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Sharon Lobo

IWB Blogger

Mompreneur Richa Pant Heals Her Kids’ Wheezing With This Business Idea

  • IWB Post
  •  May 15, 2018

Her children’s illness made her an entrepreneur.

Richa Pant has two children, a 10-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son, who had been suffering from wheezing since they were 4 years old. The disease chokes one’s lungs with phlegm and causes slight noises while breathing. It can be caused by pollution, allergies, smog, etc. The only solution for wheezing is either a nebulizer or steroids. Richa was very concerned about her children consuming steroids and chose to ignore her pediatrician’s advice and sought other methods. She discovered that training their lung capacity can solve this problem.

Sportzye was born when Richa saw how her kids refused to do any physical activities despite all her efforts and just played on an iPad. She thought of a place for kids to get physical development that has an exciting blend of state-of-the-art technology, contemporary gymnastics, and creative fitness ideology. Today that random thought turned into a thriving startup. Excerpts from a chat:

Tell us more about your pursuit of fitness with your kids. 

As a working mother, I wasn’t sure how to engage my children meaningfully. Seeing my children glued to the TV with very less stamina to do anything – they would walk a few steps and feel exhausted. My kids were just not ready to go down and play, they preferred iPads, television, and smartphones for entertainment, so there was zero physical activity. When one doctor recommended increasing their lung capacity through exercises, I wanted to do something to help them adopt a new lifestyle. Whenever I got time, I would take them to a park or to a stadium but there was no regularity, so much so that it became almost non-existent after a point.

I spoke to many mothers who pointed at the limited options available, like martial arts or dance classes. My daughter who was seven at the time was not interested in any of the activities.

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So that’s how Sportyze came about?

Yes! I was looking for a routine which would engage children and improve their fitness. There was no such concept existing in India, so a team of 5 people with a background in sports formed a company which focuses on the physical development of children. We are combining exercises in an exciting way to develop strength, stamina, and flexibility, and these programs are analytically driven. We record the health parameters and observe improvement in these children.

The sections are formed according to age, like 3-5, 6-9 and 10+. The exercises are grouped according to interest. We encourage some children to play at the district, state, and national levels. Most of our kids are under 10 years of age, so it’s a fascinating space to be in.

You mentioned creative fitness ideology. What is it about?

Our programs are based on gymnastics, yoga, and athletics. There is a lot of running and a lot of throwing. Under athletics, we have shot put, jump race, etc. We believe that the child just like in the primary school, should learn basics first, and then eventually move to complex problems. Similarly, we stress upon sports fundamentals that introduce concepts of physical activity and stamina. The standard programs in sports academies ignore this important parameter. They don’t measure the strength and flexibility of a child. However, skills should be built upon these fundamentals. Once the child’s endurance and strength are in place, they can play any game.

Are cultural events part of the creative ideas as well?

Recently, we have introduced storytelling and cultural events. Children today, lack the understanding of our culture. There are hardly any places for children’s cultural activities. So, for any important occasion like Holi or Navratri, we get kids with their mothers and tell them why this festival is celebrated. The Dandiya night is epic. We also celebrated Janmashtami where we taught them to churn the curd to get butter.

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Basically, we teach them why and how festivals are celebrated. For Diwali, we did a Diya-making session for children and storytelling. We bought earthen pots and colors for painting. These activities are guided by a craft teacher. Currently, we are planning a Halloween party.

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How can parents contribute towards the physical development of toddlers?

We have been discussing minimizing the technology exposure of toddlers. It is a must to take them out for an hour of physical activity, daily. Because of the air pollution and chemical-filled food, there is no way we are nurturing a physically fit generation. These days for a lot of parents the idea of spending time with their kids is going to a mall or going to a movie. It is not a quality time. Physical activities, playground games can strengthen parenting bond and camaraderie.

And how can physical activities introduce a healthy concept of competition to children?

For a parent of a generation which is not physically active and prefers a virtual world as a validation for their personal success, the competition begins with pushing children’s performance too hard at every level. The child gets a feeling of “I have to do it,” which can be both good and bad, as it delivers a sense of achievement, but also crafts a bloated ego. As parents, we need to be sure of what kind of value we are imparting to the next generation. Secondly, the child shouldn’t be taught a feeling that they can’t do something. At Sportyze, we encourage and recognize children for their efforts and not based on the results.

 

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Tell me about your journey as an entrepreneur.

It has been quite interesting. At the core, we started as a team of 5 people. We didn’t know if this kind of market had existed, that if parents were willing to send their children to engage in sports and had the spending capabilities. We started with a small set of 15 parents. We launched in May 2016, and then life was never the same. None of the founding members were from the marketing background, so we had no idea that word of mouth would work. 

You have done quite well!

Today we have almost 7000 clients to whom we offer this interesting program, and many parents are asking for a franchise too. So, parents coming forward and realizing the values we are putting out in the society is a reward in itself. And we are still taking baby steps, but I’m sure we will one day contribute towards a healthy generation for the nation.

This article was first published on October 23, 2017.

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