Sucheta Pal On Zumba And Busting Pregnancy Myths
Do you stop being yourself once you become pregnant? The brand ambassador of Zumba in India, Sucheta Pal leads by example as she sets out to bust some pregnancy myths. Here is the exclusive interview!
By Team ParentCircle
Meet Sucheta Pal, the first ambassador and education specialist for the international fitness brand Zumba® Fitness in India. Sucheta has been instrumental in making the workout a household name in the country. In addition, she is a motivational speaker and women wellness influencer!
What is outstanding to note is that Sucheta Pal was felicitated with the prestigious ‘First Lady’ title for her notable contribution in women's wellness by the Honl' President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2018! She was one among the top 100 women in India, selected by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, to receive this title in recognition of being pioneers in their respective fields, along with the likes of Dipa Karmakar and Aishwarya Rai.
Recently, she initiated a seven-city India tour where she conducts Zumba® master class with over 100 plus attendees in each city. Her tour's initiative is to break three myths around pregnancy and to particularly emphasise that life doesn't necessarily have to come to a standstill or change drastically for a woman during her pregnancy.
ParentCircle catches up with this inspiring techie-turned Zumba trainer, as Sucheta is gearing up to enter motherhood herself. Sucheta goes on a ballistic mood as she talks about her passion for Zumba, pregnancy and her journey so far. Find out how this small-town engineering graduate found her life's calling in Zumba.
Are you one of those women who becomes extra cautious and less active, once you conceive? And is it the right approach to welcome pregnancy? Sucheta begs to differ. Read on to know what she has to say!
On her journey from Ranchi to training and promoting Zumba across the world…
It’s been a roller coaster ride of experiences and emotions from the day I decided to quit my corporate job as an engineer and choose dance and fitness as my alternate career path. As a small-town girl from Ranchi, the only dream we are told to see is that of becoming an engineer or a doctor. I am sure most people from smaller towns would relate to this when I say that my parents had put all their time, effort and money into hoping to make that dream come true. I don’t regret that engineering degree one bit. In fact I am grateful to my parents for a wonderful education they gifted me with. But my heart's calling was towards dancing.
How she found her calling…
So, at 25, after working a 9 to 5 corporate job for years, I started developing health issues. I battled depression and anxiety. I decided to quit my job and take up professional dance training. I must admit it was tough initially but with sheer determination, I continued. Eventually, I moved to the US to pursue my passion for dance further. And that’s when I discovered Zumba in 2010. First, I was hooked on to it as a student but then soon, I took my license instructor training from an official Zumba education specialist and found myself teaching classes very soon.
This continued for almost two years in the US. My life finally turned around when one fine day I was invited to audition by the CEO of Zumba in Miami in 2012, to become the first Zumba education specialist for India. I bagged the role after a rigorous audition and training process. This was my turning point!
I came back to India to inspire aspirants to take on the career path of being licensed instructors. And today, I am very proud to say that I have trained thousands of instructors in India alone, and they are doing a fantastic job of taking the message of dance and fitness to every nook and corner of India.
On support from parents…
My parents have always been so proud of my sisters and I. Of course, initially, they were worried about me that I no longer wanted to pursue a corporate career. However, they soon came to terms with it and respected the fact that my true happiness and passion lies in Zumba dancing. What changed their minds was when they noticed the amount of sheer hard work and intense effort that went into pursuing this dream. They have since, showered me with their blessings every day after that. After my marriage, my husband and in-laws have been constant support too.
On her 7-city tour to break pregnancy myths …
The message of the 7-city tour is simple. "Life doesn’t stop for a woman when she is pregnant …so don’t stop!"
I use the hashtag #PregnantandPerfect because I truly feel that we women are perfect the way we are, irrespective of age, size, status, career, etc. And pregnancy shouldn’t change that belief. Why should women suddenly feel that they should stop exercising or take a step back in their career or suddenly put on excessive weight and just let it go?
Also, I got pregnant at 37, when most doctors suggest conceiving before you turn 35. I always maintained a healthy lifestyle, so I am able to carry on with this pregnancy without any issues so far. There are so many myths around pregnancy, and my aim is to bust some of these.
In India, we are blessed to have the much-needed help from family and friends. But ask your pregnant friend who has settled abroad? You will find her pushing the grocery cart herself, then running off to her Zumba or yoga class and maybe even driving herself to the hospital when the water breaks. So, if you have the doctors' go ahead, it is perfectly safe to exercise during pregnancy and in fact, light exercise is highly recommended to keep you and your unborn baby in good health.
On Zumba and pregnancy….
Unlike popular belief, Zumba is not at all a high-intensity exercise, but instead is simple, easy and fun for beginners and fitness enthusiasts alike. In fact, since it’s inspired from dance and music, it is a great means to nurture the mental well-being of a new mom-to-be.
If you have been practising Zumba or any other form of exercise before pregnancy, it’s advisable to continue with a 30 per cent reduction in intensity. This is advised because your heart is working double the time, as a fetus is growing in you and also attributed to other hormonal changes. But if you have never worked out before, then this is not the time to start something new.
However, doctors do recommend walks and pre-natal yoga. To be on the safe side, as each pregnancy is different from another, always consult your doctor before you pursue workouts during pregnancy. I did too.
On Zumba being an ideal weight loss plan to lose that post-pregnancy weight...
Zumba is great for new mothers. Mild to moderate exercise can be started after two weeks since the time women underwent vaginal birth, and six weeks for c-section (again only when the doctor gives you approval). Be mindful to always train with an experienced and certified trainer, be it Zumba, Pilates, yoga, etc. Exercise is ideal for functional fitness and longevity. To lose post-pregnancy fat, nutrition is the key and only a certified nutritionist should guide you with this.
On benefits of Zumba for moms …
What I love about Zumba is that it is a great way to improve your heart's strength and endurance. Your heart, when pregnant is pumping three times more blood to make sure the fetus is growing healthily. If you are planning a pregnancy – give it a great start with Zumba.
There is a format called Aqua Zumba which is conducted in water. It comes with the same benefits but provides more protection to your ligaments and joints as they are relaxed due to the release of the hormone progesterone. This can be a great format for pregnant women.
Last but not the least, being pregnant or a busy mom can be mentally exhausting too with constant worries while managing hectic schedules. In a Zumba class – you can find a strong community of women who can be a great support system to you. Further, this format of exercise, which is based on music and dance can be a great energiser for your mind and a stress buster.
On Zumba and kids….
Zumba comes with two specialisations for kids namely Zumba kids and Zumba kids Jr. These are taught across 190+ countries by licensed instructors and the benefits are mind-blowing.
4 to 6-year-olds come under the format of Zumba kids Jr and 7 to 11-year-olds are taught at Zumba kids. Each format has specially-curated music and choreography that is created by the Zumba headquarters every month and then taught by a licensed instructor in your city.
Zumba not only encourages children to leave their gadgets behind and get active by moving and grooving to the music, but it is also educational, as kids learn a lot about world culture through music and dance. Further, lots of interesting games are incorporated into these dance classes, which help them evolve into good team players and healthy leaders of the future.
On Zumba as a co-curricular activity in schools…
A definite yes, especially after the Prime Minister's Fit India campaign. It’s a great way for children to start moving without competition or judgment. It could be the ideal way of creating fit and healthy future leaders. It has already been started as a co-curricular activity in various schools across India. I recently had the privilege of teaching in some schools as part of a Cartoon Network School Activation association.
Message to ParentCircle readers...
As I enter my third trimester of pregnancy, my respect for mothers and parents is growing in manifolds. It’s no longer about creating a legacy via your child but it’s about what new we can learn and experience via them. As an expecting mother, I am excited about this journey and thankful that I have a partner who believes in equal parenting.
We believe both men and women are equal partners in parenting. Be it changing diapers or dropping them to school or missing an office meeting for their annual shows are part of a man's job as much as a woman’s. Now, it is the norm and expected. I applaud that increasingly, men are realising this and being more involved as an equal parent. Hoping more parents would believe in equal parenting.
With her graceful yet energetic performances across seven cities, Sucheta Pal has broken many stereotypes and manages to set some pregnancy goals for moms-to-be. Her message to all those women out there, pregnant or otherwise, follow your heart and lead a fit and healthy life!
Hall of Fame
- In 2018, Sucheta was honoured by the President of India as the ‘First Ladies’ for her role in women wellness and empowerment.
- In 2017, she was awarded the Wellness Entrepreneur of the year by the India Health & Wellness Summit and Awards.
- She is the brand ambassador of Zumba in India.
- She is a TED Talk speaker and travels across the world to participate in many women-centric subject discussions and conferences.
- She was the first Zumba education specialist in India.
Also read: Fun And Fitness For The Entire Family
About the expert:
Sucheta Pal is the brand ambassador of Zumba in India and lead Zumba education specialist.
About the author:
Written by Team ParentCircle on 10 October 2019.
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