“Be a warrior and not a worrier woman”: Deanne Panday

From doing 90-minute Jane Fonda workout challenges to joining a 5-star hotel gym with her pocket money to becoming a celebrated trainer and India’s best selling fitness author – Deanne Panday’s remarkable fitness journey is for all to see.


Deanne Panday – the author of two national best seller fitness books and a fitness trainer to various Bollywood celebrities – needs no introduction in the fitness world.

In the late 1970s, practicing any form of fitness routine was not considered ‘normal’ for women, but the 11-year Panday used to practise Jane Fonda workout challenges. Little did she knew that a fun workout at the tender age will turn into a passion and a full-fledged career.

Today, at the age of 51, she is defying age with her fitness.

“ When I was around 11 years old, my older sister who was into modelling would often work out to Jane Fonda videos. When she left for work, my younger sister and I would play the cassettes and try those 90-minute challenges. I never knew that my passion would lead me where I’m today,” recalls Panday. “Although, my parents put me into a commercial arts college, i did not stop my workouts. While studying in college I got a job and used my pocket money to join a 5-star hotel gym, when people of my age went for movies, I choose to workout!”

“I do a mix of yoga, pilates, strength training. At 50, I looked my best, people often poured questions about my diet, my hours of work out. I started practicing health and wellness at a very young age. I solicited yoga, practiced eating organic food on a daily basis before these trends even came out in the open, traveled across the world along with my clients so my life took a holistic turn much earlier,” she shares in a tête-à-tête with SMEFutures.

The fitness expert, health coach and the mother of two, Panday opens up about her life story and how it was her belief that made her what she is today. She is not just an inspiration to the women community, but everyone who wants to propagate fitness.

Embracing the writer within

Taking us through the memory lane, Panday shares that in those days only five-star hotels had proper gyms and she started weight training there. “It was totally a boy’s only club then. You’d hardly see a woman lifting weights,” she adds.

As she started training harder, it started reflecting in her appearance, but she never knew that it would lead her way to fitness. “I was 21 then and my body started looking very fit. Although, I didn’t know much about fitness at that point but I started getting a lot of opportunities from various media publications to write on fitness, so I decided to share the gift I had. Whether stretching or yoga or even the first spinning class in Mumbai, I wrote about it and that’s how I gave birth to the writer in me.”

But, Panday soon realized that if she needed to know more about fitness to do justice to the writing opportunities coming her way. She decided to enroll in a four-month course in Australia. “As I did those technical courses, I realized how good a decision it was to get proper training as I was clueless about even the very basic language in fitness.”

In fact, I had that guilt conscious in me that I’m writing for such big publications, ‘what am I doing, I have to study’. I had come for one month, so I requested my husband to take care of my kids and extended my stay to three months, she quips.

A lifetime opportunity

As a mother of two kids then (aged two and four), the idea was to remain a full-time mom and do some writing whenever she could manage time. Deanne shares, “When I came back, I was the first person in India to have done a personal training course abroad. And, one day I was offered a job by Mr. Pradeep Guha to train the Miss India contestants.”

This was the biggest surprise of her life.

This was the phase when Panday was playing the role of a mother of two young children. She put together a team of trainers – and, began her journey as a personal trainer. She broke the mindset and proved to society that weight training and not only running only on the treadmill and doing the regular cardio exercises could lead to weight loss. In the history of Miss India, she introduced weight training to tone up the contestants, and due to which “their bodies were on a par with international standards,” she adds.

With her success with the Miss India, offers and requests started pouring for her to train various celebrities and socialites, eventually turning her into one of the country’s most sort after fitness expert and trainer.

“But my priority remained my kids, I strategized everything around them. I’d take a client for two hours when my kids were at playschool…my work schedule was adjusted to their routine. It was only when they got busy with their lives that I made this a full-time profession,” she says.

Currently, her main mantra is to spread awareness and educate people about fitness and wellness. The fitness world craves for her Saturday blogs, the signature move, which she uploads on her social media platforms and the motivational talks, workshops where she educates people on health and wellness.

The Rise and Fall and Rise…

Life is not all about panache. Stress and work life balance sometimes hits, as well. Panday, too, just like other women entrepreneur had to handle the pressure. Sharing her story, she admits that things were not too rosy. “As work was expanding, I was handling it all alone. I had hired a few personal trainers under me, and I was always restricted in terms of place of training. We had struggle between homes, clubs etc.”

“I always had a dream to open a personal training studio, so I decided to begin another leg of my professional journey. I looked for a studio space for four years, and then I stumbled upon a huge place of three floors. I took this as a challenge and did the interiors for one and a half years, along with my partners, and opened a gym, called Play – which I ran for four years.”

But she eventually had to shut it down due to non-financial gains. “My idea was always for a small studio, for which I began the entrepreneurial journey, however things did not fall into the right place, but this did not demotivate me and soon I shut my gym,” Panday adds.

This failure did not let her down and this was the time when life was setting the stage to add another feather to her cap – of becoming an author, blogger and wellness traveller. To become an author was always her dream, she went on to become India’s bestselling fitness author with her first book ‘I’m Not Stressed’ – secrets to a calm mind and body and her second book ‘Shut Up and Train’ – a complete guide for men and women.

Deanne Panday’s life secrets revealed!

#What it means to be empowered: For Panday, empowerment is all about believing in oneself.

While narrating her story, she shares, “At the age of 12, I empowered myself with fitness not realizing much. The day when people value believe in their own selves, they tend to empower themselves. Fitness plays a very important part here. When you have a healthy body and mind, you become healthy in your life’s actions and work and relationships around you. You just become positive; your aura becomes positive. If you take control over your life and empower yourself, you will win.”

#Tips on dealing with stress: In times today, balancing work and life becomes a tedious task and often leads to stress. Her secret to dealing with it:

  • You wake up, workout, you deal with the day. If anything goes bad, you do not grumble, take that one good thing that happened and give gratitude for it.
  • Be a warrior and not a worrier woman. Stay away from negative energy and believe in self-love and be self-sufficient.

Panday further adds that even she comes across with similar issues like any other individuals do, and shares: “I deal with such issues in an intelligent and calm way, along with nutrition and exercise.”

#Tips on losing weight after pregnancy: Every woman wants to have a child at one point and Panday explains that losing weight cannot start after the baby, but it should be a part and parcel of your lifestyle. She shares:

  • Modern women – who are under immense pressure to lose weight quickly – should never fall into the trap of fat burners or crash diets or any obsessive workout routines.
  • The body has to go through a lot – first bear the child during the pregnancy phase, then breast feed, and take care of the child after delivery. Take a minimum year to year and a half. First three months are very crucial, so just walk around and be active during that time, and then begin with a light form of exercise like post-natal yoga or pilates, under the guidance of a doctor or expert. Gradually, after 5-6 months, begin with intense workouts.

To Panday, your body is a temple and it should be worshipped. She wants women to be mindful. “Your body is not a machine take care of it throughout your life, do not go by what people and society have to say, do what suits you and your body,” she tells. “Just do it the right way, strike a balance. I have done it. Pre or post, always stay fit, eat healthy, make it a part and parcel of your lifestyle and not any temporary or short term goal.”

I never believed in all this as these things fail

#Body shaming – the evil eye: “Khana kam kar, moti ho jaaegi” – this is a general comment we hear very often in our society. On which, Panday answers, “Body shaming persists in our society and takes toll on the emotional health. Everyone associates beauty with being thin and beautiful. If you are fat, you are not considered beautiful.”

“This leads to depression, the emotional baggage and pressure of looking perfect on social media is leading into a very dangerous direction,” she continues.

“Being size zero or being slim does not indicate that you are healthy. I don’t even go on the weighing scale, in fact, I weigh about 58 kgs, which is too much as per my height of 5’3.5”. Its because I have a lot of muscle and muscle weights more than fat. I’m the fittest today, and I have energy more than a 20-year old. Fitness and health is about how you feel. Celebrate yourself! It’s not about shape and size. The universe will work for you and you will attract everything good. But if you don’t believe in your own self and crib and be like ‘Oh, I’m so fat, I have pimples…’, then you will tend to attract only negative energy. In fact, don’t try to be like someone else, as everyone’s body is different,” Deanne shares.

#Do diets work: Diets, whether, Keto, GM diet, intermittent fasting, a lot of these dieting trends surface on the net. Do they work? Here’s what she has to say:

  • I don’t believe in diets, as diets could make you slim and thin and not healthy. Usually, I follow a 90-10 ratio in my diet, in which I eat 90 per cent healthy and 10 per cent whatever I wish to. While on some days I follow a 80-20 ratio in my diet. A well-balanced healthy home cooked meal which includes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, adequate proteins, complex carbs, healthy fats, lots of water is all it takes.
  • Go back to the old times, when people just had simple home-cooked food, had smaller portions and went out less to eat out at restaurants. Stay away from processed food as they are food like substances and not food. Anything which we grow, pluck, peel and eat is food, therefore refrain from packed food. Avoid the ‘sugar’ as much as you can.
  • Eat ‘seasonal’, ‘local’ and ‘organic’ produce.Just keep it simple and never go out for any fads or crash diet plans.

Building a healthy lifestyle is all it takes, she feels.


#Exercising at home: A nine to five job, along with kids and family, always restricts from going to the gym. A very common query among women, can I be fit by working out at home? On this, she shares few tips:

  • Do what suits your body and your life. Movement is not restricted to any place. Dance, swim, practise with the help of workout videos, do yoga or just walk – movement is key.
  • Each body is different, never restrict or think that only going to the gym or a studio can make you fit, just do what suits you.

She adds, “Your workout is as personal as your fingerprint.”

Deanne Panday swears by…
  • Ashtanga Yoga as her go-to form of exercise, that calms her mind, body and soul.
  • Antibacterial hand sanitizer, Deodorant, Change – clothes, Face wash, Face towel, Resistant band are essential items she carries in her bag.
  • Cashews, Walnuts, Almonds, Banana, Sunflower seeds, Water make up to her healthy snacking list

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