There was a time when Zamina Ladiwala, 31, would move around town on her moped with a gym bag containing a change of clothes for work. Her day would start at 5 am, and, after a couple of sessions as an aerial fitness coach, she would zip across to south Mumbai to attend to her law practice at ZMS Legal.
The day would usually end post 10 pm, with Ladiwala assisting her father at his chartered accountancy firm Minaz& Co. Yet,the daily grind was something she looked forward to every morning, given that she had returned to physical activity after a big break.
After dabbling with throw ball, earning a black belt in judo and finishing class X, Ladiwala was exposed to the basics of accounts at her father’s firm. Before she realized it, the hours at play had made way for a sedentary lifestyle as she pursued a commerce degree. Once she enrolled for a bachelor of law(LLB) degree from KC Law College in 2008, she decided to change this, taking on recreational running.
“The walk-run routine made way for regular 10 km jogs on Marine Drive. It made me feel strong and helped me think clearly. I was studying law and also pursuing my chartered accountant examinations, so office (at Minaz) was a very engaging place for me. I always knew that this was the firm I had to help grow,"Ladiwala says. Soon,she was dealing with matters related to income tax,company law and trademarks, and, after finishing her degree, she set up ZMS Legal in 2013.
“I wanted to specialize in companies,since there were very few lawyers out there dealing with the subject,"she adds.
Exploring new avenues
The few free hours at office were spent pouring over books related to fitness. Along with some friends, she started lifting weights and explored spinning, CrossFit and functional training. Along the way, she found a connect with aerial yoga on the weekends;she found it challenging and more effective.
“I was a little maniacal and my friends would ask me to take a break. But I always wanted to push myself to a level where I looked and felt like hell after a workout," she says, laughing.
There was this curiosity in hanging from a silk hammock while trying to contort into an asana, and a sense of achievement in pulling it off.A few friends suggested she try earning an instructor certification. After earning her badge and investing in equipment to set up her practice at a studio in Lower Parel in October 2017,she found two takers for her sessions.But when they left a couple of months later, she shut down the class to focus on her law firm.
“My practice as a lawyer had taught me that I should finish the job I had taken up. It was okay to fail,but I had to sleep on it and come back to give my 200%, if needed,to make it a success," Ladiwala says.
So, when the next enquiry about classes arrived in February last year, she went about refining her programme, adding her experience of Pilates, strength and functional training to aerial yoga. The results began showing on the first client, who brought in a friend, in a few weeks, . Soon, Ladiwala realized that the five hammock set-up would prove insufficient in the days to come.
“From sweaty palms during the first session, I had broken out of my shell and had the confidence to take on any thing and talk to anyone," she says. With an expanded facility in Lower Parel and more batches, including one for children as well as private sessions, Ladiwala had her hands full with 24 students in the next six months—the figure today stands at 60. As she juggled the new passion for fitness with her old love for law, she realized that she would have to prioritize if she had to do justice to either. “It started off by working from home on a couple of days, and today, I drop in at the office every now and then to supervise and delegate work. Planning yoga sessions has helped me organize work as well.When I have to attend to a case, I simply reschedule my session. I’ve given it 15 years of my life—it’s my baby and I want to take full responsibility for it,"she says. These days, Ladiwala continues to ride around town on her moped. Only now, she has more time to soak in the surroundings.
Adventure Junkies is a series about professionals who like to challenge themselves physically.