Leading the fitness wave

4 min read
16 Dec 2017
4 min read
1834 words
Some of the most respected fitness trainers in Nepal are women. We present here the stories of some who are spearheading the sector

In the early 90s, Nepal’s first aerobics studio, Banu’s Total Fitness Centre, was established. The start of this fitness centre signalled the beginning of a new era in fitness in the country. Exercises other than traditional bodybuilding were introduced, and the fitness industry, for the first time, saw certified women trainers. What followed over the next few years was a significant increase in the number of women members in fitness centres that had women trainers. In addition, there was also a general rise in the level of interest people showed towards living healthy lifestyles, and existing fitness centres started to feature better facilities and fitness equipment.

As the number of fitness buffs increased, so did the need for more trainers and fitness centres. In response to that demand, a number of world-class, certified female professionals, who have honed their skills over the years, emerged here. These women saw the market niche and pounced on the opportunity.

Becoming a fitness instructor, however, is not easy, and the job is not as glamorous as it seems. A fitness trainer has to lead, instruct and motivate individuals or groups on a day-to-day basis. It is not just a physically exhausting task, but also an emotionally taxing one. These trainers, apart from having to possess the right credentials, have to be at their physical best at all times; they need to have great leadership skills, know how to foster a healthy environment for their clients, be assertive, but not too dynamic, and know what’s best for their clients.

We feature here four such highly qualified women trainers in Nepal—professionals who have helped change the fitness landscape in Nepal for the better.

Shova Gurung
Master trainer, Managing Director at Next Step Fitness

Shova Gurung has dedicated almost 20 years of her life to the fitness industry. Born and brought up in Hong Kong, Gurung first entered the industry after she got married and became a mother of two. “My husband was in the Singapore Police Force, and while we were there, around the late 80s, I took a two-year course at the Federation of International Sports, Aerobics and Fitness (FISAF) to become an aerobics instructor,” says Gurung. After completing the course, Gurung went on to become an aqua instructor, a personal trainer, a fitball instructor and a master trainer at the FISAF, before she came to Nepal in 2007. Today, she is one of the owners of Next Step Fitness, perhaps one of the first fitness clubs to be established by an all-female management team.

Gurung, who was one of the first female head trainers in Nepal (at Jasmine Fitness Club, in 2009), initiated in 2012 Nepal’s very first Zumba Party. This annual mega event for Zumba enthusiasts today sees participation from over 200 people. “When we started out, there weren’t many women fitness instructors here,” says Gurung. “There weren’t many people who really understood what Zumba was. But today, Zumba has become a household term, and there are more Zumba centres than one can count. Even at Next Step Fitness, we have at least four classes every day, which means 24 classes in six days. I need at least two to three trainers every day just to run the show,” says Gurung.

Gurung is respected in the industry because she is a Master Fitness Trainer. Meaning, she doesn’t just provide personal training services, but also conducts workshops and training sessions to train younger trainers to become aerobics trainers as well as personal trainers. This month, Next Step Fitness is set to produce its seventh batch of instructors.

Preeti Rai Shrestha
Exercise physiologist, Personal trainer at the American Mission Association

“I took a basic Zumba instructor course in Hyderabad in 2011,” says Shrestha. “That’s how I entered the industry. I followed up my Zumba training with Pilates.” She then received her personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), in Arizona, USA. She then completed a continuation course on Corrective Exercise Specialists from the same organisation. During this time, she realised that she would never become the kind of personal trainer she wanted to be, just by attending training programmes and workshops. “I wanted to do more. So I joined the Sports Psychology Guided Path programme at Capella University, Minnesota. I then graduated in Exercise Physiology from the same university,” she says.

In its most basic sense, exercise physiology is a specialisation within the field of kinesiology, the science of human movement. Exercise physiologists are medical professionals who study the body’s responses to physical activity. We can break it down into two categories: clinical and non-clinical. Exercise physiologists who work in a clinical setting provide supervised exercise programmes (under the guidance of a physician) for patients suffering from chronic diseases and other medical conditions. Exercise physiologists in non-clinical settings work with healthy adults who are looking to improve their overall physical fitness. Put simply, exercise physiologists help people become their best physical selves.

After graduating from Capella University, Shrestha worked for a year and a half as a clinical exercise physiologist, before working as a trainer/non-clinical physiologist. “When I first started training as an instructor, I came across people who thought that a good workout consisted of merely sweating and performing exercises as fast as possible. Things have changed a lot since then. People are becoming more aware of the types of exercises they are doing and whether or not they are doing it correctly,” says Shrestha.
Shrestha’s fitness philosophy is simple. She believes that one should be able to enjoy the benefits of a healthy balance in life, while allowing oneself to go out and live it up sometimes. “Do what works for you, find a routine you enjoy, and pick up hobby that lifts your spirit,” says Shrestha. 

Rosy Pun
Personal trainer, Specialist in fitness nutrition, Owner of Niraamayae Fitness Studio and Academy

Rosy Pun, the owner of Niraamayae Fitness Studio and Academy, has been working in the fitness industry for the past 15 years. A certified Zumba, yoga, Pilates and fitness nutrition expert, Pun first became a certified group instructor in 2002, and has since then devoted years of her life to this sector, purely out of her passion for fitness. She received her aerobic instructor training and her personal training from FISAF, Singapore. She then went on to receive Zumba instructor training from the US and Yoga instructor training from India. She is also a specialist in fitness nutrition, with a certificate from the International Sports Science Association (ISSA), USA. She is also a certified Nirvana Fitness instructor. 

Pun’s specialty is personal training. “One size doesn’t fit all,” says Pun. “In many cases, some clients cannot or may not want group exercise, in which case they opt for classes with a personal trainer. A personal trainer’s job is to understand the medical background of clients, track their daily physical activities and their eating habits, and develop a tailored nutrition and exercise programme for them to achieve their fitness goals,” says Pun.
According to Pun, there is a huge demand for certified personal trainers in Nepal. “Starting a career as a certified personal trainer can be a little expensive, but it’s worth the investment,” says Pun. “Accept yourself and your body as they are. Eat the right food to nourish your body, and work towards becoming the best version of yourself,” says Pun. “One’s focus should always be more on holistic well-being, rather than on chasing after the ideals set by the mainstream media. The focus should always be on a healthy body and a healthy mind.” Despite her busy schedule, Pun makes time to work out four times a week, incorporating a bit of cardio (aerobics/Zumba), strength training (weights) and flexibility training (yoga/ Pilates).

Doma Bajracharya Joshi
Group fitness expert,
Owner of Core Fitness Studio Nepal

Doma Bajracharya Joshi, a certified Zumba, Spinning, HIIT and PowerPump trainer, started her career as an aerobics trainer from Banu’s Fitness Centre, back in the 90s. Joshi has over the years become a respected name in the fitness industry here. She believes that, as is the case with other industries, there can be no growth without innovation in the fitness sector too. After receiving aerobics training, she went for a Zumba instructor course in the Netherlands, where she also took up instructor courses for different exercise such as PowerPump, HIIT and Spinning. She also earned a personal trainer certificate from the National Academy of Sports and Medicine, US.

“I immensely enjoy training and working with groups. I think it has got to do with all this positive energy that is created during group training,” says Joshi. “Group classes give me the chance to interact with different people, and it’s just motivating to see my clients working out with so much enthusiasm.”

Joshi’s fitness philosophy is to train smart, train safe and train right. “In this fast-paced world, people want immediate results,” she says. “But fitness is a lifestyle. You cannot become fit by pushing your body beyond its limit one day of the week and taking it easy on the other days. It’s  a gradual process.”

Joshi is currently working on creating fitness programmes for senior citizens for the first time in Nepal. Joshi is also a certified Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) and a Weight Loss Specialist. She also holds a license for CPR and first aid.