Interview by: Madhura K
Lifestyle corrections and following a good fitness regime is a need of the hour. They say that the only malady of the future is going to be obesity while the medical science is going to deal with the rest! Having worked with an excellent fitness coach in Sai Tapikar who’s based in Pune, India, I wanted to understand more about her fitness journey and how she manages to be a one-stop-shop coach for cardio, weight training, functional training, Zumba, and so much more. Working out with Sai never gets boring.
Sai, how did your journey to being a fitness coach begin?
I started my career as a fitness coach back in 2004. After completing my high school, I began going to the gym. I wasn’t too serious about gym workouts back then, but I was always an exercise freak. I enjoyed dancing. I became a trained kathak dancer and then also learnt to groove to bollywood tunes. Thought of becoming a professional fitness coach started seeping in, but I also wanted to complete college. I finished my graduation and also post-graduation in Sociology and pursued a fitness coach certification course from a prestigious college in Pune. I always wanted to do something different for a career that could serve both as a job and as a public service. Fitness coaching was my calling.
I went on to complete a Post Gradate Diploma in Fitness Management. Pursuing parallel degrees was tough. I would finish my sociology classes between 7 am and 12 pm and then attend diploma college between 1pm to 9 pm. My passion for fitness made this difficult journey easy. Between, I also took a job in a gym and continued to work as a trainer for the next 6 years.
I joined American fitness brand Anytime Fitness and worked directly under Bollywood action hero, Sunil Shetty. While at Sunil Shetty’s gym, I grew from being a trainer to a floor manager. I happened to also work at Pune’s most popular gyms. These job stints taught me a lot about body composition, nutrition, workout planning and more. This was just a beginning. As I learnt more, my hunger for more knowledge in the field grew and I went on the pursue trainings in,
Personal Training certification
So that’s how my career in fitness industry took a natural progression.
We heard you’ve trained Bollywood celebrities. Is that true?
Yes. That is true. After 14 years of experience in the industry, I have gained some recognition in the fitness world. People have seen the results with my coaching. Mouth publicity helped and one celebrity approached me herself. She was impressed with the variety of workouts I offered that broke the monotony of workouts for her. She attained her fitness goal and then recommended me to more of her colleagues.
Are celebrity workouts different?
Yes. Typically, in my observation, celebrities have a better fitness level than a layperson. I have to device a high intensity weight training and workout plans for them. Moreover, their workout timings keep changing to suit their busy schedules. Besides, their health goals keep changing as per the project they are working on. So yes, celebrity workouts have to be planned and executed differently!
Since we are a women-oriented website, this question is on behalf of all women. Women, especially in India, make a lot of excuses for not working out. What would you say to them?
As far as exercising is concerned, many women in general in our country are pretty lazy. Some social media publicity has started rolling the ball for some women to turn towards fitness, think of size zero, get gym memberships etc, but the ratio is still very small.
I would like to appeal all our women that if you want to continue looking young and fresh, if you want to avoid all the joint pains and the maladies that come with aging, and reverse the aging and preserve your muscles and bones, you must do some amount of weight training. To improve your endurance and stamina, you must do cardio at least thrice a week. After every workout, you must also do some amount of stretching to relax your muscles and improve flexibility.
Don’t run behind a certain size! Improve your strength! Don’t follow internet crash diets, eat a wholesome meal or consult a dietitian. We all deserve to remain healthy and hearty! And it takes just 21 days to change a habit! So, start working out. Make it your habit!
Is age a factor for workouts?
Not at all. No matter of what age you are, 30,40, 50, 60,70 or even 80, a person of any age group can do weights and cardio. It’s all in the mind. You can become fitter version of yourself at any given point in life. Follow a regular exercise pattern. Don’t sit at one place for more than 30 minutes. Keep moving. Age is no bar. Consistency is! Be consistent in whatever you do. Of course, consult your doctor and a fitness coach before starting.
How important is diet?
There’s no doubt diet is extremely important too. If you workout a lot but have no control on your tongue, you will never see the desired results. Don’t go extremes, but follow a good nutritional habit. Cheat here and there to not feel deprived. Consult a good nutritionist for that matter. Don’t follow internet diet fads.
I’ve observed this a lot with corporate employees. Especially, those working in the IT sector. They sit at a place for 8-10 hours with minimal body movement, their stress levels are high, sugar cravings hence are high and they hog on whatever they can grab their hands on. If you are among this crowd, you must stop eating junk food. The food that is seemingly healthy like the soya sticks, nachni sticks, are not healthy. Avoid eating bakery product. Stop consuming too much tea, coffee, or sodas. Eat your dinner as early as possible.
How do you design your workouts for your patrons?
Every person has a different stamina, strength and body type. There are broadly three body types,
Endomorphs: Appear big, have high body fat, often pear-shaped and have tendency to store fats.
Ectomorphs: Are lean and long and have difficulty in building muscles.
Mesomorphs: Are muscular and well-built and are blessed with high metabolism.
Diet and workouts are designed per individual body type, strength and stamina. More than anything, I make it a point to make the workouts interesting. Try to bring variations so exercise doesn’t become boring. Like alternate between functional trainings and introduce ladder workouts, work on upper body, work on kick boxing, work on weights, work with kettlebells, do Zumba or pilates. This way, motivation remains high and people come clueless and with a great enthusiasm to open the cookie jar. (pun intended!)
Can you share a success story with your client that could motivate our readers?
Most certainly. One of my clients is an 80year old man. He’s suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He was almost bed ridden for quite some time. I devised a weight training program for him started with small weights. He has managed to gain a lot of control on his shaky hands and legs. He’s now even able to walk, climb stairs. He is my biggest success story so far.
Can you recommend a fitness regime for our readers considering they are absolute beginners?
Sure. Begin with a 15minute warm-up.
Roll your neck up-down
Do shoulder rotation
30 second plank
Whole body Workout:
Squats – 10 Reps
Lunges – 10 Reps
Push-ups – 10 Reps
Wide Squats -10 Reps
Mountain climbing – 10 Reps
Seated Row -10 Reps
Chest press – 10 Reps
Shoulder press – 10 Reps
Triceps push-down – 10 Reps
Crunches – 10×2
Leg raises – 10×2
Hip bridge – 20 seconds hold
Naukasan – 20 seconds hold (yoga form)
Lower back stretch
Bhujangasan (yoga form)
Dhanurasan (yoga form)
Womendiaries wishes Sai and her clients success and a healthy journey ahead and thank her for this wonderful interview. Hope you are inspired to begin your workouts. If you ae in Pune and wish to be coached by Sai, feel free to write to her at