Women leaders in the health and wellness industry about their perspective on beauty and debunking unrealistic expectations.

A guide to being comfortable in your own body.

Harper's Bazaar India

Working in the health and wellness industry can be demanding, both physically and mentally. Women in this field often find themselves putting their clients’ needs before their own, which can lead to burnout and exhaustion. We interview leading women entrepreneurs on how they prioritise self-care and recharge their batteries so that they can be better equipped to help others. By sharing their own self-care routines and strategies, through their personal experience and professional expertise, we explore the balanced approach towards nutrition, fitness, and selfcare.

Rhea Nihal Singh, Co-Founder at Flexnest

“Having grown up in a supportive environment, I’ve always had a positive outlook and appreciated my body. Fitness has been a way for me to connect with my body, feel good, and stay healthy rather than trying to change how I look. I believe it’s all about feeling strong and confident, and I want to share that positivity with others through Flexnest,” says Rhea who co-founded Flexnest, a connected-fitness venture in 2021. Rhea’s love for fitness evolved through a combination of personal experiences and a passion for helping others. She started working out to feel stronger. “As I started exploring different forms of exercise, I discovered the positive impact it had not only on my physical health but also on my mental wellbeing. 

The sense of accomplishment and the endorphin rush after a workout became addictive and I realised that fitness was not just a means to an end but a journey of self discovery and growth,” says the 29-year-old. After witnessing the transformative power of fitness in her life, she felt compelled to share this experience with others. It led her to combine her love for fitness with technology, ultimately founding a venture to make fitness accessible, enjoyable and empowering for people across the country. “Being a founder of a fitness company, incorporating a work routine is definitely a juggling act. I believe finding balance is key—I make self care a nonnegotiable part of my day. I schedule regular workouts and ensure that my diet is balanced and I set boundaries for work and personal time.  It’s not always easy, but staying fit and healthy keeps me motivated and on top of my game both in business and in my personal life,” says Rhea. Flexnest aims to create a supportive and inclusive community—shifting the focus  from unrealistic beauty and fitness standards to overall health and well-being. 

Dr. Geetika Mittal Gupta, Founder & Medical Director, ISAAC Luxe & SkinbyDrG 

“Learning, experimenting, and discovering what works for me has been a journey. This evolution towards self-care has made all the difference, not just in how my skin looks but, more importantly, in how I feel about myself. When it comes to beauty, we often focus on fixing those pesky wrinkles, fine lines, and other visible signs of ageing. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look our best, I strongly believe that we should not have benchmarks that we adhere to—healthy ageing is the key,” says Geetika Mittal Gupta, who founded ISAAC Luxe in 2010 and SkinbyDrG in 2020. “Skin is the largest organ of the body which shows effects of internal as well as external stresses, therefore, it’s important to look and feel good in your skin!,” adds the 40-year-old. As an expert in non-surgical anti-aging treatments, Geetika aims to address the root causes of ageing. “There’s no shame in wanting to age gracefully and embrace our journey...I have always believed in the power of consistency and discipline. While interacting with patients, I encourage them to embrace their unique skin journey and advise them to not get influenced by social media trends and never imitate someone else’s skincare routine,” she says. 

Geetika says that the skincare industry has surged in popularity in the past few years and has given way to unrealistic beauty standards that are cropping up everywhere. “The culture of filters has settled expectations beyond is something that pushes people to get into the toxic culture of unrealistic beauty standards,” she says. Geetika believes in celebrating authenticity and inclusivity. “True beauty isn’t about conforming to cookie-cutter ideals; it’s about embracing our unique features and quirks that make us who we are,” says Geetika who aims to inspire a wave of self-love and empowerment among women through her profession. “As a cosmetologist, I see my role as a catalyst for boosting confidence and promoting self-acceptance. I want every woman I interact with to leave my care feeling unapologetically herself. Beauty for me is a journey—it involves good sleep, happy fulfilling relationships, meditation, nourishing food, skin care and then treatments, only if there’s a need,” she signs off. 

Namrata Purohit, Co-Owner of The Pilates Studio 

“My journey with Pilates started because I fell off a horse and injured my knee. I tried everything to ease the pain but when I tried Pilates with my father after almost a year—I was finally pain free! That’s when I realised the benefits of Pilates and decided to pursue and take it further,” says Namrata Purohit, who co-founded The Pilates Studio with her father. “My father and my goal was to have people experience Pilates in its true form so that they can benefit from the exercise and feel the magic,” says the 30-year-old. Namrata says once someone starts doing Pilates, they learn how amazing their body is and they begin to embrace and appreciate it at every stage of their fitness journey. “I believe what is extremely crucial to understand is that everyone has a different body type, lifestyle, different goals and needs. It is imperative that we don’t compare ourselves or our journey with anyone else because our journey is our own,” says Namrata. The Pilates Studio has branches across 15 states including Delhi, Bengaluru, Jaipur, and Kolkata. Namrata says that today people have become more accepting and less judgemental about others and themselves. “While they want to be healthy—I have fewer people come to me today who say that they want to be ‘thin’ or ‘skinny’ and are more concerned about being healthy and fit, and that’s great progress!” she adds. 

Deanne Pandey, Indian Wellness Coach and Author 

“I developed a love for fitness at a very early age of 14 when I discovered Jane Fonda workout videos, especially 
the workout challenge. Yoga and meditation always kept me centred and grounded which is why my relationship with my body has always been a healthy and a mindful one,” says wellness coach and author, Deanne Pandey.  “I make sure to surround myself with joy that comes from simple things like sunsets, barefoot walking, and moon bathing. I honed the art of slowing down and being productive so that I could give my body the love and self care it requires,” says the 54-year-old.

Deanne firmly believes that one should not compare themselves to others and should instead invest in activities that make us feel good. “We should erase the negative self-talk and appreciate the marvellous things our bodies are capable of. However, I feel that due to the prevalence of social media, people are obsessing over various diets and workout routines and barely paying attention to their soul and mind!,” says the author of Shut Up and Train!: A Complete Fitness Guide for Men and Women. Wellness, she says, is a broad spectrum and it definitely does not stop with the food on your plate or the time you spend working out. “I believe society has put a lot of value on our outward appearances that can make it extremely hard for us to prioritise what’s on the inside. I want to influence people to choose their bodies, help them practise positive self-talk, and stop comparing their bodies to others and gain confidence,” says Deanne.

As a wellness coach, Deanne suggests people consider their personal beliefs that may be holding them back, such as guilt about taking time out for themselves. “I also suggest people find something which they like to do as you’re more likely to stick with it if you choose an activity you enjoy rather than doing it because it’s ‘good for you’.” Deanne says a lot has changed in the fitness industry in the past 40 years—from no gym spaces and yoga being considered only for the old to women lifting weights; from no mobile phones to technology which helps us customise workout plans...we have come a long way.”

Sumaya Dalmia, Founder at SUMAYA (Premium Health Clubs)

“I am addicted to the trickle of sweat!,” says Sumaya Dalmia, Founder, SUMAYA, a chain of premium health clubs in cities such as New Delhi, Gurugram, and Mumbai. “I’ve been on the field all my life—I was a national level athlete and a swimmer. But even though I played a lot of sports, I was never lean. Especially in my teens I often wondered why other girls were thinner than me even though they barely played any sports...and here I was, on the field for at least two to three hours a day. Those were the only times when I questioned my body and it took me a couple of years to get comfortable in my skin and be positive,” says the 45-year-old. “Social Media I believe, has a bright and a dark’s emotionally sad to see how it’s forcing us to aim for a body that we don’t genetically have, but on the other hand it’s pleasant to see how inclusive social media is in terms of the visibility of women with heavier bodies and influencers who are not size zero,” says Sumaya who founded her first health club in Delhi. “I think one has to get comfortable in one’s own skin because nobody can really dictate how you feel. I want women to feel that being fit is the new sexy, and we should accept whatever comes with it—be it a bit of muscle, bulk or anything else. It doesn’t matter, as long as, you know you’re doing your best and taking out time for workouts, eating well and getting sufficient sleep.”