A Certified Nike Trainer, Urmi Kothari Tells IWB All About Holistic Fitness
- IWB Post
- March 12, 2017
It takes a lot of courage to leave everything you have known and learned so far to explore the unknown and untouched territories.
An MBA degree holder, Urmi Kothari, left her established marketing caree, deserted herself from the hustle-bustle of the Mayanagri (Mumbai) and went to Kerala. In what I would like to call as, ‘The Dance of Englightment,’ Urmi realised her inner most desires and re-invented herself as a “Kinetic” fitness trainer. She founded her fitness centre, Kinetic Living, to promote holistic fitness amongst people and is also a certified Nike Trainer.
She has also appeared in the famous Nike Ad video, “Da Da Ding.”
IWB approached Urmi to talk about her life, her goals, experiences, fitness and much more.
The inspiration is my whole life which brought me to the point when I founded Kinetic Living. My mentor, Alvin Saldanha from my advertising days always described me as a very ‘kinetic’ individual because he knew I was a fitness freak and an athlete from the age of 13. That word stuck with me. But, the true embodiment of Kinetic Living is in its philosophy that aims to transform people’s minds using their body as a tool. What it offers to the customers is three-fold:
1. PHYSICAL-MENTAL AWARENESS: Train the body, mindfully: Maximise one’s physical quotient to not only improve their strength, endurance, power, and speed but also inculcate superior body and breath awareness, posture control, coordination, and balance.
We do that through purposefully chosen disciplines of Pilates, Mobility and Barefoot training, Body weight exercises, Kettlebells, Medicine Balls and Suspension training.
2. SELF AWARENESS: through the entire phase 1, we emphasise mind-body connections through controlled and deliberate movements by focusing on quality of repetitions and perfect form over reps or calorie burn. This creates immense body awareness which then starts to TRANSLATE into their lifestyle, moods, relationship with food, how their body responds to exercise, and gradually their behaviour and response to unpleasant or unpredictable situations.
At this stage, becoming aware of the SELF takes place. And, then begins the true mind -body integration. Of course, the regular workouts continue
3. HAPPINESS: When the person has trained with us over a period of 6 months regularly, they become this fireball of energy where they make the effort from within to make the change in their lifestyle, food habits, exercise-life integration, seeking motivation and inspiration beyond aesthetic goals. And, they try to align to what truly makes them happy (having developed heightened self-awareness in stage 2). This is where they are truly empowered to maximise their own potential and set in motion their own version of KINETIC LIVING.
An active body breeds an active mind. We believe in empowering people and not limiting them to weighing scales, reps, calories, and diets.
IWB: You left your established corporate career to pursue a path in fitness. What inspired or instigated you to make such a drastic change?
Urmi: Honestly, when I made the change, it didn’t even feel drastic. It was hard. Anything that your heart wants is simple, but not easy. I just recognised that difference and prevented myself from judging any situation and did what was needed to be done. I put my head down and worked hard.
Before I made the switch, I thought: I want to be known by “who I am” and not “what I am.”
In retrospect, yes, it was a drastic change because, before I founded Kinetic Living (in 2012), and after I quit my job (2009), I was in Kerala for three years, full-time training and performing with an Indian Contemporary dance company called ‘Daksha Sheth Dance Company’ (2009-2012) which is world famous for their dance-theatre. Then, I trained in Kalarippayattu (Kerala’s martial art), and in Yoga under actress Isha Sharvani. I also learnt basics of Kathak and Mallakhamb and body percussion and of course movement.
It was a different life, living away from an urban setting, in a small town, and dedicating my life to dance and movement alone. But it was also one of the most life changing phases of my life: I learnt a lot, laughed, cried, travelled even more. And, every time I felt like giving up, I came back to the reason why I was there, which was because I loved what I did.
IWB: You were seen in the Nike ‘Da Da Ding’ ad which became like a workout anthem. How was the experience? Share some interesting behind-the-scenes moments.
Urmi: The experience was humbling, and at the same time, exhilarating. It was like an icing on the cake after being associated with Nike for almost a year now. It was pure fun on the sets. From the look test to costume trials and then the actual shoot, I felt lucky to be playing a part in a film that aims to kick-start a huge movement in the country on adopting sports as a habit.
One of the behind the scenes was when I was warming up for my solo action shot (which was doing reverse crunches hanging upside down from a ladder). The Director Francois saw me and decided to capture those spontaneous movements. So, the shots in the DA DA DING ad, where I am actually doing a rotation in a deep lunge (my face is hidden), and a close-up shot, where I am actually looking into the camera with my cap and one ear hoop on, is me doing my warm up.
IWB: The ad is also an urge for the girls to take up some sport or physical activity as it helps one gain mental strength, along with the physical fitness. What’s your message for the women to motivate them to take up any form of physical activity?
Urmi: We are always looking for things / activities / experiences that make us feel good about ourselves. Well, who doesn’t? So instead of going for retail therapy, a spa therapy or a sugar therapy for more times than what exceeds the healthy limits, why don’t we try to use exercise therapy which releases the same happy hormones: Endorphins, our feel good hormones. It is inexpensive and good for health, and good looks are a side effect.
DO NOT USE exercise as a punishment for something you ate, But use it as a celebration for what your body can do. Team up, motivate each other to set goals and smash them with your girlfriends. Aim to get fit and good looks will follow.
IWB: Girls, especially, in small cities and towns are discouraged to take up sports and are told to, ‘behave like a girl.’ Why you think there’s this pre-notion about sports and women.
Urmi: There is no PRE-NOTION. It is all created in our minds through social conditioning. There is no such thing as “behave like a girl”. Sports will empower you to have the physical strength which shall also give you the mental and emotional confidence to take rejection and discouragement in your stride. Stand for what makes you feel powerful: Be it playing a sport or wearing a sari.
IWB: What’s your take on Size-zero and the latest trend in fitness, the ‘Ab-crack’ challenge?
Urmi: Kinetic Living, as I mentioned, does not prescribe a FIXED standard for people to live up to. It urges and facilitates individuals to break their physical and mental barriers through mindful workouts ranging from disciplines mentioned above.
All these terms from ‘Size 0’ to ‘Ab crack’ to ‘Thigh gap’ are marketing gimmicks to sell weight loss and beauty notions to women all over the world. This is not fitness, and I would like to clarify this misconception.The superficial nature of these terms has no place in my vocabulary.
IWB: Body Positivity vs. Fat Acceptance. What side do you prefer? Please comment.
Urmi: Body positivity is a balanced way to find what rhythm and pace work for you. It urges you to find activities that make you feel happy and keep you active at the same time. It is community driven, as well, which looks at making positive changes.
In my opinion, one should not interpret fat acceptance to their own convenience. Having negative or anti-fat bias is very different from urging overweight or obese people to take up physical activity to take charge of their health.
The former can be discouraging whereas the latter is a necessity considering the spike in lifestyle diseases due to the inactive lifestyle and processed food. In fact, we need NOT to JUDGE these people that will bring them to a space of assurance and confidence, in turn, helping them to believe in themselves that they can bring a healthy change in their life, in a sustainable manner. And that is where coaches like us all around the world must be responsible for taking that message of true health and fitness to everyone. And not just define it with terms like size 0 or the ab crack or the thigh gap.
IWB: Some tips for the fitness beginners and how they can keep themselves motivated to continue?
Urmi: Set realistic goals. If you are a lazy person, don’t aim for more than three workouts in the week and stick to that. It’s CONSISTENCY OVER INTENSITY. FIND A PARTNER, who can push you when you are down and vice versa. GO THE DISTANCE: Combine healthy eating and exercise which will give you results and you will be motivated even more. PREP the night before. If you have to go for early morning workouts due to work, pack the bag the night before. Plan your workout before hand if you are training by yourself, so the moment you hit the floor, you are on.
Urmi: I have recently started experimenting with grain free food. Let’s see where it goes. I love to travel and going to concerts. I love drawing or doodling. Movie or TV show marathons are a luxury which I enjoy once in a few months.
IWB: Do you think there’s sexism in the fitness industry?
Urmi: I don’t know, and I don’t care. More than sexism people judge people by how they look. I have managed to silence pretty much every single person who has underestimated me (just by the way I look). I believe actions are worth a thousand words.
IWB: What’s Urmi Kothari’s Alter Ego?
Urmi: Ha-Ha. If I want to, I can be at par with hardcore party people, given the right kind of music.
Work hard. Party harder. Workout the hardest.
IWB: Does your fitness streak come from your family? Are they also as passionate as you are?
Urmi: Nope. I am making up for all of them. He-He! After so many years, a little bit is starting to rub off concerning food and fitness. But luckily even growing up, the food was always very healthy. For example, we were never rewarded with chocolates or colas or packaged food.
IWB: What’s the one thing that people consider unhealthy, yet, you have it on your plate?
And here’s the rapid fire round:
How will you define fitness in one word?
Three things needed to equip a home gym?
Urmi: Skipping rope. Mat. Kettlebell
One wardrobe possession that is enough to create a Fitness Fashion Statement?
Urmi: I believe, if you are fit, anything you wear can become a statement.
But for the sake of fashion, I think it would have to be the shoes.
Your favourite song to workout?
Jody Wisternoff is my favourite artist. That is the least I can narrow down to. LOL!
Who is your gym bestie?
Urmi: Kunal Rajput and Aditya Shroff
Any new fitness trend that will take over soon?
Urmi: Bodyweight and Calisthenics
The only reason you will miss your workout?
Urmi: Lack of sufficient sleep which would affect my recovery from the previous workout and / or my performance in the next workout.
Who is Your fitness inspiration?
Urmi: My colleagues. My teachers. Athletes like Serena Williams, Nadal, Federer and Bruce Lee.
What are your Fitness Goals?
Urmi: Quite a few: To clear my level 2 IKFF Kettlebell exam.
To nail the handstand.
Improve my thoracic and ankle mobility.
More power to you, Urmi!
This article was first published on July 25, 2016.