A woman's journey of finding, losing and re-finding her love for sports
An activity that started to tame her hyperactive energies, Purnima Mandava found her calling for sports at the age of seven. A well-known fitness expert and trainer, Purnima says that health, sports and fitness formed the foundation of her academic and social life. She recalls all the arguments she had with her sister to not restrict her from practicing sports. Purnima’s greatest inspiration was her PE teacher Bala Veeraiah, who, seeing her height, urged her to participate in long jump and long distance track racing events.
“After 15 years of graduating from school, our teachers still remember us from among those thousands who passed out of the school. Such is the dedication. And yes I am talking about those days when schools were not just factories producing ranks in IITs and NITs,” adds Purnima. Following her dreams and aspirations, Purnima went ahead to become an internationally accredited sportswoman and athlete.
However, she saw her dream of being a sportswoman fade post marriage and delivery. For a woman who had known sports and activities all her adult life, she was now suddenly unable to even brisk walk for a mile. “I felt shattered, I remember sobbing and losing complete hope,” adds Purnima. However, not wanting to give up, Purnima decided to try her hand at sports again and took up basketball. “This time round I could win back the Indian Jersey,” adds Purnima.
She further says: “There were many long nights including this one, under stressful situations, I used to lose clarity, I had to move forward until I could get back to my clearer vision. Societal expectations that whatever a woman does, she should always prioritise her family over everything else can prove to be a big deterrent for those running their own show. Like most women do, I didn’t want to bow down to the pressure, rising out of the inequality and standing strong to realise my dreams has been the toughest till date. It’s everywhere, and hence we need to workout a win-win situation.”
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The minute Purnima decided to get back into her sporting regime; she knew it would be a tough journey. After hitting the gym 60 days post her delivery, Purnima found it impossible to move. She had lost her early fitness levels, was out of shape and very low on confidence. While working out in the gym, she found it difficult to work-out without feeling conscious as the men seemed to be leering at her.
However, after joining a women’s gym she found that the fitness regimes there were not up to any standards. “For women, weight loss comes along with several factors like body types, hormonal imbalances, pregnancies and other such factors,” adds Purnima.
This is what prompted Purnima to start her women’s wellness centre. Speaking of her journey as a sportswoman Purnima says: “My thoughts swirl back to the days when sport occupied 90 per cent of my life, teammates, friends, seniors, juniors, coaches, practice sessions, fitness camps, games, winning, losing, journeys, and changing room conversations. It’s a flood of memories. Sport, especially if it’s a team sport, it teaches you everything about living a happy life.”
To all the women who chose to join the entrepreneurial bandwagon, Purnima asks them to build a business around a problem that needs to be solved. She also asks them to surround themselves with those who know how to get things done. “Enjoy the journey, because we are often focused so much on the finish line that we often forget to enjoy the journey,” adds Purnima.
She says she currently working on a plan to establish women’s fitness all across the country, with a unique concept which would help them get fit inside out. She believes that this is one concept, which is going to change the way women, especially working women, look at their wellness.
“Always believe in yourself, unless you push yourself physically and mentally, you don’t know what you can truly achieve,” concludes Purnima.