A JOURNEY OF A DECADE
It happened by chance late one winter evening. As I walked past the departmental store in my neighbourhood, my gaze shifted to the blue signage that announced the opening of a women’s only gym. Little did I know that this place would become my refuge for the next decade!
A decade is a long time and over this duration of 10 years I have collected a fair share of heartfelt stories, hilarious episodes, funny anecdotes along with those toned muscles and core strength that Contours enables you to build.
But along with fitness, my most powerful takeaway has been the people I have met at Contours and the memories I have shared with them.
I can safely call half a dozen of them my closest friends today, individuals who are part of my life outside the gym and are marked favorite on my phonebook list. Who knew a cursory smile and simple question to the person next to you while working the spin cycle, would mean the start of a roller coaster friendship. And this even though they are 25 years older to you.
It is amazing the footprint that Contours today has across India, but this story started in a not-so-large space on the 2nd floor of a non-descript building with a hand full of determined women led by Chandra. I remember each one of you: Shubhada, Esther, Shobha and of course Susan. Your hard work, commitment and zeal laid the foundation and created a benchmark for every trainer who followed you. It amazed me the amount of patience you had in order to listen to every woman’s personal story of aches, pains and expectations of themselves.
All of you were great at your job, and my primary source of inspiration to work hard on the gym floor. From comparing the size of our arms, complaining about that one little part of our bodies we would like to magically change, to sharing best online deals on gym-wear or the most efficient shape-wear to buy when sporting that little-black-dress to the moment when a bat came flying into the gym, or when we thought the building was on fire and had to escape with whatever we could find, the gym has been a place of happiness, giggles and companionship.
I have to confess that like every skeptic fitness rookie, I signed up for 3 months, not really knowing whether this place is going to work for me and although I have been a member consistently, I also have to confess that I have been unfaithful and stepped into other fitness centers. But the comfort that I find when I walk into Contours has never been replicated at any other facility and this has made me a fitness junkie who seems to be a member at Contours for longer than some of the furniture within its confines.
The timing of Contours in my life came when I was just 24 years; at a time when I never thought about fitness as a necessity, only to realize after a week at the gym, how unfit I was. After the initial 10 kilos that I lost, there was an understanding of patterns and habits that were inhibiting me; there was a significant change in my posture, my attitude and of course the all too important ‘diet’. The rest of the journey has been about challenging myself and making fitness part of my everyday life. With the quarterly change in regime, group workouts, Zumba, yoga, annual marathons and even boot camps, the variability has always been there and made me come to the gym, even when motivation levels are low.
Contours can also be called my sanctuary. A place that I know I can go to at the end of a bad day, where I can leave every stress, worry and difficulties at the doorstep and walk in for an hour of stress free physical activity, that naturally relieves my mind as I push my body. Sometimes it has been the only good thing in my day!
During the many hours spent inside on the workout floor, I notice women looking at themselves and the image they see, and how this makes them feel. A casual conversation with a fellow member has resulting in me started a blog about fitness and fashion for the Indian woman called Agile Fashionista. So Contours has also been a source of creativeness and helped me create a hobby project that keeps me busy on weekends.
“So why a women’s only gym?” I am seldom asked. No one can deny the gossip, envy, petty bickering and sarcasm that we are sometimes all capable of. Everyone has a favorite spot they want to occupy or those specific dumbbells that they want to claim their own or a locker they think should belong only to them!
However alongside this runs the story of every women grasping with the changes in her body, coping with demands back home, dealing with the wreckage that comes with hormonal changes, trying to fight the urge to eat that samosa she so desires, attempting to fit into that old jeans from yesteryears or simply trying to look radiant at the next wedding she attends.
And what trumps all trivialities is the comfort, support and freedom inside those walls.
I have now collectively spent 2500 hours at Contours over the last 10 years, and as I send Chandra and her team of amazing women gratitude for the gift of fitness, I also wish for them unprecedented success, growth and fame.
Although I should say, ‘break a leg’, I am going to say, “Do the squats, crunch those abs, hold that plank and don’t forget to breathe!
If you’d like to connect with Mehar, you could reach out to her via: