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There’s more to being a fitness and wellness expert than someone who asks you to run faster on the treadmill at a fly-by-night gym; or someone who grudges you that extra serving of rice. True wellness experts have to know the science of nutrition, physiology, first-aid, and people management. And keep updating, constantly. We spoke to three people from the industry, and found out what it means to be them.

Rujuta Diwekar, 34

Nutritionist and author, Mumbai

Star trainer: Rujuta Diwekar eats every 2 hours. By Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

How she got here: Born into a middle-class Maharashtrian family, with an engineer father, college-professor mother, and a sister who graduated from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, Diwekar wasn’t made of quite the same academic build as the rest of her family; instead, her passion was sports. But there wasn’t any particular training or degree being offered anywhere, except abroad, an expensive and unattainable alternative. Diwekar enrolled for a BSc in industrial chemistry from Ramnarain Ruia College, Mumbai, in 1995, and meanwhile, joined as a warm-up instructor at a local gym. After her graduation in 1998, she joined the postgraduate programme in sports science and nutrition at SNDT College, Mumbai. “The MSc taught me the science of nutrition, and definitely gave me an edge over other people who would do two-three months crash courses on the subject," she says.

In 1999, she started working as an independent consultant. Her first client happened to be film director David Dhawan’s wife Lali (“at that time, it was mainly film stars and industrialists who wanted nutritionists"). Most of her clients thereafter were from the film fraternity. It was only in 2004 that she got her first client outside it, monitoring the diet of Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani while he trained for the Mumbai Half Marathon. In 2007, she worked on Kapoor’s “size zero" project, which catapulted Diwekar to fame.

Daily duty: Diwekar starts the day at 6am with an hour of exercise (gym, yoga, or a run). After breakfast, home-made poha or sev upma, she checks her email. Diwekar gets in to work by 9-10am; her office is walking distance from her Khar residence—780 steps to be exact. Her day consists mainly of meetings with clients and her own writing work (Diwekar is working on her third book and is also a columnist). “Most of us know what is good or bad for us, but as a counsellor, your job is to listen, and try to understand why they are craving certain foods," she says. Consultation also happens over email or phone (Diwekar has clients in other cities too). By 5.30-6pm, it’s time to pack up and leave for the day. “By seven-ish, I try to have my dinner and sleep early," she says.

Health regimen:“So much effort goes into it that now it feels effortless. I don’t have to remind myself to eat every 2 hours, it happens automatically. It’s a road full of pitfalls, but the key is to never give up," she adds. Diwekar’s food is home-cooked and the diet is planned a week in advance. “I also have a stacked pantry in office with peanuts, olives and tea," she says.

Challenges of being in the fitness industry: The wellness set-up is not regulated. “Your yoga teacher says one thing, your doctor says the opposite. The industry needs people to be educated properly."

Misconceptions about weight loss:

• Body weight is an indicator of how fat you are.

• Counting calories will help you stay thin.

• Everything that is tasty is bad for health.

Education: Besides a postgraduate degree in sports science and nutrition, Diwekar has done a sports dietitian course from the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra; the Panchakarma course from Mumbai University; and Sadhna intensive and teacher training courses from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Academy, Uttarkashi.

Money: Rs 1-1.4 crore a year.

Divya Mathur, 28

Senior nutritionist/clinic head, Nutri-Health Systems Pvt. Ltd, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi

Charting nutrition: Divya Mathur says carbs are not always bad. By Divya Babu/Mint

How she got here:Mathur was preparing to be a doctor but when her medical entrance exams didn’t go as expected, she decided to get into nutrition. She did a BSc (2003) in home science and MSc (2005) in food and nutrition from Delhi University. After an internship with the National Heart Institute (as a dietitian) in New Delhi, she joined Nutri-Health in 2006 as a nutritionist. As senior nutritionist and branch head, her work is part-counselling, part-managerial. Mathur’s duties as a counsellor entail having to chalk out therapeutic diet plans for patients and delegating duties to the two nutritionists who work under her. She does much more, however, supervising the work of departments like administration, HR and accounts, and monitoring the business aspect too.

Daily duty:Mathur has an 8am-4pm shift (although she ends up staying on till 5pm), and after some amla juice, followed by a glass of milk/tea, she heads to work. She carries her breakfast —a vegetable sandwich—and eats it in office. The workday entails meeting and counselling patients—in person, over email and over phone. Her other supervisory duties take place in between. “The last thing I do for the day is check the revenue targets and follow up on potential clients (whether enquiries have translated into clients) before I leave at 5pm," she says.

Health regimen:“Constitutionally, I don’t put on weight easily but I try to maintain the balancing rule: If you eat out one meal, watch out the next meal."

Challenges of being in the fitness industry:“The presence of slimming clinics that are not medically sound. They don’t take the medical history or personal history of the patients into account, and start immediately with the diet plan/therapy, which only offer temporary solutions."

Misconceptions about weight loss:

• Carbs are bad and should be avoided at night.

• Gymming alone can help you lose weight.

• A diet with no fats, aka a zero-fat diet, will help you lose weight.

Education/training: Apart from a bachelor’s and master’s, Mathur did a six-month certificate course in diabetes education from Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research, New Delhi, in 2010.

Money: Rs 4-4.5 lakh a year.

Deepak Rawat, 30

Fitness training manager, Fitness First India Pvt. Ltd, Delhi and NCR

Minding every step: Deepak Rawat says there’s a need for structured jobs and clubs that focus on developing the skills of their workers. By Pradeep Gaur/Mint

How he got here: Growing up, Rawat was always inclined towards physical activity. After school, he enrolled for an undergraduate degree in insurance and banking from the College of Vocational Studies, New Delhi, in 2000 but eventually did not pursue a career in this field. Alongside college, he kept up his passion for physical training by training with bodybuilding champion Jogender Singh Jayant, and worked as a trainee in Slim and Spa Fitness Centre in Delhi, where he continued until 2003. He followed this up with two one-year stints at small fitness centres.

In 2005, despite not having any formal training in fitness, Rawat landed his first big job with Ozone Fitness N Spa, Delhi. Within a few months of joining, he started preparing for a personal training certification provided by the American Council of Exercise (ACE), a test of basic physiology and human anatomy. He was still working at Ozone. Thereafter, he has continued to upgrade his skills every year. He quit Ozone in 2007, and freelanced for a year, training people in their homes (“you can train people with basic items like a stability ball or TRX," he explains). In 2008, he joined Fitness First.

Daily duty: At Fitness First, Rawat is the head of fitness for all branches in Delhi. His day is 12 hours long—an early morning shift begins at 6.30-7am, a regular shift at 9.30am. The early morning shift starts with either a personal training class or group exercise session (Rawat teaches indoor cycling two-three times a week, which also counts towards his own exercise time). This is followed by a couple of hours of “floor interaction" with clients, which is when he’s generally overseeing how people are doing. At 10.30-11am, he has a meal comprising brown rice, chicken and boiled vegetables. This is followed by a performance and progress meeting with the 36 professionals who report to him. After a small lunch, there is a 90-minute staff training session which starts with a group discussion and often ends with a practical session. Then, it’s time for another small meal, like a peanut-butter sandwich and a fruit, to gear up for the busy post-6pm rush at the gym. At 6pm, there’s usually a personal training or group exercise session, and by 7.30-8pm, Rawat is set to leave.

Health regimen: Rawat gets 6-7 hours of exercise every week (the cycling classes plus staff training), and participates in a sporty event, like the Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon in January, four times a year. He makes sure he eats home-cooked food on most days (“only one or two days in the week are cheat days when I eat outside food," he says).

Challenges of being in the fitness industry: “Too many gyms or slimming clinics with staff that’s not appropriately trained. We need clubs that focus on developing the skills of their workers, new trainers should have structured jobs so that they can understand the industry better."

Misconceptions about weight loss:

• There is such a thing as spot reduction.

• Gymming alone will make you lose weight (it cannot, unless coupled with a nutritious diet).

• Women believing they’ll get muscles like men if they work out with weights.

Education/training: Rawat has cleared three essential exams for trainers—personal trainer certificate (ACE, 2006), clinical exercise specialist (ACE, 2007), advanced health and fitness specialist (ACE, 2008). Each took a year of preparation. He also has practical training degrees in resisted movement training, as well as training for specific exercise machines—like Power Plate, Kettlebell and TRX—that help him stay up-to-date.

Money: 8.5-11 lakh a year.

Every month, we explore a profession through the lives of three people at different stages in their careers.

Tell us which profession you want to know more about at businessoflife@livemint.com

shreya.r@livemint.com

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