The importance of body movement in our technological lives | Shwetambari Shetty | TBCY
Welcome to another episode of The Brand Called You. A vodcast and podcast show that brings you leadership lessons, knowledge, experience and wisdom from hundreds of successful individuals from around the world. I am your host Ashutosh Garg and today I am delighted to welcome a fitness guru from India, Shwetambari Shetty. Shwetambari, welcome to the show. Thank you so much Ashutosh, it's an absolute pleasure. Honestly, I feel privileged to be on your show. Thank you. I'm looking forward. Shweta is a fitness expert at Cult.Fit. She was the Co-Founder of Tribe Fitness Club and as a lot of you know I'm very partial to authors.
So she's an author and we'll talk a little bit about her book as well. So Shweta, let's talk about fitness and before we get into all any more details, tell me what is the meaning of fitness. I mean, it can be made extremely complex sometimes but to me and what I really talk about even to the people that I connect with is fitness is just general preparedness for life. It's about aging gracefully and when you have to prepare yourself for the life ahead of you which is so unknown physically, mentally, emotionally, every way it's so unknown. You just have to be strong and fitness gives you not just physical strength but it also gives you some amount of mental and emotional strength and this is my personal experience. And then secondly, of course, who doesn't want to age gracefully? None of us really want to have any niggles or injuries or health issues after the age of like say, 70 and etc. Typically, when you don't take good
care of yourself, these lifestyle issues, lifestyle diseases or something or the other keeps coming up. I mean, I've seen my parents go through it as well despite being extremely active. So for me, I have understood especially over the years that it is really just being prepared for life, being strong and just aging gracefully. Wonderful and let's talk a little bit about Cult.Fit and then we'll get into more details.
But for a lot of our viewers and listeners who are probably aware of Cult.Fit because we saw some amazing advertising, a few years ago. What is the scope of work that you handle there? Ashutosh, when we started Cult.Fit which is back in 2016, actually late 16. We had like one or two centers and today, we are 200 plus centers across multiple cities and though me and another colleague, the two of us were completely responsible for the entire fitness, managing the entire fitness portfolio for Cult and that's how Cult started. It started just with fitness. I mean, it was earlier Cure.Fit and then came the Eat.Fit
and Mind.Fit and everything else. So from two centers, of course, we were not responsible to physically expand the number of cult centers or buildings. But right from hiring, we have like over 2000 trainers right now, hiring to creating every single module of the classes and the exercises that get conducted at Cult and like training the entire team, getting accreditation for these courses which we have built in-house, all of that was our responsibility. So we were going to places like Shillong
to hire, to run camps, hiring camps because we did realize that people there are strong, they have an affinity to fitness and they want to make this a career. So Guwahati, Shillong like so many different places. So hiring was our core and we wanted to hire passionate people and not just people from other gyms or people who are already trainers, of course, they were also welcome but we realized that I built this profession on passion, my colleague also built that on passion. So we said, we will just get a lot of passionate people together for this project and that's when it will really become a strong powerful project.
That's exactly what happened, so we went across the country, we hired, we trained. We even did language teaching because a lot of our trainers came, especially the boxing fraternity, they don't speak great english and we also did a lot of language coaching, communication and today, all of these trainers are so strong, so confident, very independent. So our core role is really managing the entire fitness portfolio and, of course, after fitness now we have multiple other things at cult but that's where it all started and I feel very proud that I've been there from the beginning and we'd literally built that whole place from scratch.
Fabulous and before you came into Cult, you had your own venture called Tribe Fitness Club, tell me two separate questions. But, what is Tribe Fitness? So, it's my first baby, if I have to and it was very emotional when I had to let go but honestly, I never really had any idea of building something like Tribe Fitness and the name itself was like, we called it Tribe because we wanted to create a very strong community. A tribe of people who love fitness, who love focusing on their health, who love doing things outdoor, who like just exercising together which is why we call tribe. But it was a fitness center which focused on making fitness fun. So we know that it is very niche,
fitness itself is quite niche and it's a luxury. Like only in the last few years, we see a lot of people taking to fitness quite seriously. Otherwise, people join the gym, drop off and we saw that was a trend. Nobody really committed to becoming healthy and fit. So we said, what if we make it fun, will people then stick, will people keep coming back? That's exactly what happened. Everybody who joined our club from year one to year three until
the acquisition happen, they stuck with us. We didn't have to remind them of the membership with the renewal. We didn't have to do anything, it was word of mouth. It picked up like magic because everybody loved the group, exercise, workouts, so we were no equipment, no machines. So tribe was just group exercise, so you had strength training, you had cardio training, you had yoga, you had dance, you had cycling, all of that but zero machines. So we
said, you don't need machines to be fit, you can just ensure you just bring yourself into the center, you have a trainer that teaches you everything and you have a great number of people around you who will motivate you and push you to get to your goal and that was it. It was a strong community and I think that community through word of mouth became very successful which ultimately, of course, resulted in people looking to acquire us and things. You just mentioned it was an emotional moment but how how did you feel when you actually sold and became a part of a much larger organization? Truth be told, I have never been wanting to be a part of anything mass. When I had started my career as a fitness trainer, I used to do different-different classes through the day and I was very happy doing it, jumping from one locality in Bangalore to another.
Teaching a group of 30-40 people and being extremely satisfied by the end of the class I said this is what I want to do, change people's lives but then when Tribe happened, then it was like a step up. I was like, okay now we're going slightly mass. We're going to get hundreds of people into the color, so then, of course, there was focus on getting a loan and this and that all that happened. But ultimately, when you feel like, okay this is it, I have three centers now and let me just work with this for many years to come, comes an opportunity and then you're like what do I do with this opportunity. It's so tempting but at the same time deep inside I'm saying no, you know what, this is my blood and sweat and everything. So I don't want to and I have never done this for money. So now the acquisition is, of course, making the business bigger, larger. There is a lot of money involved, it was all exciting. It
took me a long time to decide that I can do this. Ultimately, I made up my mind because I realized, if today I could target hundreds of people and change the lives of hundreds of people with Cult, I will be able to reach out to millions of people because that was the goal and then I sat down and said to myself, this is what I want to do, change people's lives and that's why I changed my career from being a banker to a fitness trainer. So why am I holding myself back? So, I just like let's do this. It's okay if we go mass and that's what our country needs, to get fitter. So I'll do my bit. Fabulous. So, most people are now becoming quite conscious of fitness and on a lighter note, I've often said when I was much younger I also could afford to buy a treadmill and I had one at home and my children have it in their homes and I joke with a lot of people saying the treadmill at home is probably the most expensive towel drying rack that you can find because that's what it ultimately ends up being used for because nobody exercises.
But tell me as a fitness expert or a fitness guru, how do I determine what is my right fitness regime? A great question because I think today, I'll tell you we're in a space where through social media a lot of our fitness trainers and coaches and influencers speak about a lot of things fitness. Sometimes there's some contradiction. Sometimes there's too much information and the user ultimately gets confused, what is the right thing for me? Honestly, I have really learned about fitness and well-being and help from my parents before anyone else. Of course, I've got the bookish knowledge but I've understood that for any human being to be fit and healthy movement is essential.
What we've done to ourselves in the last decade or two or probably, even more, is we've removed that important element of movement from our daily lives because we sit like this in front of laptop for long hours because all of us have that typical job of sitting in front of a desktop or laptop or anything of phone etc. So my advice to everybody who's listening is do not make fitness and healthy living complex. Of course, I run gyms, I run fitness clubs, so I would always promote that and tell people to come into the gyms but I will never ever tell people to force people to go into the gym. So I will always start by saying walk more often. If you can incorporate walking often and when I say walking often is get up and move every hour or two. Move for five minutes, move for 10 minutes because your body is designed to move.
If it was designed to be sitting on a chair, you wouldn't have an ankle joint, you wouldn't have a knee joint because it is useless. But we're made this way because we're supposed to be moving more often. So the whole concept of this 10,000 steps, 12,000 steps, this is a recent phenomenon and the reason why it has come about is, it's basically telling people that you really need to get to that many steps. My father, by 8:30 in the morning has already done 12,000 steps because he wakes up at like 4:35 in the morning, goes for his long walks and that's how he's been able to curb or rather even control his diabetes and lots of other issues. So, do not make fitness complex, start with the basics that your body is capable of doing. You don't need to really spend a lot of money on expensive gyms or trainers. All of that is important at a later point but start with walking more often, do what your body is naturally capable of doing a step above or step after moving often is do a nice cardio workout for 30 minutes every alternate day or every day. Pick up some strength training, it could
be body weight or weight training because strength training just helps with your bone density, bone mass and muscle mass and these are the two things you want to focus on when you're aging. As you age, your muscle mass and your bone mass deteriorates. So to maintain at a good level and to avoid injuries, then you actually end up doing some strength training and your cardio and etc to keep your heart healthy, to keep your respiratory healthy and to overall also ensure that every six months that blood test that you do, all your markers, health markers are normal, are green and not like abnormal, above range, below range. All of these are the reason why you should exercise. So keep it simple, don't make it complex, start with walking more often. Wonderful, what a fabulous answer and a follow-on
question from that is, there is so much of data overload on nutrition along with exercise. How does the common individual determine, do I need to take supplements, what kind of supplements, do I need vitamins, do I need pills, what are your thoughts? I know this overload of every information right now, thanks to quick searches available which is very true Ashutosh. I think, we've confused our food as well heavily. Again, I'll go back to being extremely simple what I've learned. I've gone through a journey of weight loss after postpartum. I've gone through the journey of being extremely strong being able to do really heavy-heavy lifting. I've not drastically changed what I eat, I've not modernized what I eat. I've kind of stuck to culturally what I've grown up eating, of course, I eat other cuisines, of course, I like oatmeal which is not a part of my cuisine but my go-to is always what I have grown up eating culturally. I'm from the South of India and from Mangalore and I eat a lot of idli,
dosa,coconut chutney, boiled rice which is grown in our fields, so high-quality. Get some protein dals and vegetables and fish from coast. So, a lot of fish happens and it's worked wonderful for me from a strength perspective from being healthy from keeping all my macros and micros and minerals and vitamins in check. So I would say focus on eating seasonal, focus on eating what you've eaten culturally because your body kind of has gotten used to that. You can make changes, of course, like I spoke about the oatmeal or I'm talking about a salad but do you need such a drastic change to achieve any fitness goal? Honestly, in my opinion, no. What you need to change even with your own food that you've
grown up eating is try to reduce the salt, try to reduce the oil or probably minimize it to zero. It's possible like I've experimented food with literally zero oil and it's possible but you can take a little bit, it's no big deal. But if you can make that like for example, in the North of India, if a lot of people eat aloo paratha, there's no problem with aloo as such, it's good for you. Potato is good for you, the problem is the way it's made. The amount of excess oil or butter and everything that goes into it. So, eat what you are culturally
used to, what you've grown up eating. Just look at the quantity and look at all the oil and factors that go in, the sugar factors, reduce all of that and you're in good place. The only other problem I think, we in India face is that we are slightly a carb-dense country but the interesting thing to know is that Japan actually eats more carbs than India but we've all seen Japanese like how they are, they're also very active, they walk a lot but their food is also low on salt or zero salt. It's a lot of steamed and stuff like
that and a lot of vegetables and a lot of fish and raw food and etc which our food isn't. India food is carb-dense but again, we heavily cook it, we heavily masala fire it and all of that. So food tip for everybody is focus on what you've grown-up eating, look at that. Culturally, seasonally look at all of that food and ensure that on a plate your rice doesn't get overpowered. Your rice is the smallest one and everything else should overpower the rice, your dal, your veggies, your salad that is the mantra, that's what I have followed.
If you look at my plate, my rice is fistful and my vegetables and my dals are like literally two bowls and that not only keeps you full, it helps you with goals like weight loss, it helps you with goals strength, it keeps your gut very healthy, it does the magic. So, nothing very very different, stick to culture season and look at your plate and ensure you have your carbs, fat, and protein and we've got enough options of that and just ensure you remove the sugars, fried and the junk and everything is fine, don't make it complex. Also, quickly just touching up on the supplements, we all need supplements only if we don't eat a variety of food which means, if you don't eat enough vegetables and enough fruits which is a lot of variety then you'll find the need to supplement because your minerals and vitamins and the body is deteriorating. But if you get everything in the form of food and over the week if you're eating different colors, then you may not even need those supplements but before you take supplements, consult a qualified nutritionist or your doctor. Well said. So one more question relating to fitness before I move to your book. How important is yoga as a part of our daily fitness regime? Well, I think, its something that you can incorporate every single day with another exercise or without any other exercise.
I remember doing yoga at the age of six with my father because he would finish his morning jog, go up to the terrace and do his yoga for like 20-30 minutes and I would join him for that. So, it's not a discipline that I have given myself lessons in but we have it at Cult. I have done a lot of sessions myself and I believe it does a tremendous amount of good for you. So, it focuses on strength, of course, it focuses on flexibility and mobility. Now, we spoke about strength and cardio a lot over the last few minutes but not touched upon flexibility and mobility. Now, your body is naturally extremely flexible and has the mobility it needs. Like your ankle joint, knee joint, hip joint, shoulder joint, it has all the mobility and even right from the time, you see your toddlers and etc. The way they sit in a deep squat,
all of this as we grow, we lose it. Why? Because we don't get that mobility and flexibility in the body is not maintained. Honestly, if you maintain it, you will be able to do it even at 75 because if you go to rural India, you will still see very elderly women of 80 and 85 sitting in a deep squat as a position of rest. Right now, we don't do that because of lack of activity.
Now, yoga building in every day or every alternate day into your schedule can not only give you strength and a great workout but it can keep your flexibility which is the muscle length. Flexibility going and can keep mobility of the joints also going strong for a long time. What does this ultimately mean for you? It means, you will be free of injuries for a long time because the moment you deteriorate the joints ability to move and the muscles ability to flex, you are restricting the body from doing what it naturally can do, which is why you end up hurting yourself. So, incorporating yoga can keep you very safe from injuries for a long time, especially if you're otherwise doing a lot of lifting and cardio and stuff, yoga can be great to complement it on a daily basis. It can also be another like, it's a workout that a lot of people I know, also incorporate in the evenings just before dinner. So, they do their dinner and then get to bed, like wait for about an hour or something and get to bed. But what
they tell me is that yoga helps them just calm and become calm and actually gets them some good sleep. So there are multiple reasons why one should incorporate yoga, strength, flexibility, mobility, a great workout, a great stretch fabulous for recovery after a heavy lifting day, yoga is for everyone. Fantastic, so now I have time only to ask you about your book and I would love to talk about get moving. I mean, tell me about this book, what got you to write it? Honestly, I never would have thought I could write, I still don't think and I'm not a writer. This is me being very honest with you. Fitness is something that I'm passionate about, getting people to move is what I'm passionate about, making people healthy is what I love. So when penguin approached me and said, we want you to write a book for us about fitness. I know there are a lot of other books on fitness, a lot of good books
out there that people can read. I just told them look, there's only one thing that I would be able to write from my heart and that would be about movement because it's something that I have learned from my parents, from my ancestors, from my family because I belong to a village called Kundapur which is further down Mangalore and we are people who have farmlands and we have like these not so dense forests and managing and taking care of all the trees and the plantations, so we come from that kind of background. So movement and certain things that we do on a daily basis comes naturally to us and that's what has helped us be very very strong and fit for a long time. Like for example, my grandmother is 96 and she walks and she sees clearly and everything.
My grandfather cycles even at 85, independent. So all of this I've noticed has been possible because they have moved very often all their life and eaten simple foods. So I told penguin that if I have to write something I'm not going to make it complex. I
need to just write about very very simple stuff so that anyone who's never even read about fitness or even gone to a gym, picks up this book for whatever reason and reads it, they will be able to understand how simple healthy living and fitness can be and they were completely on board with the idea. So, I said yes and which is why Ashutosh, we named the book, Get Moving because that's like my core philosophy. Like, keep moving, walk more often and then honestly, my one-year-old daughter lives up to it completely but that was the only reason I said okay because penguin said, we want you to write what you feel honestly from your heart and also a little bit about your journey. Because your journey does inspire women, especially around our country, especially coming from a middle-class family, it's been very tough but you go past the tough.
So, I happily did it and it's a very simple book. If you read it, you'll be like I think you'll finish it in one hour. But then it's available on Amazon for people who are viewing and listening to us in case, they want to buy it. Yes, it is. It's a simple book, basics of what you can do at home. Wonderful. Shweta, thank you so much. It's been such a pleasure speaking to you. Thank you for this incredible
amount of knowledge you have given me and I'm sure to all our viewers and listeners on fitness and nutrition. I mean, I've learned so many new things and I thought I was reasonably fit at 64 but I've got many more things to do now that I've spoken to you. Thank you again and good luck. Thank you so much for having me over, an absolute pleasure. Thank you. Thank You for listening to The Brand Called You, videocast and podcast. A platform that brings you knowledge, experience and wisdom of hundreds of successful individuals from around the world. Do visit our website www.tbcy.com to watch and listen to the stories of many more individuals. You
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