When the 12th standard student enrolled himself at Mauli Mandal, the local gym in Thane, he wanted a body like Salman Khan or Suniel Shetty.
At Rs 20 a month, it was an affordable dream. And Mayur Kadam had a lot of free time those days because he was "never interested in studies". But somehow he got through each exam.
He always had a lean frame and when muscles developed, he got an offer from a local gym called Galaxy, one of the best in Thane. "It was a part-time job and I learnt a lot. I started buying muscle magazines and taking my job seriously," said Kadam (26). But his father, a crane operator, did not care much for his son's newfound interest. "He was ashamed to say that I was a trainer at a gym when his friends asked him what I was doing. My mother was very supportive."
He wanted to work with Talwalkar's Thane branch but they did not have any vacancy. He was earning around Rs 7,000 a month but was "not happy". So, when Gold Gym launched in Bandra, Kadam borrowed Rs 50 from a friend so he can put petrol in his Hero Honda and photocopy his certificates. "I told them I would do my best if given a chance. But the interviewers pointed out that I was not a certified trainer," he said.
He did a three-month certificate course in fitness training from an institution called K11 in Santacruz and went back to the people who interviewed him. "This time, I was selected," he said.
But then, he had already put an end to his BCom to concentrate on his career. "Rs 5,000 a month was less than what I was already earning but I did not mind it," said Kadam. "It was a very professional atmosphere and my way of thinking changed. I got tremendous experience working as a floor trainer and learned a lot from my colleagues who were professionally trained."
He was promoted as a personal trainer after six months and worked there for a year and a half. When Leena Mogre, the then CEO of Gold Gym, started her own gym, he joined as the head trainer of the institution based in Khar.
"By working as a personal trainer with the gym and also training some others, I used to make around Rs 20,000. Even though I got a promotion, my salary actually came down. But I did not mind that and used to stay in the gym. This was to avoid travel and concentrate more on my profession. I was working for about 18 hours a day," he said. It did not take long before he started earning around Rs 25,000 a month.
Last year, he was made manager of LM Fitness' branch at Shivaji Park. The arrangement for personal trainers is that 50 per cent of the charges go to the gym while the rest goes to the trainer. Kadam makes close to Rs 40,000 a month. "More importantly, I am doing what I like. I may have made more money had I joined merchant navy or something but I wouldn't have had so much job satisfaction," said Kadam. "I want to study more and I believe that if I deliver, money will follow."