Pro fitness tips from PR’s fittest, most inspiring people!

A high pressure job needs a healthy body. And if you are finding it tough to leave your cozy bed in cold January for a workout, here are the inspiring stories of PR professionals for whom fitness is a way of life.

I am certainly inspired!

Ranjini Chalam, senior account director, Adfactors PR, Delhi

Ranjini Chalam used to be, in her own words, “Quite overweight and this definitely was not a ‘feel good’ factor. And this feeling is probably the one I shall be most grateful for. It was a heavy wakeup call and it brought me the motivation that led me to take up fitness workouts.”

Workout with benefits!
“I could breathe better, I could work harder, run faster, think better, not feel lethargic! It had turned my body into a ball of energy.”

Pro Tip
“Ideally, start early, very early. It will help you to start the day with a fresh mind and your ‘battery’ charged up for the day!

To all of you out there contemplating starting your workouts; all I can say is….

Just do it!”

Karan Bhandari, vice president, consumer and digital marketing, Weber Shandwick India,  Gurgaon

For this former seaman and BITS, Pilani alumni, fitness is, “Not an option, but a way of life. I think this time of the day comes as "ME" time.”

Fitness pro Tip
“Even if you have 30 minutes, don't skip out thinking you'll make up the next day. The key is consistency. It's pretty easy to fall out.”

Karan’s weekly workout

Geethanjali Tanikella, vice president — corporate communication, Mapmygenome India, Hyderabad

A cancer scare in 2017 is what led Geethanjali to her fitness journey. She explains, “Obesity added to the risk. Fortunately, I had access to experts. My colleague, a genetic counsellor, studied my health history and suggested lifestyle changes. On her recommendation, I went to an oncologist, who helped negate my risk with a preventive surgery. Post-surgery recovery took a while and then I started my fitness journey. I have my colleagues and my health coach who ensure that I don’t give up. With their support, I could achieve my first milestone: participate in and successfully finish the Freedom Hyderabad 10K Run.

Pro Tip
“Get up early [4 AM for me], take time to meditate, do some stretches, and walk at least for 5 km before checking office mail. My health coach at GOQii recommended a pre-workout caffeine shot — a blend of black coffee and virgin coconut oil to boost metabolism and to avoid sugar cravings through the day.” 

Komal Bhardwaj, consultant, Weber Shandwick India, Gurgaon

Komal  Bhardwaj shares openly that she was an emotional eater, "Binge eating was my way out of any tough situation. As a result, I put on weight when I started working in 2014. The growing weight and my inability to get rid of my cravings is what hit me one fine day and I enrolled into a gym."

Pro Tip
My progress so far motivates me to keep going. However, I am not dependent on a gym regimen completely, small changes like taking stairs, walking and cutting refined sugar have kept me away from sabotaging my weight-loss efforts. It’s the little changes paired up with an exercise regime, which have helped me in losing 18 kgs and eventually becoming stronger, healthier and fitter me. Mind you, cheat days are there, of course. But I don’t easily give in.”

Palin Ningthoujam, head – EXPD (digital & content marketing practice, Avian Media, New Delhi

For  Palin, the road to fitness began with a wake up call. He shares, “There was a time when it used to pain if I stretched myself to pick up something from under the table. I asked myself, if I didn't correct myself that time, then when? That was the start. I started small. From not being able to do one single push up, I guess I have come a long way to be able to do 100 kg presses, squats and deadlifts. “

Pictured right: Palin with his wife Bhawna at the gym

Pro Tip
“Make it a couple thing. My wife (Bhawna Sharma, she is more active than me by the way and I get up at 5am everyday and by 7am, we are back from the gym. If we can do this, anybody can.

Amrutha Moorthy, account executive, Adfactors PR, Bengaluru

Amrutha considers her daily workout as an important reset for the day! Running, boxing, she has tried a wide range of workouts and has now settled on functional training.

Says Amrutha, “As a child, I was a fat kid and got made fun of several times by other children and sometimes adults too. This really impacted me and  led to getting physically active.”

Pro Tip
“Staying physically active not only keeps you physically fit but also helps in maintaining sound mental health. When your body engages in physical activity, endorphins or the happy hormones kick in, aiding in uplifting your mood and keeping you in control of your emotions. All this helps when it comes to having to deal with demanding work schedules or meeting client deadlines.”

Nadeesh Bhambi, PR student, Gurgaon

A PR student from Xavier Institute of Communications, as a teenager, Nadeesh Bhambi had a serious health scare and was diagnosed with meningitis. Says Nadeem, “I survived the disease but it took a lot from me. My bones became brittle and my muscles atrophied. It took months before I could walk on my own again. A short walk left me winded. I felt  helpless and that was my turning point, when I decided to get fit and never feel helpless like that again.”

Pro Tip
“A life changing hack is to carry all your meals to work, including snacks and replace them with healthy foods. It satisfies your cravings and keeps you from ordering junk. Plus it keeps your metabolism in top shape.”

Gayathri Sharma, associate director — communication, PepsiCo India, Gurgaon

A traveller, dancer, workaholic and mother of two, Gayathri heeded the call of dance once again to restart her fitness journey.

She says, “For many years, while I was busy completing college, getting married, having kids and building a career, my passion for Dance kept calling to me. One fine day, I decided to visit my Guruji and restart my lessons, committing myself to one class a week. That’s when I realised that you will always be busy, but you will still be able to make time for something if you truly want to! Dancing brings me happiness and it’s also my own kind of spiritual escape, while helping me stay fit. I now perform at dance festivals and temples, and I love it.”

Reegal Jayani, account director, Weber Shandwick India, Gurgaon

'Self-Love' and 'Happiness'  is what motivates Reegal Jayani to stay fit.  She says, “I am a gym regular and love swimming with my daughter. With your willingness, the organization you work with plays a big role in it. At Weber Shandwick, the culture of leaving on time promotes a balanced life and you get time to spend with your family and pursue your passions.“

Pro Tip
“The best tip would be to stay active by including exercise in your daily routine in any form if you are not going to gym. My office is on the 15th floor of Cyber Greens and I make sure to go up and down through stairs at least once a day.”

Shayak Das, senior account manager, Skateboard Media, New Delhi

Recently, Shayak felt that he was getting lazy and unhealthy. Feeling that this effected his performance as a team leader, he took up working out seriously.

Says Shayak, “ I started working out regularly to counter the fatigue I started facing. Also, being presentable and rejuvenated is really imperative in any profession and all this made me realise, it’s high time I need to work on my fitness to be 100% active in life or at work.”

Shayak plans to undertake a Delhi-Kanyakumari motorcycle ride in 2018, almost a 5000 kms circuit.

Pro Hack
“We generally focus on coffee to a great extent during work hours. But a healthy food habit will always help the body to counter the stress and anxiety level:

  • A box of sprouts is always good to have between meals to boost the energy level.
  • One can keep a pack of soya milk in office and have it at regular intervals, rather than consuming coffee-Soya milk comes in a variety of flavours and adds value to our health.

Sheena Gandhi, account director, Weber Shandwick India

Fitness has always been a way of life for Sheena Gandhi.

She says, “Fitness has always been a priority for me. I run at 5.30 am three time a week and it’s my time! My morning workout makes me fresher, releases endorphins and allows me to channelize thoughts for the challenges that lie ahead.”

Jigar Chatwani, partner,  Vicara Communications, Mumbai

Jigar’s brush with lower back pain was a warning sign to get fit. This encouraged him to take up Yoga and running, basically non weight exercises.

Pro Tip
“The best and the most simple hack is to rise early. I start my day at 5.30, go for a jog with my dog and follow it up with Yoga. So by the time everyone is up you are all set to start work and have a productive day ahead. “

Amit Roy,  senior consultant, Weber Shandwick, Gurgaon

A bout of typhoid in 2013 and a bad relapse, led to a weight drop for Amit. He shares, “ My weight was  52kgs, a figure I very distinctly remember because that was my weight when I was 14, in 2003. I hated what I saw in the mirror and it had to change! So, I joined a gym.”

The results speak for themselves. Amit opines, “Fitness imparts self-confidence and more often than not, that is essentially what makes the difference between ‘good work’ and ‘exceptional work’ that you do.”

Pro Hack
“Treat it as an appointment — as important as a client-meeting, a media-round or a doctor’s appointment. If you are a pro at procrastination, this will help!”

Anubhav Chopra, consultant, Text100, Delhi

A few years ago, Anubhav says he was starting to feel jaded and tired at work, with neck and back pain, “ As a 25 year old professional it was a sad situation to be in. I consciously made the effort to streamline my lifestyle and include fitness activities right on top of my priority list. It was a revelation, it was as if I was on a happy pill.”

Pro Tip
“Remember: It is as important as speaking to your client on a daily basis.”

Preeti Binoy, lead-communications & public affairs, Consumer India, Johnson & Johnson Private Limited

Preeti Binoy shares her fitness motivation, “ For as long as I can remember, I have always been petit. After the birth of my daughter, I stopped caring about my body, and my work schedule really affected my eating habits. Within a few years, I was heading towards obesity. One morning during my maternity leave, I stepped on the scale and saw a number that scared me.  Worried about the serious health implications and my spouse who is a Type 1 diabetic I knew I had to do something.

Preeti’s healthy meal is pictured right!

“ I wanted to get back into swimming but hated the way I looked so I decided to try running instead. Within a year, I had fallen in love with running and lost the extra kilos. I learned to eat proper portion sizes again and what foods made me feel better.

 I realised that losing weight won't happen over — night. It takes time and effort. Find an activity or exercise that makes you happy and find ways to add that into your routine. Always choose your health and well-being first."

Bhushan Astulkar, Account Head, Ideosphere Consulting, Pune

A rise in weight was a wake up call for Bhushan. He says, “ I used to get tired easily, wasn’t even able to run 100 meters properly. One day my doctor informed me about my cholesterol levels which were almost about to get worse. As they say your face reflects the condition of your body, and that’s what happened with me. I started looking older because of being overweight. That was a turning point for me.”

Pro Hack
During a busy work schedule, I make sure I do stretches whenever I get a chance. Drinking a lot of water and 2-3 cups of green tea is on top of my list. Apart from these if I miss workout due to late work hours I avoid eating a lot and reduce my portions to a minuscule 2-3 egg white or an apple. It is a simple rule, “No Workout, No Food”. This keep things balanced for me. Taking small walks for 5 mins at work makes a lot of difference.” 

Naina R Siwach, vice president, Madison PR

Naina says she thrives on fitness as it makes her confidence and brings out her inner athlete. 

Naina shares, “One afternoon I decided to challenge myself to take 6 flights of stairs, which proved fatal to my stamina or lack of it. I suddenly realised that I had this great job and a fantastic bank of clients but no stamina. It did not add up well for the career path that I had so carefully chosen for myself and to that end, I pursued fitness relentlessly. So presently, my routine is waking up at 6 am and alternating my workouts with a 8K run, pilates, a refreshing swim or boot camps. I have extended my attitude towards fitness to a whole other level by ensuring that every holiday I take is planned around two of my favourite sports — surfing and diving. Currently, I'm a certified diver. “

Pierre Fitter,  partner associate, Genesis Burson-Marsteller, Gurgaon

Pierre a triathlon competitor says,  “The main reason I got into fitness is that I had been neglecting my health since college. Poor diet and lifestyle choices began to catch up and I began to feel the effects on my energy and my mental state. Earlier this year, I took part in a mini triathlon in Goa just to see if I'd survive the short distance. I had a blast going from swim to bike to run (Goa's scenery certainly helped!). Even though everything hurt like hell afterwards, I was hooked to the sport.  

Pierre Fitter transitioning from the swim to the bike leg at the New Delhi Triathlon Championship. He placed tenth, finishing the 2  km swim, 75 km bike and 18 km run in a total of 6 hours 10 minutes 24 seconds

Pro Tip
“Early morning workouts. I've found no other way to make it work. Your clients aren't up. Your team isn't up. Your spouse is sleeping soundly. It also means conscious sacrifices — or choices, as I prefer to call them. I don't go out more than once a week so that I can sleep earlier. After a good work out, the endorphins see me through to my first mug of tea.”

Arun Arora, group head-communications -Vedanta and chief communications officer-Cairn Oil and Gas India, Delhi

Says Arun Arora, “ A busy and hectic life prompted me to take up running as a hobby.From strolling to brisk walking to running was a gradual shift. Running is addictive.I have run three half marathons over last one year.”

Balaji Krishnaswami, head communications, Hindustan Power, Delhi

Bala, as his friends call him, took to working out after an accident. He says, “ I had gained weight and was not able to walk properly. I happened to go to a physiotherapist who recommended some exercises and I landed in a gym for that purpose. There I got hooked on to running and getting fit.

Interestingly, I went on my trek to get away from work — mobile network and data access for laptops in 2008. Since then , I have been trekking for the freedom it gives me and a life which is governed by nature.”

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