“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep the mind strong and clear.” – Buddha
It’s not a pearl of secret wisdom that a healthy mind resides in a healthy body, yet not many people are making time for something as important as regular exercise. As important as physical exercise is for a healthy lifestyle, people find excuses to avoid it. Today, Startup Story Media will take you on the journey of a person who decided that it wasn’t fine to take health for granted.
It was four and a half years ago when a national boxing champion, triathlete and ultra-runner decided to bring his fitness mantra to the masses. Vijay Gaikwad started his venture Fitness First with a goal to make fitness accessible to all. As he went on, he soon realised that it wasn’t only human beings who ran the risk of getting sick – our planet ran a similar risk. So let’s know more about Fitness First and how it went green for the environment’s health.
Making Fitness Inclusive
Many have ventured on the same journey as Vijay, but what makes Fitnesss First different from the rest is their civic responsibility. Vijay explained, “we don’t just train athletes or sportspeople, but also regular people like housewives, businessmen, IAS, IPS officers. We have no criteria. Fitnesss First is for everyone and every age.”
Vrikshathon: An Inspirational Green Initiative
It was during a run with his friend when Vijay saw the roadside trees and was struck by the sad realization that even though people often plant the trees, they forget to care for them. Our responsibilities do not end after planting the sapling; trees need nourishment and care to grow, thought Vijay. It was then that he got the idea of “Vrikshathon” – the green marathon where every runner would be given a tree. But the story doesn’t end here – to make sure that all these runners actually cared for their saplings, Vijay gave them a little incentive.
They would grow their trees for a year and then the runner would share a picture of the tree labelled “before and after a year” to receive a free marathon registration. To secure sponsors for Vrikshathon, Vijay approached acquaintances and strangers alike. This new concept received a lot of praise and appreciation and it wasn’t long before the sponsors accepted this initiative as socially and commercially viable.
Vijay’s intention behind Vrikshathon was to incentivise people to care for trees. These trees will stand as a reminder of Vrikshathon for the runners and their future generations, instead of a medal or t-shirt which would fade with time. Today 1500 trees are cared for owing to Vrikshathon.
A Milestone to Cherish
Talking fondly about Vrikshathon as a milestone in his life, Vijay said to Startup Story Media, “I am proud of my team, their effort and support for Vrikshathon. As an athlete, I would like to thank all the people who understood this initiative and contributed to furthering this cause.”
The seed of Inspiration
Vijay shared a precious advice to Startup Story Media that It’s often one’s own experiences that bring in the lessons that we wish we had learned before. Vijay’s story and his journey is also a result of his experiences and observations. As he paid more attention to the environment, climate and lifestyle of people in general, he eventually determined to take concrete steps.
Hailing from a farming background, he allowed society to teach and inspire him. He holds all of humanity, including himself culpable for degrading earth’s environment. In his native place, Vijay saw the growing unpredictability of weather, which can be detrimental to farmers. “As a farmer, I don’t want the mistakes I have done to be repeated in the future,” said Vijay.
During his time at a corporate Vijay witnessed the busy and unhealthy lifestyle that people lead, which often results in the erosion of their talent. He spoke to the CEO of his company and started a one-hour fitness program on the company premises to combat this issue. People would come and workout with different workouts provided to them along with fitness and wellness training. This initiative brought a change in the employee’s behaviour; they even attended their meetings standing up to fortify their health. And henceforth the love for fitness became the journey towards its attainment.
The Founder’s Message to the World
When Startup Story Media asked Vijay for a learning that he would like to convey, Vijay emphasized strongly about the ecological concerns, Vijay says that human beings should first focus on the environment and second on their physical and mental health in today’s era.
“If you are physically and mentally strong, you can achieve anything.”