Sucheta Pal is a famous Zumba fitness trainer, who at one one point of time was stuck in a stressful job. Here Sucheta Pal shares her inspirational journey from being in a stressful 9-to-9 job to becoming a master Zumba fitness trainer, known across Asia for spreading the dance fitness programme.
Sucheta Pal Biography
The ZES (Zumba Education Specialist), who started her career out an electronic engineer was once fighting depression, induced by work related stress.
I was an average 25-year-old living in Mumbai with a stressful 9 to 9 job – nothing out of the ordinary. I wanted happiness. And my job was doing the opposite of that (a story typical of so many in the corporate world).
Unable to take it any further, Pal quit her job, and set out pursuing what she loved, which was dancing. However, Pal didn’t tell her parents for obvious reasons.
“I went from earning Rs 30,000 to Rs 5,000 from three jobs,” she says. Pal took classes at the Danceworx academy, transcribed cassettes and managed a small fashion house. Working for an NGO, she’d also travel across the city to talk to school principals about the importance of speaking in and teaching English to students. “It wasn’t easy. I’d eat vada pao for meals and travel as cheaply as possible. But it didn’t matter. I was happier, at least.”
I discovered a new-found respect for struggling dancers who use the cheapest means to get to different parts of the city to teach and follow their passion.
“It is not worth being a coward. If you have been given a life, go after it with purpose,” she says, speaking about the can-do attitude that saw her through. “You are a cosmic blink in the universe, don’t take yourself so seriously.”
Coming Face to Face With Zumba in the US
In 2009, Pal and her husband shifted to the US where she discovered Zumba by chance and realised that she had finally found her calling. Sucheta knew that this would propel her to do bigger things.
“The format of the programme matched my principles. It was about inspiring people, about feeling happy,” she says. Once she took to Zumba, Pal didn’t look back. “I was no longer depressed, there were no panic attacks, instead I started feeling confident (especially as I got fitter) and happy.”
Pal didn’t stop at Zumba; she also took other dance workout certification courses, such as Masala Bhangra and Insanity.
— Sucheta Pal (@SuchetaPalZumba) January 29, 2017
Coming Back to India
“Zumba had already entered India, and people didn’t respond well to the fact that a certified ZES from outside was trying to take over the market,” says Pal.
Although, she was not prepared for the negativity she initially faced, she took it in her stride. This time Sucheta Pal was more confident, knowing that she had been through far worse.
“All I could do was let my work speak for itself.”
Pal finally got her first break at a training session in Pune when a booked instructor from Romania failed to show up after she couldn’t get her visa.
Zumba Empowers People
One great thing about fitness programmes like Zumba is that it promotes empowerment.
She cites an example: “Two Gujarati ladies once came for training, and admitted that they had to fight with their husbands to give them the money [Rs 16,000]. When I spoke to them, their first reaction was that of surprise because they didn’t expect me to be as ‘ordinary’ as they were. Now, they are instructors earning their own money. Having observed their journey from start to finish gives me immense satisfaction.”
“There are corporate goers who have quit their full-time jobs to teach Zumba and other fitness programmes. They are earning five times the money they were, and are happy,” she says.
Today, Pal has trained thousands of trainers (in Zumba fitness programme), has countless classes and followers, and features in several television programmes. Pal loves the fact that it isn’t lonely at the top when it comes to the Zumba community.
If you’re nice to people on your way up, you figure out how to network well, you’re never alone.
Once she had her ZES certification, she began making plans to introduce the programme in India upon her return.
In spite of her busy schedule, Pal claims to respond to every message or email within 24 hours. “It’s the value system the programme has imbibed in us. It’s about the community and our students first,” says sucheta Pal.
Sucheta Pal Zumba Videos
“Dance has grown in this country, thanks to visionaries like Shiamak Davar, Ashley Lobo and Remo D’Souza. Television has glamourised it. We have paved the path for ourselves and our children to translate passion into a successful career that gives us bliss instead of just earning money.”