From Crunches To Kickboxing

Updated: Apr 28 2004, 05:30am hrs
Alisha Chauhan is twice blessed. She has a fire in her belly to explore new avenues, as well as the much- needed family resources to fuel it. The younger daughter of Parle Agros Prakash Chauhan, has recently launched V3 Mumbais first women-oriented health and fitness centre.

A graduate from Business School Lausanne, Switzer-land, and Bond University, Australia, Alishas stint with fitness began by sheer chance. It was while writing for dot.coms and magazines that she was bitten by the fitness bug, she says. There was a particular course that she stumbled upon while writing one such article, that got her more interested and subsequently she took it up. It kickstarted her desire to learn more about both physical and mental fitness and she undertook training in the various aspects of fitness and even did a course at the Fitness Institute of America. A couple of years ago, she decided to make her passion her profession too.

She could have followed her sister Schaunas footsteps to steer Parle Agro forward, but Alishas heart was set on her dream project. We always had our options open. The family environment is such that it encourages us to do what we want, she explains her decision to move away from the traditional business.

A boom in the gym culture has led to fitness centres mushrooming at a phenomenal pace and made it imperative for her to find a niche. With V3, Alisha has been able to carve that. I realised that a womans fitness needs are a lot different from that of a mans and decided to create programmes to suit her, she says. With V3, her aim is to give the urban woman a chance to stay fit without having to resort to gyms and intimidating machines.

Alisha Chauhan
Of course, as a business decision, it was a tough one to focus only on women, but Alisha is convinced that the market is ready for services exclusive to women. No matter how open our society is, women have qualms about going to unisex parlours and not many gyms have programmes that suit them completely. Today, women are conscious of their needs and want to pamper themselves with services designed for them, she explains.

Gauri Chopra, a freelance photographer who opted for the aerobics classes here and then went on to avail acupressure massages agrees with Alisha. The ambience at V3 is fabulous. The team is very focused. Moreover, I feel extremely comfortable as I can move around freely, wear whatever I choose to and even go on into the shower straight from the massage chamber without changing.

At V3, Alisha has group programmes that involve aerobics, cardio-vascular exercises and light, weight training. It is important to understand that women workout better in group exercise programmes. It excites and motivates them more, unlike men who are keen on the amount they can bench press, she goes on. With each group limited at about 10 members, the classes are small enough to be personalised and big enough to be a group, she says.

No matter how open our society is, women still have qualms about going to unisex parlours and not many gyms have programmes that suit them completely
At V3, mental fitness is worked upon in tandem with physical fitness. Seminars on personality development, skin care and inner grooming, among other things, are organised at regular intervals and even psychologists can be consulted.

The fitness centre is equipped to take care of all womens needs. It is a multiroomed health centre, with a group exercise studio where women do yoga, aerobics and other exercises. The Info Lounge is where workshops and seminars on womens issues are held. There are separate rooms for sauna and massages as well.

Apart from these, V3 also has a pro-shop that retails active wear like track pants, shorts and sport tops. The centre has also introduced new- age fitness mantras like Tai Chi, kickboxing and power yoga. Also on offer is Bollywood Dhamaka, a programme where one can dance to Bollywood tunes, choreographed by leading choreographersa programme that is particularly close to Alishas heart. A free demo session of each of these classes allows the customer to understand and realise if they will be able to cope with it.

Says Barkha Patel, an entrepreneur, who has joined the kickboxing class, V3 has some of the best instructors. Mehul Vohra, who introduced kickboxing in India, is the instructor here. Barkha had earlier joined the Bollywood Dhamaka classes and regrets her schedule clashes with the class timings.

Once the project was decided upon, the biggest challenge was to find a suitable property. Since V3 is a division of Parle Pet, Alisha received complete support from the group company. My family is very involved with the project and my sister looks into the marketing aspects, she avers. Her job, she says, is more hands on, taking care of the day-to-day operations, introducing new classes, getting the right manpower in place. And though, she is herself a personal trainer, a nutrition specialist and a fitness testing specialist, she does not instruct at V3.

Didnt Papa Chauhan want her to join Parle Agro He is very open minded and has always encouraged us to think for ourselves, she smiles. The hunt is on to find a suitable property for the next V3, and this one, Alisha promises will be much more than just a womans world!