Women Who Redefine Fitness In India

Written by

Puneet Gupta

Thankfully, with a focus on self-care over the recent years, being healthy has moved away from the societal-set definition of fitness to a more holistic approach of understanding and respecting one’s body and finding activities that fit one’s lifestyle the best.

What Does Fitness Mean For Women?

Over the years fitness for women has been associated with the common connotation of being thin and conventionally beautiful. Thankfully, with a focus on self-care over the recent years, being healthy has moved away from the societal-set definition of fitness to a more holistic approach of understanding and respecting one’s body and finding activities that fit one’s lifestyle the best.

Hitting the gym was always the go-to approach to ‘get fit’, and yes, even though a gym does contribute in its own way towards getting fit, it has also become a bit monotonous and boring. Adding a variety of fitness routines is becoming increasingly crucial in order for us all to stay motivated and on track, so it was incredible to come across these inspiring young women who are doing their part to reshape and redefine fitness to build a community of women to come together and live an active life.

These women are driven by their passion to live a healthy life and have started platforms that focus on community building at large. Let’s learn more about them and their journey.

Aneesha Labroo, Founder, Kica Women’s Football League

30 year old Aneesha Labroo has always been an athletic person, involved in sports and activities since childhood. Aneesha’s interest in sports did not stem from the idea of staying fit but out of the pure love for it. After moving to New York some 5-6 years ago, and learning how to balance her work and personal life she was forced to rethink what health and fitness really meant. Moving back to New Delhi in 2016 added to her urge to learn more about healthy living and to ensure that she incorporated that into her own lifestyle.

Kica is a result of Aneesha’s keen interest in becoming an entrepreneur and her passion for health and fitness and understanding that space in depth. She found a gap in the market for affordable and high-quality activewear brands and so Kica was born in 2017. Her vision was clear from the beginning – it would cater to women of all shapes and sizes and encourage movement in whatever capacity possible.

Aneesha’s mission to build a community of women who encourage each other to live an active life motivated her to be consistent in curating regular events that promote physical activity amongst women. The idea behind Kica Women’s Football League came from a series of collaborations with various trainers and fitness studios in New Delhi. Aneesha’s personal interest in playing football steered her to get her friends to join through a WhatsApp group which organically grew to 150 women in no time! The overwhelming response gave her the confidence to organise a football event which was a huge success because of the sheer energy and joy it carried amongst the women. It was at this moment that Aneesha knew she had to start a football league for them!

The first edition of the league was a huge success with 6 teams sponsored by 6 different established brands. The 2nd edition has been scheduled for early 2022 and preparations are in full swing. There are also plans for a badminton league. Aneesha has played a massive role in achieving the league’s goal for women to meet new people and have a platform to play and enjoy themselves which has inspired and motivated many. The future of Kica and Kica Women’s Football League still centre around the mission of giving women more opportunities to live actively.

Sonam Taneja, Co-Founder, Hudle

34 year old Sonam Taneja whose career started as a tax lawyer in a tier-I law firm – an intellectually stimulating environment with inspiring mentors and friends! However, something seemed amiss and she wanted to pursue what felt closer to heart – from fitness to food policies and now sport and entrepreneurship!

Both Sonam and her partner Suhail Narain believe that playing a sport is the most fun, engaging and social way of keeping fit. They knew that for the sports ecosystem to thrive, sports needed to be made more accessible, so they decided to solve the biggest pain points for a recreational sports person – where to play, whom to play with and how to play. This idea resulted in launching Hudle in 2016, a digital platform for sports enthusiasts to find their sport of choice and book a curated list of sports events and sports venues.

Hudle picked up immediately and has received a positive response since its launch. The team has been able to raise two rounds of funding and had three sporting stalwarts join their team – Joy Bhattacharjya, Ajinkya Rahane and Pullela Gopichand! Since launch, the team and the list of partner venues have grown at a tremendous rate. Sonam’s future plans for Hudle are to grow deeper and wider, both in terms of geography and their sport offerings to enable more people to learn a sport. Her personal passion project has been thriving through the help of Hudle; which is to organise football coaching catered to adult women in NCR!

Swetha Subbiah, Co-Founder, Sisters In Sweat

36 year old Swetha Subbiah has made a name for herself in the health and fitness industry in a speedy and successful manner. Her career started as a consultant in the corporate world after getting a degree in economics. However, her keen interest in sports always had her one foot out the door looking for opportunities in the world of sport in any capacity; and when one came along to set up a health club she quit her job immediately. Her passion for health and to redefine the fitness industry motivated her to become a certified instructor, start her own fitness consulting company and train both individuals and companies on their wellness programmes.

Swetha’s collaboration with Nike introduced her to yet another passionate sport personality,

Tanvie Hans and they became friends instantly. Their regular football sessions in Bangalore which were started on WhatsApp grew fast. They coined the title Sisters in Sweat for the group and invited women to get together to play football.

Today, Sisters in Sweat has over 2000 women of all ages from students to grandmothers who have been the driving force behind this growing community. It’s highly inspiring to see these cross generational barriers broken on the field when they are together. The platform’s offerings have also diversified from football to box cricket, basketball, cycle rides and much more. They have also been flexible with exploring formats both physical and virtual and are planning to expand to other cities from early January 2022.

Vrinda Bhagaria, Co-Founder, BoulderBox, Delhi

32-year-old Vrinda Bhagaria’s career jump from design to starting a climbing centre was gradual but an obvious decision for her. While she did enjoy working as a graphic designer, she missed the joy that climbing brought her. Her dislike of the sedentary aspect of a design job motivated her to pursue her passion as a career. Having climbed in India for 7 years by then and being part of the climbing community in Delhi, the need for a space for climbers to train was obvious. This guided her decision to start India’s first premier climbing centre in New Delhi – BoulderBox with her cousin Yadu Bhageria as the co-founder.

The offerings at BoulderBox cater to both men and women equally. However, in order to encourage women to experience a sport like climbing that may come with certain preconceived notions, the space has women-specific sessions at discounted pricing guided by female coaches. Apart from that, they also have aerial silks and aerial hoop that attract mostly women and are taught by an extremely experienced aerialist.

Vrinda’s future plan for the centre is to add more classes and create a hub for movement based activities.

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