From working on PowerPoint to working on abs: Pooja Rao
When she felt her work-life balance was off-kilter, Pooja Rao decided to exchange her role as an IT recruiter for that of a Pilates trainer.
Seeking work-life balance
After graduation, Pooja Rao didn’t have to go job-hunting; the opportunity just fell into her lap. She began as an IT recruiter and moved on to more strategic roles even as she watched the landscape change dramatically. It was challenging, exciting and the pay was great. But somewhere along the line, says Pooja, she realized her job had gone from being a 9-5 one to a 24/7 occupation. “I was beginning to feel dissatisfied with my lack of work life balance,” she recalls. She began to feel restless and wanted to do something she was passionate about. “I wanted to help people and see the results, but beyond that I wasn’t too sure of what I wanted to do,” she says.
Pilates for everyone
Meanwhile, Pooja had always been interested in personal fitness. “It may have had to do with plain vanity,” she says. “Like most girls in their teens I wanted to be slim and wear great clothes. However, as I grew older and, thankfully, wiser my interest in fitness turned into a quest for better health rather than plain aesthetics.”
It was at that point in time that she became introduced to and fascinated by Pilates. “It was and (is still) very new in India and I loved this method of exercise,” Pooja says. She describes Pilates as an intelligent form of exercise that focuses on quality of movement. “I decided to share my love for this form of exercise and the benefits that I got from it with others and started teaching in various leading Pilates studios and health clubs.”
Turning a passion into a pay check
Loving what she was doing, Pooja decided to dive in and start her own Pilates studio in 2015 called Transform Pilates Studio. She believes it’s important to have proper qualifications before you embark on a career as a fitness trainer and has a STOTT Pilates certification to teach mat- and reformer-based Pilates, a TRX certification and Core Barre (a method that combines Pilates with ballet moves).
Faith and a different life philosophy
Of course, it took a big leap of faith to change tracks as she did. “The biggest risk I took was quitting a well-paying steady job for something that would possibly not pay me as much, at least in the short run. I think many people, myself included, take for granted the safety of getting your salary every month! The first few months were tough I had to rethink my spending habits and my wants,” she says, emphasising the need to make a distinction between wants and needs. It’s something every aspiring entrepreneur and chaser of dreams must learn, she believes.
Pooja learned to declutter both her head space as well as her material possessions and says, “Once I started letting go it was amazing. I felt free and wasn’t being driven by my wants and desires. I spent money only when I really needed something. I wasn’t rushing off to every you're- a-fool-if-you-let-this-go sale! I wasn’t part of the corporate rat race.”
Finding a true identity
The other big challenge, according to Pooja, is learning to let go of the sense of identity your job gives you. This passionate Pilates trainer now gets her highs now from seeing people who walk into to her studio with a backache or knee pain walk out a few months later with little or no pain and a smile on their face.
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