At 6.25pm, as their colleagues switch off their computers and head home, Shruti Sundaraman and Pooja Nikam leave their desks and head to a gym near their Lower Parel office for a one-hour cardio workout.
Come rain or shine, heavy workdays or light, their workout hour is sacrosanct.
On days when they need to work late, the corporate communications executives stick to their gym routine and return to office rather than risk a day without it.
Sundaraman, 24, a trained Bharatanatyam dancer, first became concerned about her fitness when she noticed that her long hours and sedentary life were making her put on
weight. In July 2010, she joined a gym near her Matunga home, but went there three times in the three-month membership period.
“It was just so boring to work out alone,” she said.
Next, she signed up for an evening dance class. “I thought if the gym didn’t excite me, maybe this would,” she said.
Between her early mornings and late nights, she ended up skipping dance class too, and finally quit in April. In the next three months, she put on four kg.
“For someone who has always had a toned body, it was as a big blow,” said she. “I was becoming seriously concerned.”
In June, Sundaraman switched jobs and noticed Nikam, 28, leaving for the gym each evening with an office buddy.
“A few weeks after I joined, her workout buddy quit,” she said, laughing. “We’ve been working out together ever since. Five times a week. No excuses.”
For Sundaraman, working out with an office buddy keeps her disciplined and motivated, she said, especially since she has struggled in the past to juggle work and fitness.
It works equally well for Nikam. “On days when I’m feeling lazy and would have skipped the workout, Shruti gets me to the gym,” she said. “She has this way of talking about burning calories that just gets me to that treadmill.”
Both women are in their 20s, which is the perfect time to shape up, says fitness expert Deepali Jain. “As you hit your 30s, your metabolism rate slows down and it’s a good thing if you already have a fitness regimen in place by then.”
Sundaraman and Nikam are also watching each other’s diets, making sure they always have plenty of fruits and nuts to snack on. Their dietary habits, in fact, are raising the fitness bar for others at their workplace, and some colleagues have started avoiding fried snacks, instead munching on apples and diet chivda.
“The duo — and anyone who joins them — is likely to succeed in their fitness goals because they can discuss exercises and share food tips with each other,” said health guru Mickey Mehta.
Nikam hopes the experts are right. “I began putting on weight when I hit 25. My waist spread out by five inches and I put on five kilos,” she said. “What triggered my disciplined gym routine was a friend’s comment — that I was a perfect example of going from X to XL. That’s when I knew that it was time to shape up.”