How a boy from the suburbs of Mumbai went to #Mickeymizing the world by bringing fitness into the forefront of people's mind.
September 21, 2017
Under the bright lights of red light area, where futures are equally gloomy; I was born into a lower middle class Parsi family in the infamous Grant Road suburb of Mumbai. Bravados are more born and less made; referring to the kids who grow up between the prostitution and pimps, and one time kingpins begging with severed limbs, gambling dens at every 10 metres, country liquor sold by every tom, jack and peters. This was the infamous grant road on 1960s Mumbai, a harlem of broken dreams and vanquished hopes. Where touts are present on every routes, and looting and mugging was the order of the day.
I did not have a normal childhood by the normal standard of normal! Being one of the last families to move out of this area, growing under this environment was far from societal definition of a normal happy childhood! Often The flow was smooth, but many a times I fell under the rapids; being tossed and tousled in life, I kept roving from sanctuary to sanctuary and anchor to anchor, as changing homes and schools kept me far from being grounded in a cocoon of comfort and security a 10 year old finds himself in. But as destiny always finds her way, life finally managed to seed the much awaited spark in the last of the boarding schools I graduated from!
Far from being an ace achiever in school, I was infact possibly borderline dyslexic; with basic concepts of algebra being completely alien to him. Until one such teacher happened to tune into my personal frequency of absorbing the secrets of this universe and made learning a child’s play. It was in the Bhosale military school that oriented me into the world of physical fitness and prowess whereas the Boystown public school seeded the spiritual sojourn-before I finally stepped into the University of Universe. This spiritual spark eventually snow-balled into the light of light and how-ultimately birthing the Shoonyam quotient!
Fresh out of school, my first job was as the undercover security officer at the Cida De Goa for a humble salary of Rs. 1250 in 1984. Post this I started my stints as health club manager at Ramada and Oberoi in Mumbai followed by a an international stint in Oman. Of these my stint at the Oberoi Mumbai proved to be the defining milestone of my career as the first fitness guru of India. In 1993 I launched what others untill today find it unbelievable, my revolutionary program of ‘Learning Swimming in 24 hours!’ This was my claim to fame! I still am not sure if this was the smartest or the stupidest move of my career back then, but in retrospect I’m glad that it became a huge success as he today can boast of having taught swimming under 24 hours to the likes of Aamir Khan as well!
From the claim to fame of being the 24 hour swimming coach, came the calling for Miss India pageant trainings; which celebrated me as the first ever personal fitness trainer for these beautiful ladies gearing up to take global stage. Prodigies like Priyanka Chopra and Lara Dutta, Icons like Yukta Mookhy and Diana Hayden and many more beauty queens were born under my mentorship on the Miss India platform. I believe in doing smallest things the Himalayan way and biggest things equally effortlessly; I consider myself a divine blessed soul. I always dipped into the Shoonyam-ness to achieve these and believe I was destined to take this philosophy to the world.
My affair with the Bollywood biggies began in 1982 when I worked as the personal martial arts trainer of the yesteryears’ superstars as well as their children who reign as the mega-stars of today. Slowly, the big billionaire boy club as well as the politico power of India started seeking me for my expertise on fitness and wellness; and thus India’ Inc.’s favourite fitness guru was born.
With the gaining popularity across the fitness conscious India Inc. came the deluge of media interest in taking fitness to masses. I took my fitness and wellness expertise to the Indian demographic with television shows, interviews and columns across leading publications and of course radio which even after 36 years of maintaining industry leadership India wakes up to my morning wisdom on Radio One to get Mickeymized! From Miss India pageants, to the leaders of Corporate India Inc., to the Government politicos I had successfully mickeymized all with my fitness and wellness philosophies. It was thus not surprise but an absolute honour when Harvard University invited me in 2016 to address the future thought leaders at the University with my unrivalled knowledge and ideologies for happier, healthier and a more fulfilled life.
I pioneered the concept of Wellness centres in India in 2003, and the rest is history. This led to Indian as well as Global brand ambassadorships taking the beloved Mickey Mehta brand onto global centre stage. But as life tests most visionaries, my vision of a wellness revolution for holistic human evolution was also facing its challenges due to paucity of qualified talent and resources; Life continued to show me good and bad times; things were beautiful and ugly too at the same time! As the best wisdom comes from worst experiences, I too sailed through and rose as the glorious phoenix of the Indian wellness horizon. This is also when the book ‘The Shoonyam Quotient was born! The book grew and shaped during the most challenging and defining 10 years of my life.
Over time, I noticed the mediocrity of life, burdened by the non-essentials where people kept scurrying around like headless chickens. Gone were the days, of H.G. wells, Tolstoy and Charles Dickens. We are worthlessly chasing the unworthy!’ To shed more light onto the art of Shoonyam living, Mickey introduced his #GetMickeymized morning messages to the world 5 years ago. His #GetMickeymized Quotes celebrate the spirit of personal growth and evolution towards the nirvana called wellness. Transcending from domination of Indian fitness landscape to the Global wellness horizon, Mickey has amassed inimitable knowledge and wisdom from the eons gone by, which he now lovingly combines with his signature brand of charm, wit and poetic inspiration to #Mickeymize the world!
Have seen people happy, seen people cry; have seen people thrive in awareness, but those in ignorance, wilt and die! The story of my life is no other than the story of the common, it’s just that with the bumps, shocks and roller coasters I learnt to take my Shoonyam dips. I have taken mine, and now it’s your turn. And trust me it is better than dipping into the Ganges!