CHENNAI: I come to Chennai because there are boys here, says Sucheta Pal with a laugh. Don’t get her wrong — there are plenty of boys back home in Mumbai, just not many who attend her zumba classes, she complains. India’s first licensed master trainer was in the city for an aqua zumba pool party on Sunday at the Haddows Club. And she gushes, “This is my second trip to Chennai this year, and it’s been a real blast so far.”
Quite the opposite of what most folks would imagine, Sucheta started her career as an engineer, working long corporate hours like most people she knew. “Except dance was something I knew was always my passion,” she recalls. And so she pursued it...all the way to Connecticut, USA, in the hope of bettering her jazz and contemporary dance moves. Instead, she chanced upon zumba by accident.
“I remember the day I saw it for the first time so clearly,” she says. “There were about 80 people in this studio, laughing, shouting, having fun. Then the instructor walked out. And this woman was extremely obese! But the dancing started, and she was right there in her element.” Today, Sucheta probably works longer hours than before, and she tells us that she has travelled to a different city, sometimes a different continent... every weekend for the past two years. But it doesn’t stress her out whatsoever. “Zumba is my happy drug,” she states simply.
Having just returned from a fitness convention at Indonesia, the 33-year-old also hits places in South East Asia and Oman. “But India is my baby,” she admits. Incidentally, Sucheta is the only person in the country who can grant aspiring zumba trainers in India a licence. So far she tells us, “I’ve licensed about a thousand trainers in India.” But if you thought that was big, she quickly puts things in perspective, “Germany has 18,000 trainers and the US has 75,000.” The fitness expert finishes, “So things in India are really going to boom this year.”