In Conversation with Ashishh Gupta

Q. Please introduce yourself and tell us about the beginning of your journey towards fitness.

A. I think this is the most difficult question of any interview. How can one describe oneself when one is constantly changing and evolving every day? I guess I became too philosophical with the question suddenly. Anyways, let’s get the ball rolling. I was born and raised in New Delhi, with schooling from St. Columbus School, Ashoka road. I was quite a nerd and supremely healthy during my school days (In more embarrassing terms I was 110 kgs.). It was this ‘110 kgs.’ number that made me understand the importance of fitness very early on in life.

Q. What inspired you towards fitness and how did you evolve your idea?

A. The above ‘110 kgs.’ might be the first pushing factor towards fitness. I consciously started my tryst with fitness while pursuing my graduation from Hindu College, University of Delhi between 2002-2005. In those days, there were no good gyms let alone any good nutritionist in the city so I took it upon myself to reduce my weight by playing lawn tennis and working out which according to me were going to help me to manage my weight. Using these techniques I was able to reduce my weight by 45 kgs, which I think was a sort of achievement back then.

The importance of diet in keeping weight at bay and staying fit dawned upon me during my stint at ‘NDTV Metronation’ from 2007-2009. Being a producer on a breakfast show, I used to meet all the great chefs of the city, whose plating techniques of ambrosial food would leave me amazed. But the thing that left me intrigued and in fact opened my eyes to ‘Fitness’ was the simple fact that food can be used to nourish one’s body and keep weight at bay. It was a moment of reckoning.

My own journey from ‘fat to fit’ inspired me to give back to the community what I had learnt from it. Combining my MBA degree with the experience I had obtained, I was waiting for an opportunity to do something in this field and as luck would have it, I got an opportunity to start a ‘Gold’s Gym’ around 8 years ago, in the year 2012 and I knew that this would be the first step towards achieving my dream and passion i.e. ‘Fitness’.

In a land where food is art and the staple diet is more carbohydrate oriented than protein inclined, it was essential to make fitness a habit. With two ‘Gold’s Gym’ in Gurgaon, creating a larger wellness and fitness community was my next goal. A sense of being a part of community and belonging in your gym can prove to be an important asset for the business since this encourages members to come back and they are more likely to recommend the facility to others. Then over time, I started a health café at both my gyms. It goes with the name: 3andahalfcafe. It's not your next door café; it’s a café that serves healthy food with an aim to meet your daily requirement of protein and carbs. As a result, a lot of members start their day at our gym with a healthy breakfast or end their day after a hearty dinner that only ensures good health! This serves the dual purpose of providing people with healthy eating options and engraining fitness within our community which is like my lifelong goal today.

Q. ‘Morning jog’ or ‘night walk’, which according to you is more soothing for mind?

A. To be honest, there is no such thing as best one. It is dependent on the personal preference and the adaption of one’s body and mind. Both are equally good. Rather, what I would suggest is, jog whenever you want to but always jog with a clear mind. No worries, no pressure. Just going on and on. Also, an important point about ‘where to jog’, ensure to jog on muddy roads and never on concrete slabs. Muddy roads are very good for knees.

Q. If Ashishh is not working out, what is he doing?

I would mostly be ‘cooking & baking’. Since fitness is embodied in each fibre of my body I keep looking out for new recipes which are going to be healthy and low in carbs because I believe eating right is the main part of being fit and healthy. One may be able to work out amazingly well but without the right kind of food, it will never serve the purpose.

Q. What is dedication according to you and what would be the thought process towards achieving any goal.

A. It’s fairly simple: Write down your goals, work towards them in the day, dream about them at night and finally scratch them off the list when they are achieved.

Q. What according to you is the definition of ‘Being Fit’?

A. Being fit doesn’t have any specific definition. If you feel good about yourself and if you are happy in general, I feel you are fit. The problem is, people today are having a very wrong notion about being fit and social media is the culprit behind this notion. The biggest bane of social media is ‘vanity’, which showcases all people with chiselled body as fit. Sadly this is not the truth. Being in shape is great but just having abs does not mean one is fit.

Q. One fitness advice you would like to give everyone.

A. NEVER FOLLOW ANY DIET AND ANYONE BLINDLY. Body of each human being is different and so are the requirements to stay fit. What works for them, may harm you so never adopt anyone’s diet plan blindly just because it worked for them. You must focus on your body, ascertain your body needs, be focussed on being fit and rest will follow automatically.

Q. As per you, what is required to make a business successful?

A. I think it’s all about these four aspects: being dedicated, having a clear vision, ability to take risk and leading everyone with your leadership skill.

Q. What is the core factor of any venture?

A. Employees. There cannot be a second thought on this. They are the pillars of growth. They are the most important intangibles of the venture.

Q. Self-motivation comes from experience. Do you agree?

A. Nope. I believe it is the other way around. When you are motivated, you start exploring in that direction which ultimately leads to experience. You try, you fall, you rise and this is an iterative process throughout life. Over time each of your try, failure and success become your experience.

Q. We heard that you like horse riding and poetry. Being a health freak and an entrepreneur, how do you manage to take out time for these and is there any specific genre of poetry that you like?

A. Time is a relative thing. If you want to do something badly, you’ll somehow take out time for it or else you will find excuses. It’s all about what we want to prioritize. I have time for horse riding and poetry because I want to. I mostly prefer listening to Urdu poetry. The words carve out a feeling like no other language can. Presently, I don’t know to read Urdu so I’m having that on my to-do list.

Q. If you get a chance to go back in time and change something, what would that be?

A. Maybe not gain all that weight in my childhood. But then again I wouldn’t be where I am today without that.

Q. What if you have a magic wand in your hand, what is it that you would like to ask for?

A. Make carbs go away completely from all the good-yummy-tasty foods of the world. I need the taste without adding all those unnecessary calories. Just imagining this gives me such a good feeling.

Q. What is Heaven on Earth for you?

A. That would be: Sleeping for ten hours straight, waking up and having breakfast without any guilt and then either going back to sleep all over again or maybe take a dip in the pool or go for a tennis session or horse riding. All of this without getting any calls or messages from work. Complete break from everything. Wow…What a day that would be. Fact is, this idea of ‘Heaven on Earth’ changes as we grow in life so maybe I might have a different version of this tomorrow.

Q. Your biggest life lesson.

A. Always make sure you are surrounded by good-close friends and family. Life can be good by just having the right kind of people around you ;) It’s a treasure I cherish.

Q. Give one message to the youth of our country.

A. Never follow trends or fads just because everyone is doing so. Study them first, understand them and see how they affect your life and then adopt them. Don’t follow the herd blindly. If they go down, so will you. Be independent in your thought process and decision making.