At BrilliantRead Media, we always strive to bring meaningful and powerful stories from India and around the world to empower and motivate our growing community. As part of this endeavour, we invited yet another passionate Entrepreneur and Fitness Coach Dr Priyanka Popli for an exclusive interview with us. She is a Health Coach, Fitness Trainer, Influencer, Consultant, Mentor and Change Enabler. Dr Priyanka is the Founder of Tone House. Let’s learn more about her incredible journey, her background, and her advice for our growing community!
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Dr Priyanka:
Talk us through your background and your journey, please;
My professional journey has been very different from the education I received, and yet, is somewhere similar as I always wanted to work in the health sector.
I’m a qualified dentist, and after my bachelor’s in dental surgery, I worked under the guidance of some wonderful mentors.
At the age of 35, after my second child, I decided to follow my passion and started Tone House, a fitness studio in Gurgaon, that deals with women and their fitness needs. Since then, we have worked with big names like Radio Mirchi and Decathlon, and have been featured across media.
From its humble beginnings, today Tone House has slowly but surely made its mark amongst the women of Gurgaon.
How did you discover your passion in ‘Fitness Training’?
It’s actually a very funny story. I had gained a lot of weight after my second child, and that is when I decided that enough was enough. I took my daughter for a dance class trial, and I saw an aerobics class happening.
I was so determined to get fit, I took off my slippers, and started with the class bare feet. I still remember the exhilarating feeling working out gave me.”
I wanted to experience it every day, I wanted others to experience it, and that is when I decided to follow my passion.
How do you manage to keep going despite the challenges? What drives you?
My journey has been full of challenges. It’s not easy starting your fitness journey at 35. This profession is full of young blood. Plus it was a male-dominated industry when I started.
Along with that, there have been injuries, I have had 2 major surgeries in these years, I’ve even ended up on a ventilator!
One thing that’s driven me always, is the vibe of my Tone House family. My team, my members, they have been there with me through thick and thin. Their appreciation, their applause, their encouragement keeps me going, and I try to do the same for them. So much so that we call it ‘the Tone House tribe’.
At Tone House, fitness is not about weight. It’s not about losing inches for an upcoming celebration. Fitness is a lifestyle, it’s something that you do every day, like charging your phone. And yes, we try to make it fun. I take pride in my team, which tries to make each class their best class ever.”
Please share with us a unique challenge you faced in your early career?
It was the year 2017, I had just changed professions, and was really enjoying fitness, and just being active. I had started Tone House and was in love with what I was doing. Plus I was getting a great response. Things couldn’t have been better.
I had to be hospitalized for a small laparoscopic procedure, a 1-night hospitalization, and it was supposed to be nothing. Things got really messy during that surgery and when I came back to senses, I was on a ventilator. My first reaction was to pull away from all the pipes. I was shocked beyond belief! Gradually the consequences started dawning upon me, personal as well as professional.
I run a fitness studio, I need to be active all the time. Tone House was my baby. I had just started. I would lose it all. And then I had another major surgery 10 months later, an intestinal obstruction removal this time.
In retrospect now, I think of these events as something that made me stronger, more determined. But it was a very tough time. I was not just about to lose my work, but also the identity that I had managed to build with so much hard work.”
But I have been blessed with wonderful family and friends, who stood by me through everything, and today I take pride in what Tone House has achieved.
Who do you believe has been the biggest source of motivation in your daily life?
Definitely, my family who has pushed me every single day.
They are the reason I’ve been able to take this leap of faith from dentistry to fitness. Their love has kept me smiling, shining, and warm. Whenever I’ve faced a challenge, they have been very supportive. My family and friends are definitely my pillars.
I generally get inspired by strong women. Powerful women, from my mother, my mother in law and my daughter to famous women like Priyanka Chopra, to Saina Nehwal to Greta Thunberg, they all inspire me. How their little actions are changing lives, not just their own, but for so many more.”
What are some of the strategies that you believe have helped you grow as a person?
(1) The most important strategy I believe is to be true, not just to yourself, but to your profession, to your clients. I’ve no shame in saying that I’ve been through cycles of keto diets, intermittent fasting, and body shaming. But that is how I know that there’s no shortcut to good health.
(2) Taking criticism positively. I believe that if a person gives you negative feedback, that person is helping you even more than the one who’s giving you a positive one because that person is helping you and your business grow into a better model. Always take suggestions, and work on them as far as practical.
(3) Respect your team. A good leader is nothing without her team. If you want to lead a successful business, you should value your team and their needs.
(4) Providing your members value for their time & money. When someone trusts you, especially with their time and health, it’s important that you make it worth their while.
You are always positive and motivated, what keeps you going?
My motivation comes from learning. I may have ventured into fitness late, but my medical background helps me understand the body’s anatomy and physiology in depth.
The yearning to learn new skills, the desire to master my existing skills, and in general, to make fitness enjoyable and fun, is what keeps me going.”
Most importantly, when I see my clients having a jubilant moment and I get the privilege of witnessing their goals through me, it’s the most powerful stimulant I can imagine.
Please share with us – what has worked well for you so far?
In one word, honesty. I try to be honest in my work, I try to give 100% to every single member at Tone House. I’ve become busier, I’m not able to connect with as many members as I could initially.. but whenever I take a session, I try to give it my best. I try to make it worth your time and effort. I make sure you are moving healthily towards your goals. And I would never recommend something to you that I wouldn’t take myself.
I strongly believe there’s only one way to success.. honesty in whatever you do. As health coaches, we are like doctors. We are working on the human body. We can’t play trials and tricks with it.”
Don’t offer harmful shortcuts, explain what is right, and work with your client towards achieving their goals in the right way. I’m proud to say that Tone House is a tribe. My members have been with me since day 1. And it is only because we don’t believe in beating around the bush. You can’t expect loyalty when you can’t provide honesty. And that is my only mantra.
In your opinion, what are the keys to success?
Most importantly, being true to your cause and profession. There’s a reason you are into what you’re doing, if you don’t like it, change it. But if you are committed to a profession, give in your 100%. Remember why you started.
This also holds true for fitness. If you’ve started your journey, it must have been for a reason. You may falter, you may lax, but always remember why you started, and come back stronger. Let your goals be bigger than your excuses.
Last but not the least, why do you work only with women?
I work only with women and their fitness needs because I think women have a myriad of reasons to start their fitness journey, except the right ones. They want to lose weight, they want to make their husbands happy, they want to look toned, they want to fit into a dress, which are all absolutely great reasons, but shouldn’t be the only ones.
The only reason I was able to come back from the ventilator was because I had started my fitness journey, and I was strong inside. Life is full of ups and downs, and one thing that supports us through all is our body. It’s important to give our bodies the time and health they deserve. In so many cultures, taking care of ourselves is still considered selfish.
Taking out 1 hour for yourself, prepping your meals in advance, refusing packaged foods, taking out ‘me time’ for your mental health. These are little lifestyle changes that go a long way in making you strong and healthy.