“Focus on quality over quantity of exercises because it is not about training for hours but about training correctly”

Why must one learn in a live session and master all the big and small nuances of fitness; Namrata Purohit, Deepika Padukone’s Pilates Instructor.

Namrata Purohit with Deepika Padukone

At 16, Namrata Purohit, a highly acclaimed celebrity pilates instructor went on to claim the title of the youngest Stott Pilates instructor in the world. Stott Pilates is an internationally acclaimed musculoskeletal conditioning programme that focuses on strength and ability. 

In 2011, the now 28-year-old founded The Pilates Studio in Mumbai, the first in the world to offer pilates and simulated altitude training, which helps improve one’s endurance during intensive exercise, under one roof. 

A national and state-level football and squash player, she has also won multiple accolades such as the ELLE Beauty Award Fitness Expert of the year, 2017, and the Vogue Beauty Award Fitness Expert of the year, 2017.

Besides training actors like Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Janhvi Kapoor and Malaika Arora, she is also a certified Barre instructor. She has also authored a book, The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Being Fit, which talks about gradual transition from a sedentary lifestyle to an active lifestyle. 

Her unique music pilates workout, which syncs exercise with music, is what makes her routine unique.

PathBreakerZ speaks to Namrata Purohit about her successful run in the fitness industry, the challenges she faced in her career and her advice for aspiring fitness instructors. 

When did you decide to become a Pilates instructor?

I have always loved working with the mind and body. At 15, I fell off a horse and had to undergo a knee surgery. After which, I was advised to take it easy. The doctor said that I may not be able to play sports or dance again; activities that I loved the most. I was upset but was determined to fix myself. That’s how my fitness journey began.

My father, Samir Purohit, also a fitness expert, introduced me to pilates. He invited a Canadian instructor to visit India to train me. In just four days, my pain subsided. That’s when I decided that I wanted others to experience the benefits of pilates and became an instructor to help others. 

Interesting, so how did you learn the required skills? 

I learnt the basics from the same instructor and then enrolled for advanced courses. Upskilling is a never-ending process because newer tools, equipment and concepts are introduced all the time. Even as an instructor, I am learning so much. In fact, being a trainer is all about reworking, relearning and never assuming that you know everything. 

What challenges did you face while learning pilates? 

I began my training as a pilates instructor when I was 15. As I was the youngest in class, I did not possess the knowledge and experience that others, mostly certified instructors, did. But eventually, I worked hard and managed to keep up with them.

How was your experience training your very first client?

It was funny. At 16, I was training someone who was 20 years older than me. He looked at me as if he wasn’t sure of what I was doing. At that time, those who were being trained under me used to ask my father, “Are you sure I should do a class with her?” and he would say, “Yes, try it out and see how you feel.” I was really nervous during my first class, but I had to put it all together, which I did and it went off well. Those people are still my clients. So, I think I did something right.  

What was the turning point of your career?

It was when I opened a pilates studio in 2011. It was great to see people being curious about it and keen to try it out. 

What are the important fitness techniques you have learnt over the years?

I think the most important technique is to focus on the form. Also, concentrate on quality over quantity of exercises because it is not about training for hours but about training correctly. Especially, in pilates, there are some basic principles that we follow — breathing patterns, core engagement and correct alignment of the spine and the entire body. All my workouts are customised. I design different workouts for all my clients. No two sessions are the same as their body type, goals and timelines are different. 

What is your favourite pilates workout? 

I love working out on a reformer, which is a bed-like frame with an adjustable platform that has side rails, and on a cadillac, a piece of equipment that has many attachments. On the cadillac, I am like a monkey, I like being upside down. 

Who is your mentor? 

My father is my mentor. I am very fortunate as he has been in the fitness industry for a very long time. Initially, I used to ask him several questions, but today, I can have a discussion with him as a professional. 

What are the pros and cons of being a celebrity fitness trainer?  

The good part is that all celebrities know their timelines. Most of them are extremely dedicated and focused. They don’t miss workouts and are punctual. The only challenging part is that their bodies must be changed as per their roles in different movies. I may have to help an actor gain weight, and then help the same person lose weight a month later. 

But it’s important that everything is done naturally and my client is healthy and fit.

How important is it to have a strong social media presence?

While social media is a great way to reach out to many, I hope we don’t lose the personal touch. I think we need to strike the right balance. 

Social media is very demanding and challenging. Due to time constraints, sometimes I can’t post videos daily. I usually take eight to 10 classes a day, which means putting in that many hours. Then I have to run errands in my studio and chalk out programmes for my next classes. Due to which, at times, my social media page takes a backseat. 

However, it is a great medium if used correctly.

Which mode of learning do you prefer, online or face-to-face? 

Face-to-face training is definitely better as there is a lot you can learn by observing. But, at the same time, there are a lot of online courses that are extremely effective. But I believe that one needs to get sufficient face-to-face training first to understand the basics, the foundation, the anatomy of the body, and then you can opt for online courses. 

What does an aspiring pilates instructor need to do? What advice would you give them?

You can start with the basic course, which is for a duration of one to one-and-a-half month. This must be followed by a year of self study. You must also pass an exam and log a number of hours of teaching,  attend several advanced and specialised workshops and never stop learning. Stick to the basics and build your foundation. Pilates is a mind and body form of exercise and is extremely effective, if used correctly. Moreover, don’t be in a hurry to reach somewhere. Take your time.

What equipment does an aspiring pilates instructor require?

A basic mat and a few props such as a stability ball or flex band to begin with. A few years later, invest in other products, or work at a studio that is equipped with reformers and cadillac, among others.

Nisha Shroff
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