It’s not always easy to suddenly turn your life around and start focusing on fitness and weight loss. Many middle-aged men and women find it to be a Herculean task to reschedule their daily lives and dedicate time to fitness. And yet, there are some who succeed with flying colours, not just in losing weight but inspiring others to follow suit.
At the age of 25, Hyderabad-based Uttara Sharma decided to leave her job as a confectioner and dedicate her life towards fitness. “At that time I had gained too much weight and I wasn’t happy with my body and how it looked. I would go into depression from time to time. Then one day, I decided to start doing yoga by myself. Within eight months, I lost 30 kgs,” says Sharma.
Seventeen years later Sharma is a renowned fitness trainer in the Telangana capital who specialises in power yoga, pilates and functional training. The 42-year-old has coached over 10,000 people in a course of 12 years and runs a studio called Uttara’s Power Yoga at Diamond Point in Secunderabad. “I never thought I would start teaching fitness classes. When my neighbours saw that I lost a significant amount of weight by practising yoga all by myself, they approached me and asked if they could join me. I was really thrilled to help other girls lose weight. There has been no looking back since then,” says Sharma.
At her power yoga studio, people just don’t practise mundane yoga asanas but also indulge in a combination of activities such as boxing, pilates, weights and meditation. “I like to encourage people to have fun while exercising. The studio is much more than just a fitness centre. Here, we also advise students on their diet, on how to boost their confidence and enhance their personality,” says she.
Sharma, who is also a certified dietician, emphasises on weight loss and feels that one’s diet has a major role to play in their journey to fitness. “I feel weight loss is about 90 per cent diet and 10 per cent exercise. Unfortunately, many of the youngsters do not follow my advice on the importance of a proper diet. They would realise the importance of following a balanced diet only when they fully dedicate themselves to fitness,” says the trainer. However, Sharma believes that the younger generation is showing a great interest towards power yoga and fitness in general. “In an attempt to attract youngsters, we started the concept of power yoga, which is essentially just regular yoga but at a faster pace. Today, I am proud to say that 85 per cent of my students are below 30 years of age,” says Sharma.
The most frequent excuse people give for refusing to exercise is that they cannot take out enough time for it. But Sharma feels that without fitness one cannot experience life to the fullest. “If you are not fit, you are merely dragging your body around and not living life fully. After losing weight I know the difference it can make to one’s life. Even if people are busy, as long as they can take out at least 20 minutes from their schedule to exercise, it would help them immensely,” says the trainer.
Though Sharma had earlier expanded her business and opened up five different studios across Hyderabad, she decided to shut them down and focus only on one. “I am completely against expansion because when you do so, the quality suffers. I had opened five studios and since I cannot be present everywhere at one time, the quality of the units suffered. I decided to shut down all the other centres and just focus on one of them,” she says.
The studio recently introduced a system where they provide a certificate to fitness enthusiasts which will enable them to train others. The initiative, called the ‘Training the Trainers’, has drawn a lot more fitness freaks and aspiring trainers to the studio. “We want to train the best yoga teachers over here who in turn can inspire others to take this up. Together, we can promote healthy living,” says Sharma.