Fitness coach Mehak Kapoor aced her Independence Day marathon run in Gurgaon, and what added to the glory was that she did it wearing a saree. Igniting an integral chapter around both, women’s health and the right to choose, Kapoor is now extending the conversation through her endeavours as a marathon runner and coach.
In a candid conversation with SheThePeople, Mehak Kapoor talks about her experience of running the roads in a saree, women’s health and what it takes to embrace one’s self.
Running In A Saree
Speaking about how Kapoor came up with the revolutionary idea, she said, “We have a volunteer-running community in Gurgaon, and it has around 500 members. It’s been more than five years and we organise three group runs every week. So, on August 15, we came up with the idea that one should need shorts or sports attire to run. You can have your national costume and you can run in that promoting national sentiments as well as promoting fitness.”
Further sharing the story of how the whole thing became a reality, the runner says, “In our traditions, people used to wear dhotis and do workouts. Women used to wear their traditional wear and do workouts. So, we all ran in a saree, men ran in their kurta, dhoti, pyjama, or whatever they were comfortable with. And we ran around five kilometres. We wanted to promote our national costume while promoting fitness at the same time.”
Sharing the difficulties they faced during the run, Kapoor said, “Saree is not comfortable because we are not used to wearing it. It is no longer a common attire as it used to be a few decades ago. If you’re used to wearing something you would be very comfortable running in that as well. That is one of the things and the second thing is when we are running in a Sari, we need to be comfortable with the costume as we need to know exactly it needs to be held so that our legs have as much space.”
‘Not The First Saree Run’
Elaborating on how this was not a new idea but important she shared instances where women have run in a saree before. Kapoor recollected, “There have been cases in Mumbai marathon where women ran in a Kolapuri Saree. This was our second group run as well. Last year also we did the same group run in a saree. So it’s not the first time but
it’s very rare.”
Celebrating Women & Their Health
The fitness coach shared that ‘Women & Their Health’ has been a huge inspiration behind organising this event. She said, “We wanted to celebrate women. And therefore the event is on August 15. We wanted to create a conversation around freedom of choice, i.e., if we have to run wearing shorts or a saree, it’s our choice. This is what freedom means to us as women.”
Furthermore, sharing her personal experience about health, she said, “I’m a mother of two children. I began my fitness journey around eight years back. I suffered from lower back pain, which usually women get after childbirth. And when my second child was born, I couldn’t lift him up. That hit me very hard. I mean I should be able to lift my child up in my lap.”
“It was that day and it’s today, I can lift my 13-year-old daughter. No matter the age, I should be able to lift my kids.”
I feel women need to, as mothers, take care of themselves so that they can take care of their children. A woman’s health is very important considering the social setup that we have. The entire house comes to a standstill if the woman of the house is not well.
Encouraging Women To Stay Fit
As a fitness coach, Kapoor aims to inspire every woman in her vicinity to focus on health. Elaborating on that, She said, “I have a wellness centre where my clientele is mostly women. Fitness is beyond fitness. One is you are injury, illness-free. And one is you are healthy. Women should come out of their houses, take care of their health, whether they want to run, do Pilates or strength training, just come out and spend that 45 minutes to one hour on your health and fitness.”
Kapoor Shares Her Journey
Talking about why she picked to stay fit and then inspire several others by becoming a fitness coach, Kapoor said, “I sought inspiration from the drawbacks that a woman goes through the hardships of life health-wise. If your health is not fine, apart from doing all the household work, you will not be able to work properly in your career as well. So health is the prima fascia of anything. I wanted to spread this process of thought.”
“Marathon is a distance called 42.2 kilometres. I started running in 2014. And it’s been almost nine years now since I began my fitness and running journey.”
Fighting Mental Illness Through Physical Exercise
Sharing the importance of exercise on one’s mental being and how it can have a long-term effect, Kapoor said, “It’s very important for everybody and especially for women to take the time off. And the reason is that even if you take out 15 minutes it is going to show up in your positive attitude, and health. It is going to show up in the overall happiness of an individual. It improves your confidence to a huge level.”
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