The Game Changer
From being a mother to two beautiful children- Ahaan and Alanna to a bona fide and celebrated fitness trainer cum author, here is a candid conversation with fitness expert Deanne Panday.
Journey of a professional fitness expert
I got introduced to the world of fitness at a very young age. It all began at the age of 12 or 13; I started aerobics at that age and at 16 I begun weight training. The media houses began asking me to write articles and thus my career commenced. At that time not many women used to train (in fitness). I started at a very young age, so I looked fitter than most. Later, I went for a course abroad to get better at my fitness writing. When I started studying overseas, I realized there was so much knowledge that I needed to gain. I stayed back for months and did a course on personal training, nutrition and wellness. During that era there were just a handful of experts who would study abroad. It opened a lot of avenues for me. Mr. Pradeep Guha, who was heading the Femina Miss India pageant, had heard that I completed a fitness course. I was thus invited to train the contestants. Personal trainers at that time were not heard of and Miss India was a huge platform. This was a turning point in my career. Since then, I had been associated with Miss India for 9 years. Following this association, my career in personal training began. Many years later, my gym – ‘Play’ was launched. Subsequently, I wrote my first national bestselling book called ‘I’m Not Stressed’ (published by Penguin Random House). I was the first expert to write on stress and fitness. Soon I wrote my second book called ‘Shutup and Train’ which is a fitness guide for men and women. Following the second book I tied up with an international lifestyle gear brand called Biabrazil’, a Brazilian brand which manufactures very trendy, cool looking athleisure and workout gear for women. There was hardly any smart workout gear in our country at that time. The business was booming. At present, I am writing my third book with Penguin Random House which is due for release by the end of this year.
It came from my father and my sister. When I was very young my father used to tell us stories about how he was a champion swimmer in school, he had a very tough life and its astounding how he made it so big in the advertising world. From a boy who had no money to becoming a self-made man and be one of the leading men in his position, he has always been my inspiration. My eldest sister was a model. She was really pretty and fit. I was so passionate about fitness that I used to do the toughest 90 minute Jane Fonda’s challenge at a very young age.
My role model
Internationally, I have always liked Jillian Michaels. There’s somebody I follow on Instagram, Mr. Tripat Singh, he is 75 years old. I recently started following him. He is very fit. He is my fitness icon as I want to be fit like him at that age.
My work makes me feel alive. There is a Japanese term ‘Ikigai.’ When you find your calling in your work, you wake up every morning, to inspire other people, and to motivate others through your work. I like to inspire people to get fit. My work, my clients, my fitness, my writing, my books, my blogs basically what motivates me is educating people out there. I give a lot of fitness workshops, fitness talks, motivational speaking. I recently spoke at a conclave hosted by a prominent media house. I feel if one is bestowed with a gift one must share it with the world. One can’t be selfish and hold it to oneself!
My regular day
After I wake up the first thing I have is water. Then I gargle my mouth with virgin coconut oil and brush. I have a hot cup of herbal tea. My breakfast is big! It includes few Idlis (beneficial for the gut), seasonal fruits, walnuts and almonds and two-three free range eggs. I work out in early hours, before I begin work. Post gym, I have a vegan protein shake with some fruits. My lunch is 95% vegetarian. It includes different salads, boiled vegetables, soup, rice (red or black) with lots of vegetables in it. I like to have sweet potato every day. I am a carboholic but I eat good complex carbs which is needed for the gut. People always ask me where I get such energy from, so this is my secret- the complex carbs that I eat! Indian chai with lactose free milk is a must for me in the evenings. I have it with two bananas and rusk or khari biscuit. That is my indulgence! I believe in indulging a tiny bit in my cravings every day. I don’t prescribe a diet to my clients because I don’t believe in diets! I believe in eating a well-balanced diet with the right proportions of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, essential fats and fiber. At night, a glass of organic green juice and a half avocado. That concludes my dinner. And when I go out I eat very small and disciplined meal. I eat salad or something less in quantity. Sometimes restaurants do not have a healthy menu, so I choose to do healthy swaps, for example if I order a thin crust pizza, I ask them to put a lot of vegetables on it.
Tussle between personal and professional priorities
When I first began writing, Ahaan was barely 2 years old and Alanna was 4 years old. I used to write from home so that I could spend more time with my children. When I trained Miss India contestants, at the wee hours in the morning, my mother or my mother-in-law would look after my children- When my kids were at play school, for few hours a day, I took on my first client. When they got busy with longer periods of time in school, from morning to afternoon, that’s when I took on more clients. My work always revolved around my children. At an older age, when my kids started going to school, tuitions, extracurricular activities and when they could understand that their mother was working, that’s when I started training and traveling with clients internationally. My children have always been my priority.
One cause close to my heart
Yoga is very close to my heart. I stumbled upon Yoga at a very young age. It was just a beautiful feeling to make my body and mind calm. The post yoga feeling was a very different feeling from the post gym feeling. This is something that I never lost touch with, I practice yoga atleast three-four times a week. Thirty years down the line, even in my busiest days, I still manage to get myself to practice yoga. I am an animal lover. I have a soft spot for animals and old people. I am such a major pet lover that I cannot even hurt an ant! I’m also very particular about how people treat old people. I help old people to cross the road or offer them to be dropped home if needed.
A piece of advice to women (on International Women’s Day)
Be fearless and celebrate who you are. Do not let your size or flaws define who you are. We all have flaws, nobody is born perfect, and everybody is beautiful inside out. Everybody has been brought on this earth with a gift. Find what your gift is, celebrate it and give it back to the world. At this point of time, everyone is obsessed with dieting, working out obsessively and looking good. Do what suits you. Not what others are doing! Do not follow the society like a guinea pig. Celebrate who you are and be proud of it. Fear is only in your mind. Negative self-talk is very harmful; change that to positive self-talk. Do what you love and love what you do. We have one life, live it your way! You have given this life for a reason to celebrate it your way. Shine bright!
Favourite Holiday Destination
The Farm at San Benito (Philippines)
I recently watched ‘Bala’ and I loved it since its about celebrating who you are!
Your Pamper fix
Going to a yoga class or gym. That’s my ‘me’ time
Your favorite book
‘I am not stressed’ secrets of a calm mind and body, and ‘Shut up and train’ a complete guide for men and women.
Top workout tips
Your workout is as individual as your fingerprints. What suits you, will not suit anybody else. So, do not try to be somebody else. Everybody’s body is different.
Your fitness mantra
I just believe in a positive mind. I am non-judgmental and I get along with all kinds of people. Just have faith, hope, discipline and determination
Japanese cuisine. Because it’s healthy!