[100 Emerging Women Leaders] How this woman braved domestic violence and abuse to find her niche as a fitness trainer
Sudipta Mondal is well known as a fitness and lifestyle coach, sustainable practitioner, and for following a eco-friendly lifestyle.
Over three to four years ago, she was leading a high flying life as one of the top dancers of Shiamak Davar’s troupe. Routine travel, dance shows, and good money was a part of Sudipta’s life.
Like most young girls from small towns, she moved to Delhi from her hometown in Sindri, Jharkhand, close to two decades ago, and was sure that she would be paving her own path and create a niche for herself.
“I left my hometown when I was 16, and I have always been independent since then. I took no pocket money from my parents and started working as a print journalist for a year and rented a flat. I switched my profession to being a performing artist in a live theatrical show named 'Zangoora', earned money but without any savings, completed 1,400 shows, and left Delhi in 2014 to Mumbai after getting married,” says Sudipta.
However, life took an ugly turn after marriage.
From being restricted to pursue her training classes to being abused by her husband, Sudipta went through a lot before she decided to divorce her husband and find a niche for herself of becoming a fitness trainer.
Sudipta recalls how the systematic breaking of her confidence and morale started after she got married and moved to Mumbai. She was restricted to being a Zumba instructor, and she had to deal with emotional abuse from her husband, which soon turned into violence.
“It was years of systemic abuse. I am speaking about it for the first time. And like every other Indian girl, I was told to ‘adjust’ and see how things change. While I could handle the difference of opinions, I couldn’t understand the affairs. One time when I confronted him and told him loyalty for me was important to keep the marriage going, he poured a whole glass of lassi over my head,” recollects Suditpa.
She says, her ex-husband and in-laws first stopped her from taking fitness courses and Zumba instructions to men. Initially, Sudipta gave in to all their demands, and figured that they were traditional and like every other woman, she tried to ‘adjust’.
But things started getting worse, and it was then that Sudipta decided to break the marriage and find herself again.
The divorce proceedings itself took close to two years as her ex-husband and his family were against the divorce. While convincing them took some time, Sudipta separated and lived with her student for some time.
Finding herself again
Sudipta says, “I knew no one in Mumbai apart from my now ex-husband, who eventually turned out to be violating my rights as a wife and an independent woman. I invested all my savings in upgrading my fitness skills through certification in Zumba, pilates, and functional training. But I was still not able to earn more as I had to put to fight a case for domestic violence to come out of an unsuccessful two years of married life. My parents helped me for a while with finances, but one day I decided to change my life and take myself to a higher level of fitness.”
She started teaching and training regularly with different mentors who held mastery in their field of work.
“It was tough for me to manage my finances in the city of dreams, but I started teaching double hours. I invested all the money to upgrade my skills,” she says.
“From 2018, my life transformed when I changed my whole approach towards a minimalistic lifestyle; by turning vegan and oil free; donating half of my clothes, books, furniture, and much more; studied nutrition and lifestyle coaching; and creating fitness and holistic wellness videos.”
Today, Sudipta has found her feet back and is still finding her niche in fitness and helping others find their fitness goals and dreams. Sudipta runs fitness classes online as well as conducts individual training sessions. She trains people in Zumba, Parkour, and functional fitness.
Advising all women she says,
“We all have a deep innate strength and power, we need to go within ourselves and tap into it.”