The year is 2010 and I’m rocking Zumba. But not as much as the 20-somethings in the class. One in particular stands out. That’s where I first met Priti Rai Shrestha—on the fitness floor at Salsa Dance Academy. Scroll forward a few months and we meet again. This time Shrestha is killing the Pilates class while I struggle with my 100s. By then Shrestha is a qualified Zumba instructor and about to undertake Pilates training from the then only qualified instructor in Nepal, Nina Sherpa.
Although we are firm friends, our fitness paths diverted about five years ago only to come together again recently both in the Pilates studio and in the pool. So I wanted to know how this woman became one of only a handful of properly trained female fitness instructors in the country.
“When I started going to Zumba I was working in an office in Panauti. But when I started college I couldn’t continue working full time. Thankfully the owner of the Salsa Dance Academy offered me a job as a Zumba instructor—on the condition that I passed the training in Hyderabad,” explains Shrestha. That training was only the start of her fitness career. Expanding into Pilates—an exercise form emphasizing balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility and awareness first developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s—Shrestha was getting requests to undertake personal training.
“At that point,” Shrestha continues, “I realized I needed to know more about how the body works and obtained online certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, USA and from the Athletic and Fitness Association of America.” Not content with online certification, she attended training in Malaysia, Singapore and India. These trainings included Pilates certification in ‘classical’ and ‘reformer’ Pilates, as well as Crossfit, Piloxing, Veraflow and Spinning. That’s in addition to a degree in Exercise Physiology from Capella University, Minnesota.
While Shrestha was building her knowledge of fitness training and how the body works, this writer had fallen behind in all forms of exercise. So I was excited to meet Shrestha again—this time in the aqua aerobics pool. As far as I am aware, despite there being advertised “Zumba pool parties” there is only 2 or 3 other qualified instructors in aqua aerobics (aerobics done in water) in Nepal. “I am certified by the Aquatic Exercise Association, and I now am perusing lifeguard certification. Which is challenging as there is limited training in Nepal,” says Shrestha. Meantime, now working at the American Mission Association, Shrestha is also trained in emergency CPR and AED.
So here we are, nine years later. Me nine years older and correspondingly less fit (which will change now that I’m hitting the aqua pool)! Shrestha more mature in her attitude towards fitness. I ask about her future plans.
“Nina Sherpa is returning to Nepal to provide Reformer Pilates training and open a studio...” Wait a second—let’s just qualify what Reformer Pilates is. Shrestha laughs, “That’s where machines are used in Pilates. Regular Pilates involves mat work on the floor. Reformer Pilates involves using specially designed machines.” Sounds intense!
“My future plans are to design and develop Pilates’ instructor training and provide it to people around the country,” explains Shrestha. “Pilates is all about injury prevention. While other forms of fitness can cause injury, especially as we age, Pilates corrects posture, improves core strength and prevents injury. And it can be adapted for all age groups.” Already making headway in designing this course, she hopes this will ultimately improve overall fitness at community level.
As Shrestha points out, there is no end to building knowledge of how to prevent injury in fitness clients. And as one of those clients I can say, there is no end to aging and even the best athlete will reach a stage where core strength is more beneficial for daily life than running the fastest 100 metres!
For further information contact Shrestha at firstname.lastname@example.org