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    When life is a 24/7 zumba party, minus the jet lag

    How does one go from social anxiety around the office to dancing on stage in front of thousands? For Sucheta Pal, the last seven years have seen a 360 degree
    shift. The celebrity zumba trainer takes us back to days when she could barely afford vada pav to hopping planes and gearing up for Season 3 of her TV show
    Zoom Zumba Fitness Party.

    Secret to beating social anxiety
    What shifted for me was finding my passion and discovering that anxiety happens when your energies are focused on yourself. The moment your energies are focused on adding value to other people, whatever you’re suffering from — whether it’s a mental or physical block, everything vanishes. I think that’s what helped me overcome all my anxiety disorders, and of course the high that I get after teaching.

    Zumba with the mother-in-law
    From being someone who never worked out before, my mother-in-law, who is 64, trains under three instructors now and all of them adore her. She beat her arthritic pain and even takes pictures with all the ‘yo’ signs and she does it in a salwar kurta. (Smiles) But for me, the most special part is to share a stage with her and watch her just rocking it in front of a thousand people!

    Finding quiet amidst the noise
    Every artist needs their own space and I find mine waiting for hours at an airport. (Laughs) Half my life is spent at airports and hotel rooms! But it’s uninterrupted time like this that I use to read, educate myself and create  choreography.

    Living on vada pav and a dream
    When I quit corporate life early on, I began a spree of jobs including one as a transcriber making `500 per cassette. I used to work in Dharavi for a fashion house, not the glamourous part, but sitting with the karigars, as well as selling books on commission to municipal schools in Mumbai. Between all of this and six hours of dance every day with my dance company, travelling by the local train — I could barely afford vada pav back then.

    Army wives turned zumba instructors?
    My goal for this year is to take zumba fitness to the next level. We’re targeting tier II and III cities to do this. Like I was in Jammu last month to teach army wives, and they became zumba instructors. Also, Season 3 of my  TV show Zoom Zumba Fitness Party is coming up on Zoom, and I’m so excited to be and travelling through India, sharing zumba stories, and how people’s lives have changed.

    —Sonali Shenoy

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