This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Neha Agarwalla. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How I Started A Gym That Redefines The Idea Of ‘Perfect Bodies’

Growing up, I wanted to be “pretty” and thin, like the women on TV. It was with that idea in mind that I decided to join Crossfit, a community-based fitness regime, where there are no gender-based differences on training and workout. I didn’t know exactly what this entailed then, but a few months into it, and I fell in love. In love to the extent that it changed my entire perception of what fitness meant to me.

Those evening training sessions soon became the one thing I looked forward to every day. I was consistent, diligent and keen to learn. And unlike the skinny figure that I’d expected, my body changed in other ways: in fact, I got a bit bulky. And somehow, it didn’t matter much, because I was feeling fitter, even if not ‘petite’.

Many friends commented on my changing body, critical of the fact that I was getting muscular and that, in their books, wasn’t very ‘feminine’. But I didn’t let the comments affect me much. I wanted to do my push-ups, pull-ups and learn weight lifting (different from weight training). I wanted to get better at working out. I was soon eating better, not to have a flat stomach, but to be able to perform better during the workouts and just generally feel more energetic during the day.

But my experience made me realise that years of conditioning have made it very difficult for others to truly appreciate the beauty of athletic bodies. With advertising and media propagating only one kind of appearance as ‘beautiful’, it became very common for me to hear my friends comment on muscular women, saying “Yuck, she’s so manly!”

CrossFit taught me better. I learned to appreciate this ‘manly’ woman as a dedicated individual who has worked very hard to transform her body into a machine that’s strong and fit to a level that few people can imagine. And the idea thrilled me.

Two years into it and I was in talks with one of my coaches, Vishisht Kapoor, about starting my own CrossFit Box. I wanted to do for others what CrossFit has done for me. To let people know that physical appearance isn’t an indicator of your physical health, and this is something we all fail to comprehend, time and again. The idea behind my CrossFit Box was to set fitness goals that helped others in a way that at the age of 70, they’re able to go for a run with their grandkids.

Non gender-based workouts at 303 Crossfit Drive
Workouts at 303 Crossfit Drive are not gender-based, nor do we believe in the concept of ‘perfect bodies’ for men or women.

While I was nervous because I didn’t think I had the prerequisites needed to open and run a gym; I also knew that this was something I could really do, having already rejected the offer to join my family’s business. So, I found the courage and in 2016, with Vishisht, started 303 CrossFit Drive. Just like myself, Vishisht had worked with his family business but was more inclined to starting something in the fitness space. With two years of experience coaching at CrossFit, he was the ideal person to partner with and take forward our own CrossFit venture.

Time taught me that working with Vishisht proved to be a great idea. The fact that our ideologies are on the same lines, even if we’re very different personalities, really smoothed things out for our startup. We both had the same ambition: to open a gym where instead of just promoting typical weight loss packages, we could help people set long-term sustainable fitness goals for themselves.

Things were tough, initially. We began with some of our peak hour classes running empty. CrossFit is more expensive than a regular gym, which makes it really hard to attract new members. Our unique approach, however, helped build initial traction. Around this time, we also decided to build our social media pages and populated it with posts, which led to even more customers trickling in.

A year on, we run group classes of about 10-12 people each. Every workout routine is different here, and performance results are tracked and measured to keep tabs on everyone’s progress. Everyone follows the same workout every day, and the workout is different every single day. The sense of community at CrossFit is unique; everyone knows one another, there is always someone to help with technique. You can compare workout results, be part of healthy competition. And in this community-based approach, lies 303 CrossFit Drive’s true appeal.

One of our biggest challenges at CrossFit has been getting people’s mindsets about their diets to change. Eating cleaner is the only way to get fitter, but getting people to do that is hard, to say the least. We even run bi-annual, 6-week long ‘Eat Clean’ Challenges to motivate those who need the extra push. And for us, success is measured when we see the small fitness achievements that our clients make, whether it’s learning a new lift, or managing their first unassisted pull ups and pushups.

Non gender-based workouts at 303 Crossfit Drive
For Vishisht and I, success is measured when we see the small fitness achievements that our clients make, whether it’s learning a new lift, or managing their first unassisted pull ups and pushups.

Both Vishisht and I truly believe in quality over quantity. For us, success lies in the everyday achievements of our clients. We don’t intend to expand rapidly or set up a chain as soon as possible. We love the family atmosphere in our gym and our personal equations with our members. And that’s what we see ourselves doing: bettering our gym, bettering these personal equations and maybe starting another box sometime in the future. But, we never want to lose sight of why we started up: to provide quality fitness programmes to the everyday man.

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