Tuesday, 10 February 2015

How Girish Gogia Conquered Quadriplegia

We are all born to win and we just have to believe in that, asserts Girish Gogia, a quadriplegic who turned his fate around to inspire millions as a motivational speaker  

Sunday, 1 February 2015


Mumbaikars are opting for fun, trendy workouts for physical and mental health

Nineteen-year-old Vrushank Raghatate finds wrapping, suspending, swinging and spiralling his body a very meditative process in his aerial silk class. Clinical psychologist Divya Batra, on the other hand, strips away her extra pounds in a pole-dance fitness class.
“The tangling and untangling process gives me a different perspective towards life,” says Raghatate, the Andheri resident who enjoys his aerial acrobatics. Like these two, Mumbai boasts a plethora of fitness workouts where residents use various options to remain physically fit and mentally agile.
So, what can you do to get in shape?

Wat-er workout
The therapeutic properties of water are healing scores of Mumbaikars. Sixty-year-old Jyoti Shah who underwent knee-replacement surgeries for both her legs, says, “Aqua-aerobics has improved my gait, posture and aided the healing process.”
Aqua specialist Deepali Jain takes pride in sharing that her 84-year-old student, Jinx Akerkar, enjoys her aqua class as much as a nine-year-old.
Then, there is aerial silk, an acrobatic activity performed hanging from a special fabric. “It’s an intense activity and should be attempted just twice a week,” says teacher Aditi Deshpande.
Aqua specialist Deepali Jain with her students

Get seductive
“Everybody is sexy. You all have oomph,” shouts Lavina V Khanna, fitness professional, Pulse Studio, Santacruz. Her twerking class has several citizens shaking their booty.Thrusting hip movements and low squatting stances by a bunch of women set the pace for this workout.
Entrepreneur Monica Mehta adds, “I feel more confident. I feel great at the end of a day.” As the workout gets more intense, others like Batra, use the pole as a tool for mental fitness,“Sexy workouts help to ease the morbidity of my profession.”
Nods Aanchal Shetty, manager, corporate communications, “For the exotic dance workouts, I use satin scarves, bowler hats and faux fur to enhance my dance. It not only helps me shed the kilos but, helps me connect and be comfortable with my body.”  Smiles fitness professional, Shilpa Rane, Perfect Corporate Fitness Studio, Dadar,
 “These workouts are known as goddess workouts: they find and acknowledge the goddess within you.”
Lavina V Khanna conducting a twerking class

Get playful, get grooving
How about bouncing and balancing yourself on a stability or Swiss ball while listening to fast-paced, up-beat music?The soft, pliable surface of the stability ball makes it a comfortable, fun workoutfor your pectorals and body toning. “This workout once or twice a week in addition with other types of workouts is a great stress buster,” says fitness professional, Sonal.
Others are toning their bodies while dancing away in zumba toning classes which blend body-sculpting techniques and zumba moves for calorie-burning and strength-training. Zumba instructor, Mini Mehra, Core Fitness Studio, Seawoods, Nerul,recommends this workout for a maximum three days a week.

Sonal conducting the swiss ball workout

CrossFit uses Olympic lifts in its programme. Body-weight exercises such as push-ups and pull-ups are frequently performed. KettleBells, dumbells, medicine balls,skipping ropes,cones,ladders,plyo boxes, Roman rings and tyres are some of the equipments used.
Forty-three-year-old businessman Rohan Sanghvi swears by cross-fit training, “It’s been a revelation for me.”
Vinata Shetty, trainer, Reebok PDP Crossfit box, Napeansea Road, says, “It’s a group dynamic. You have a lot of partner or team challenges and everyone works out together.”
While the dynamism works for some, others exercise in a gymnasium or on their building terraces. Fitness coach Bindiya Vishwasrao Shetty, explains, “A combination of pilates, TRX, functional and gym-based workouts are very effective and improve core muscle strength.”

Your foot is your core
Barefoot training specialist and fitness professional Rajni Maker, The Body Craft House Studio, Santacruz, assesses different foot types. She informs her clients about the interconnection between the foot, the ankle and lower extremity alignment. Such barefoot training programmes help to restore foot functions and improve athletic performance.

The physical, mental and spiritual discipline of yoga draws people from various walks of life.Kundalini, ashtanga and vinyasa flow are some popular yoga techniques.
Teacher Purvi Pandya, Purvi’s yoga studio, Santacruz,offers a combination of ashtanga and vinyasa. She stresses that yoga should be introduced at a very early age. “Children are facing increasingly competitive times. Yoga helps calm them.”
However, Hansaji Jaydev Yogendra, director, The Yoga Institute, Santacruz, gives you the classical take, “Yoga is a way of life.Yoga means control of the thought process as well as concentration and a balanced state of mind.Asanas and pranayams help you reach this state of balance.

 Benefits of aerial silk:
Neuro-muscular co-ordination
Strength, flexibility, stamina
Gross and fine motor skills of children get enhanced.

Aqua wonders:
To treat joint pains, arthritis, pre and post-surgery rehabilitation for knee/hip replacements, obesity.
Aqualates (water +pilates), aquarobics, aqua strength training, aqua yoga which enhances cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibilility
Approx. 600-1000 calories are burnt in an hour

Pretty on the pole
Builds self confidence
Develops greater balance and kinaesthetic awareness
Develops a strong body, builds stamina and makes your feel sexy
Approximate investment – Rs 8000 for 8 sessions.
Try Twerking
The booty dance workout works your entire body, shapes and strengthens your derriere, thighs, hips, lower back and abs.
Provides great stamina for functional activities.
Zoom into Zumba toning
You learn how to use weighted, maraca-like Zumba toning sticks to enhance rhythm, build strength and tone all the target zones, including arms, core and lower body.
Other forms of zumba incude Aqua zumba, Zumba sentao and Zumba for kids
Stability/Swiss ball benefits
Very effective in strengthening the core muscles of the body.
Helps to improve balance.
Due to the unstable surface of the stability ball, more muscle fibres are recruited while working out on it
Widely used by physiothrerapists for rehabilitation.

Get fit with Cross-fit
Increases agility
Increased muscular strength
Approximate monthly investment – Rs 6000, six times a week.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Learn to get out of your car

On this day, 4 years back, I hurriedly opened my apartment door to pick up the newspaper. I opened the paper to page 3 and there it was: my first published article as a citizen journalist in the Times of West Mumbai--a supplement from Bandra to Borivali. "Promenade Paathshala" represented my leap from nonwriter to writer.  “Yayyayayyaaaya!” I screamed, jumping with joy as Kewal, my husband  watched me in amusement.

 Essay and letter writing in school were the only composition I’d done before this. Penning down a few lines for skits and nursery rhymes came naturally to me during my 6-year-old career as a kindergarten teacher so that too was a small contribution. Now, I had entered a new space. Journalism was completely new for me.

 I enjoyed interviewing people, taking notes and researching, learning about others' achievements and challenges, and taking pictures for stories. However when it came to writing, I was lost. I struggled for the words, stealing them from books to complete my sentences. I would sit for long hours at the computer to figure out whether what I wrote made sense, and I would even call up a friend to ask if the sentence I wrote sounded right. I cringed when I was told to write a story within a specific word count. And yet, somehow, I managed.

Coming from a conservative Punjabi background, my brother and I hardly communicated with our parents in the English language. English always fascinated me. I enjoyed picking up the dictionary to collect new words and writing them down in my diary. I loved my English teacher and scored well in essays.

Every summer vacation, we travelled to New Delhi to naani’s house by the popular Rajdhani Express. I indulged in reading storybooks on the trip. So summer vacation was all about reading, playing, catching up with loads of cousins, and relishing nani ke haath ka khana. Still, my vocabulary was limited. We had friends from diverse backgrounds, but most of them spoke their mother tongue and we conversed in Hinglish while we played.

Now in shoes of a journalist, I needed to be aware of the world around me. I was a homemaker and teacher residing in Bandra, and my life revolved only around 3 areas of Mumbai—Bandra, Khar and Santacruz. I was clueless about travelling by local trains and buses. Even the abbreviations for these modes of travel were foreign to me. But my keenness to learn prompted me to prod the editor for more. Here, the tenacious Talwaar had to prove her mettle. After all, I had resigned from my job as a playschool teacher because of a health challenge. I had no alternative career plan.

With a lot of help, support and encouragement from the editor of that supplement, I began contributing stories regularly. I was introduced to other editors, and I am sure I must have given them a hard time. However my confidence increased, and so did my enthusiasm to explore more. I later got acquainted with terms like sub-head, masthead, slug, plug-ins, typographical errors and later realised the importance of each.
In the meantime I also began hunting for journalism courses. My editor told me the best way to learn writing was simply to write. I am glad I listened to his advice.

Sub-head, subbing and more!
Once, my story didn’t get published because it had loads of errors. I was told there were a lot of typos, and the sub-editor didn’t have time to sub my story because of the deadlines. Now I knew I had serious work to do. I contacted the sub-editor who subbed all the stories and made a deal with her to teach me subbing. I learnt the nuances of subbing from her and didn’t do a very good job initially. She continued to encourage me just as I continued to sub my stories. I would send her my copies and asked her to highlight all the errors in red. Once the story was published, I would go back to the story and go through all the errors. I made loads of mistakes even after making a note but this sub-editor, now a dear friend, never frowned. I used to sit up late at night to do this kind of work because most of my daytime hours were spent writing stories, managing household chores and addressing my chronic spine issue. I owe a lot to her and to the editor who subbed my first six stories.

The drama of deadlines
A journalist has to adhere to strict deadlines and I was no exception. At times, I still had a day or couple of days to submit my stories. Journalists who work full time don't have that luxury. I can understand the pressure they all experience and salute them for their spirit.
As time passed, I began to enjoy the challenges, the deadlines, the anxiety before interviewing a celebrity, and the appreciation. My eyes sparkled each time I saw my byline below every story. There was even a time when six of my stories were published in different plusses in one week.
Entrepreneurs Mehak and Nazim Lokhandwala share their styling tips

The power of the pen
I wrote several genres of stories including profiles, festive features, decor stories, human interest stories, advertorials, and much more. My happiness knew no bounds when the trustee of an NGO told me they managed to gather funds for their project because of my story. I had tears in my eyes when I received a call from a mother of Down syndrome twins who ran a library and were donated box after box of books for their project. I share the thrill and excitement with scores of people when they receive appreciation for their work when their stories are published. I love when people share the stories on their Facebook timelines and tag me to offer their gratitude. This indeed is the best part of journalism.
Tea sommelier - Neetu Sarin shares her insights about teas

A content writer(pun intended;)
My health began to deteriorate, and I couldn’t manage the volume of stories. Most of my stories were written while I was in a lot of pain. Many times, sitting longer than 10-15 minutes was so difficult, I would lie down and write. The hot water fomentation bottle, the ice pack and the Volini gel became my best friends.
I managed without many pain killers during the first two years. But with time, my dependency on painkillers increased. Travelling long distances to interview people became a challenge. At times, I would limp and walk. Sometimes, I couldn’t stand straight because of the pain. At times, the doctor ordered strict bedrest. I reached a stage where every single moment—even now—meant continous, nagging spinal pain. Lots of my time went into rehab sessions, physiotherapy, experimenting with alternative therapies, and visiting orthopaedics.
Girish Gogia speaks about his motivational journey

 I guess my enthusiasm kept me going. Today, I am proud of my 175 bylines and have added content writing to my profile too.
So the homemaker whose world was the three areas of Mumbai has travelled far and wide in Aamchi Mumbai for stories. Before I started as a citizen journalist, I asked the same editor, “Can I get into writing”?

“Paayal,” he replied, “first learn to get out of your car!”

Journalist Paayal Talwaar celebrates her achievements

Shared on the 6th December, 2014:)
Congratulations, Paayal:)
Well done:)