International Women’s Day Interview: Aarti Pandey, Co-founder, Folk Fitness


International Women’s
Day 2018 Special Interview Series

Name: Aarti Pandey

Age: 36

City: Pune, India

Occupation: Co-founder, Folk Fitness

Aarti Pandey, the ‘Mind’ of Folk Fitness took
inspiration from India’s rich cultural heritage and her love for fitness and
channelled it further to launch a series of entrepreneurial ventures, Folk
Fitness being one of them. The thought behind Folk Fitness, was to bring forth
a fitness regimen which can be relatable to all age groups, which would
eventually lead to a movement to make India a fitter country. Being a woman
entrepreneur, Aarti perceives Folk Fitness as a strong platform for young
girls, working women, home makers, fitness enthusiasts and aspiring fitness
trainers irrespective of gender, age and region. Folk Fitness, now, has over
700+ fitness trainers across 18 tier I and tier II cities in India with
presence in Australia. Folk Fitness
family is ecstatic to have incorporated 2 transgender trainers and 1
differently abled trainer.
Though Folk Fitness is her baby, Aarti
started her journey with Bharatnatyam, to gain knowledge of one of India’s most
prominent classical dance form, which laid a solid foundation for Aarti to set
up one of Pune’s premier Dance Academy, DDLL in 2010. This venture turned out
to be extremely successful and prompted Aarti to launch Fiber Fitness Services Pvt. Ltd in 2013.
Besides Bharatnatyam, Aarti has undertaken training on various other Indian
folk dances under the expert guidance of Late Indumati Lele and has also
represented Maharashtra and India at many national level and international
dance competitions. 
Aarti also received training in Latin
American dance styles post which she started training other dance enthusiasts
and currently has over 20,000 + hours of dance fitness teaching experience. Her
accomplishments do not end her. She has an MBA degree in Sales and Marketing,
from the prestigious Welingkar Institute of Management with an experience of 6 years in the
corporate world. She is a true example on striking the right balance between
work and family life, being a successful entrepreneur and mother of two young

ST: Who is a woman that inspires you the most and why?

Aarti: This might sound cliched, but my mom has always
inspired me the most. She came from a small town to Mumbai and having learned
in the vernacular medium, had a tough time adjusting to the whims of the dream
city. She was very progressive about us siblings though. She always supported
and promoted us to the right channels. She always went all out to helping us in
all the possible manners and thus we resulted into who we are today. She runs a
social organisation named “Akhil Bharatiya Agnishikha Manch” through which she
has helped over 1000 women who have suffered from domestic violence. This work
of hers has inspired me to provide a platform for women to venture into fitness
entrepreneurship and empower them through it.  

ST: How are you celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day?

Aarti: Thus year, I have a really-packed schedule. I will be
doing a Folk Fitness session in the morning. I have been invited by National Human
Resource Development Network (NHRDN) to speak about “Myth-busters in Fitness”
where the women community in the Human Resource Network will be present in
large numbers. I have been nominated for “Nari Shakti Awards” which are being
announced in the evening of International Women’s Day.

ST: What is the most important message you want to send out to all the
women around the world on this occasion?

Aarti: I want all the women to take a pledge to support the
fellow women around. The tag of us being just the gossipers, should whirl away.
We should support, encourage, appreciate and acknowledge the women around us who
are doing an excellent job.

ST: What according to you is ‘women empowerment’?

Aarti: In today’s world, the word ‘empowerment’ is really
abused. For me the word means that if a person wants to do something, they
should be able to communicate this to others in a positive manner. True
empowerment is when you go out there and make the things happen which you
really wish to do.

ST: What would you say are the main challenges facing women at present
in India?  

Aarti: More than men today, women are their own enemies. I
feel that women face more challenges at their own homes. It is a big and tiring
transition from being a daughter to be a daughter in law to again being a
daughter. I think women should come together and start supporting other women
to overcome this challenge. The second challenge that women face today is that
they are not physically and mentally fit to take care of themselves, which is
why security and safety issues are creeping up. If they are physically fit
themselves, they won’t be facing the similar problems and will start taking a
stand for themselves. They should start giving themselves the gift of
“ME-time”. 45 minutes of Me-time daily will help boost their self-confidence. A
fit woman in the family, makes the whole family fit.

ST: Where do you want to see yourself in next 5 years?

Aarti: I want to
reach out to women on a pan-India basis. I have vowed to provide women with a
platform to venture into Fitness Entrepreneurship. I want to incorporate more
than 1,00,000 trainers across India, in the next 5 years. I want to keep on
inspiring and empowering women while making them physically and mentally fit. I
want to reach out to the corporate structure in India, to make the workplaces a
fit and happy environment. I want to help transform the nation and I will strive
hard to make that happen.

Aarti Pandey, Co-founder, Folk Fitness

(This interview is a
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