Her soft voice drops to a whisper. “The erstwhile army officer was recovering from a lumbar injury when I met her at my nutrition class in Mhow; we worked on her fitness with a series of therapeutic exercises and, after a few months, she could dance freely. She sent me a beautiful note after her second child was born recently. She thanked me for helping her rediscover her self-esteem,” she says.
Manisha Duggal pauses to let the goosebumps play out, sips some water and collects herself before she resumes speaking. “It was the best gift a wellness coach could have ever got,” she says. “It is such child-like belief in me as a coach that makes me believe that the sacrifices made by my family are well worth it. It is their passion that fuels my own relationship with fitness and wellness.”
The spirit of selfless service and unconditional sacrifice which resonates deeply in Manisha is the result of a lifetime in army families. Her own return to fitness after the birth of her second child in 2006 has inspired her to draw from her own tale and help others in their personal wellness journeys, even if it meant she had to challenge the status quo and move to Gurugram.
Having to remain content with weekends with family in a different town, Manisha immerses herself in training white-collar workers. “There is so much joy in being comfortable in one’s own skin. As corporates spend time in rebuilding themselves, they not only get fitter but also get more confident at work,” she says.
She believes that at the start of their fitness journeys, most people lack stamina, strength, flexibility and muscular endurance. Besides, from an emotional point of view, they lack self-belief, low self-esteem, inadequate commitment and lack of motivation on the emotional front. All these factors combine to make people impatient and expect great outcomes in quick time.
“You didn’t become obese overnight. Then, why do you expect to regain fitness in next to no time?” Manisha says, advocating persistence, hard work and commitment. She says that when people surrender and connect with themselves, they could lose kilos and their trainers would gain happiness. “You need to have faith in yourself that you can achieve your fitness goals.”
No shortcuts please
Manisha warns her clients against taking short-cuts in their bid to secure overnight results. “A lot of people start working on their fitness to be able to show others how good they can look. And, in the process, they resort to consuming a lot of products that may not be the best in the long run,” she says. “Nothing good comes overnight.”
Buddy workouts for team-building
For her corporate clients who step into her class, she structures exercise routines based on their body types and adds a fun element. “They have been at work and I do not want to make exercise sound like more work. So, I create ‘play stations’ for them on the exercise floor. And then I empower them to gift themselves a lifetime association with fitness,” she says.
Manisha has seen the benefits of buddy workouts that she conducts for corporates. “I have seen people from different departments come together and develop greater sense of responsibility and caring even for others who they do not know,” she says. “This is the result of buddy workouts where they are helping one another. The exercise floor can spark great team-building.”
Seek right trainer more than fancy tools
The Gurugram-based corporate fitness trainer believes that it is not right to believe that using fancy fitness tools will deliver results. “Of course, I use tools like functional training, calisthenics, aerobics and step dancing but that is mainly to help bring my clients into the moment, away from the work environment that they have just walked in from,” she says.
“But if they believe that exercise can make a difference to their day-to-day lives, enhance their productivity and that they can be passionately active at work because of it, they will realise that is it not the equipment that matters but the trainer, especially if he or she is cueing in well with them,” Manisha says, stating her own philosophy. “I don’t accessorise them but help them rebuild themselves.”
Someday in the not-too-distant future, it is possible that she will look back at her own fitness training career, punctuated by the sacrifices that she and her family have made, with a contented smile. One that stems from the knowledge that she would have helped not a few corporate sorts feel like celebrities.