for the better. I was getting older. I was already in my mid-thirties by the time I was doing this…and I saw ‘Wow, my body is changing at this age, when I should be on the decline. I’m actually looking better right now’”Deepa Vaswani
Shreya Roy is yet another fine example of a woman entering and making a fine career in the fitness industry. She used to earn a living as a software engineer, but she struggled with obesity: touching 110 kg at one time. Then, she realized she needed to be in shape, to be fit from the inside out.
During her transformation, she met her husband to be, who fortuitously happened to have belonged to the initial batches of K11 students. Owing to his knowledge, Shreya lost weight faster and better. But that wasn’t it. She too wanted to procure this knowledge for herself. That’s when she took her first steps toward fitness, toward K11. This is when she realized she could earn a living and feel fulfilled at the same time.
“From there, my journey of studying about fitness started, and then, after studying about it, having the knowledge, and applying it on my body, I realized that this is something that everybody should know. This is not rocket science, and everybody should get the benefits of it and that’s how I got into the fitness industry, and I cannot thank enough that I’m in this industry because this is the most fruitful, most…what do you call it…the kind of gratification you get from the kind of result you see among your students when they get stronger, they get better, and when physically they are becoming better, it’s an amazing experience.”Shreya Roy
Sanjana Arora struggled to manage her weight too. Like any one of us who didn’t know where to go, she took matters in her own hands to lose weight. In the process of her transformation, she read a lot and processed lots of mixed information. She needed to separate scientific fact from fiction.
One day, Sanjana read a research paper and decided to add a scientific edge to her efforts. Soon, she found that the lines written in that paper helped her lose weight. Then, another interesting thing happened. The science didn’t end up boring her. Rather, the science contained in the research paper sparked an undying curiosity. Without her even knowing it, Sanjana had taken her first steps toward fitness sciences.
“The knowledge was so much interesting, and I got so much interested that I thought I need to learn more. I need to know more. That’s when I came for my courses at K11 for DPT and CSN.”Sanjana Arora
Nilparna Sen was an advertising professional and had no plans to be in the fitness industry. She didn’t come from a sports background. On top of that, she started working out later than she would’ve liked. But, things took a fortuitous turn when she had a year off in between her studies. Initially, Nilparna entered the gym purely for esthetics, to become an insta model so to say.
She wasn’t obese. She wasn’t skinny. She just wanted to be fit. But, as she transformed, she found more than vanity. Nilparna found discipline and ambition. These two ingredients then began shaping and fine tuning every aspect of her life. She thought,
“I need everybody to feel what I’m feeling. I need everybody to feel, yes, great about their bodies but also about their lives…I wanted to give back to the industry. That’s when the thought of taking the leap of faith came in”Nilparna Sen
Nilparna researched and read up on all the coaches in the world, and then she made a comparison between them and the coaches in India. She concluded that the celebrity coaches in India had no scientific logic. So, she found a gap. Nilparna wanted to fill this gap with uniform, science-backed knowledge. At the same time, she observed that the fitness industry had a greater reward potential than the saturated advertising industry. Her decision to enter the fitness industry was as emotional as it was tactful.
Eager to leave her footprints at the doors of the fitness industry, she happened to have met a student of K11 who told her about this course at K11. The rest is her story in the making. Nilparna was pleasantly touched by her own journey and shared how she felt while she was a student:
“every day, I woke up like it’s the best day of my life. I got to coach clients. I found my flow, found my zen. I did it for a few years and thought I think I can take on more challenges”Nilparna Sen
Currently, Nilparna is the manager of a gym.
Rihanna’s fitness journey took her by surprise too! The turn she took was by pure chance, because by profession, she’s an interior designer. But, she was always a fitness enthusiast—always scrutinizing every kg gained or lost. What placed her on the path toward fitness was a skin disease known as psoriasis. She went doctor to doctor to find a cure. The ultimate verdict was that there was no cure.
Then, Rihanna struggled to manage her weight along with an appearance that she wanted to have. She then considered going to a dietitian, but sage advice from a friend stopped her. Her friend suggested, “Why you want to spend on a dietician? Why don’t you just join a school where you will gain knowledge and apply it on yourself?”
The advice seemed to have hit home because that’s exactly what Rihanna did. The eager student then enrolled for the CSN and DPT courses, and that’s when science came to her rescue.
“While attending the classes, within a month, I saw that I’m getting fitter and my psoriasis was getting under control because I never used to eat that much amount of protein, and your skin is made of protein.”Rihanna
She went on to add,
“With all this knowledge, I got this psoriasis under control, I started looking better, and while spreading this knowledge, my dad reduced his excess weight, my sister and everyone. They were just finding it so good.”Rihanna
Waves of happiness and fulfillment continued to waft over Rihanna, and she decided to turn this fulfilling passion into a profession. The K11 Placement Cell was swift in spotting her talent, and Rihanna secured her first job as a fitness professional at the crème de la crème chain of gyms: Fitness First.
Padmaja knew exactly what she wanted before enrolling: to set up a gym or studio of her own. She came with a sports background, but she too struggled to manage her weight. Since her college days, Padmaja coveted the sight of an ideal body composition—how tops contoured a nicely shaped body. There was one thing she knew for sure though, that being skinny and being fit are poles apart.
It was big of her to admit the wrong approach she followed to lose weight, after studying correct fitness sciences from K11. Wanting to know the difference between skinny and fit was what incited her to board a train that led her to fitness station.
Then, a thought struck, in which she wanted to own a gym, be her own boss, an entrepreneur. When she told her father about this venture, who is a successful business owner himself, she was faced with a pertinent question: what do you know about the fitness industry? Padmaja knew she didn’t know a lot. That’s when the Google searches began, and that’s when she clicked on the search result K11 School of Fitness Sciences.
She completed her CSN course and then branched out to practicing powerlifting. Now, Padmaja is a national athlete. The rest, as they say, is history in the making. Everyone was utterly supportive when Padmaja was out to create that one shot, one opportunity for herself.
“My point, which I want to say is ki, opportunity jo hai, it’s said that opportunity knocks on your door only once, but to create that chance of opportunity is in our hands…kyunki agar mai try hee nahi karti powerlifting, mai kabhi nahi jaan paati ki mujhe kya karna hai life mey ”Padmaja
Anmol previously worked as a chef, and her fitness journey has been tasteful to say the least (pun intended). It all started with her idea of wanting to open her café. But Anmol wanted to have a unique selling proposition that was a class apart. She wanted to learn about correct nutrition, the right ingredients, so that she could make something better, sell something better. She wanted to switch from working in a kitchen to operating her café. Thus began her tryst with fitness.
“I was not really interested in working in the kitchen at that time, so that was when I had taken a long break thinking what do I do now because I cannot work in the kitchen. So, I got to know about K11 through the Facebook page and many other things”Anmol Sadarangani
Coincidentally, Anmol was also working out at the time, and her personal trainer was none other than a K11 graduate. AnmoI’s inquisitive nature regarding the reason behind each movement led her to the doors of K11. Her personal trainer was quick to notice the fire in her belly, and that’s why he recommended K11’s courses. She started with the DPT course and then fortified that with the CSN course. With all the knowledge gained, Anmol had an eagle eye’s view of fitness. She concluded by saying,
“The science I was learning was so interesting because I’ve always been a person who loves to study. I suddenly got so much to study that I got so happy that I thought I should do everything that’s there in the courses.”Anmol Sadarangani
First Part Break
That concludes the first half of our conversation with these wonder women. Stay tuned. Part 2 will swiftly follow suit!