This article is part of our series ‘The Reinvention’ about women who adapted to the ‘new normal’ during the COVID lockdown and took a new direction in their career during this challenging period.
By Shweta Bhandral
At 45, Shalini Bhargava is a powerhouse of energy. For 21 years, this fitness trainer, nutrition expert and entrepreneur has been running JG’s fitness centre in Santacruz, Mumbai. In the past few years, they expanded from a group exercise centre to a state-of-the-art gym, Pilates facility, and a rehabilitation centre.
Her workplace went quiet and empty with the lockdown; the booming fitness industry is one of the worst hit. Shalini, whose husband is a doctor, understood that the COVID situation would not end any time soon.
The mother of two – her 25-year-old son is a celebrity nutritionist and 22-year-old daughter is a law student – immediately decided to take JG’s online. After a lot of hits and misses for two weeks, JG’s team was finally ready with their online plan.
Leading by example, Shalini was the first of her trainers to start classes. She explains, “Using the Zoom app and Instagram live feature, I go live at a set time every day for about 40 minutes. Any individual of any age group can follow the class from home.”
Thousands of fitness videos are available on the internet for free, but having a live trainer-led session has its own benefits. Shalini had to make sure that she did not lose the personal touch with her clients even if she was online.
JG’s livestream fitness sessions, which are pre-booked, take in only a limited number of participants. In these sessions, Shalini personally watches over and corrects postures.
JG’s also share pre-recorded online classes with instructions for members to perform their routine at home with no equipment. These tutorials encompass a wide range of physical training like strength-training workouts, mat Pilates, cardio Pilates, masala bhangra, bootcamp workouts and yoga.
Shalini says, “Our sessions will not only get you sweating thus boosting your fitness level but will also enhance your mental health during these stressful times.”
All these efforts have not only helped JG’s fitness centre maintain its clientele but has also helped the brand create a robust name for itself on the digital platform. Approximately 60 people join in each session every day, many from outside Mumbai.
As the city is in an unlock phase, Shalini is hopeful that she will be able to open doors of her centre by mid-August. “It will not be easy,” she admits.
“To follow physical distancing, there will be advance booking of the sessions, and we won’t take in more than 10 people in a session. Sanitisation norms such as temperature checking will become part of our operations. This is the new normal.”
First published in eShe’s August 2020 issue
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