Chandra Gopalan, Director of Contours India, biggest chain of women’s gyms in the country, quit her job as regional manager of Swiss Air to pursue her passion as her profession. Chandra is the first senior woman to complete the 100 kilometres and a 24-hour run on the Bangalore Ultra. She loves running, it is a way of life for her. To her credit, she has over 30 marathons and ultra marathons. Her personal best is 1 hour and 55 minutes at the half marathon in Mumbai in 2006, which got her the gold in the senior category.
Chandra Gopalan is an accomplished runner. In our chat with her, she opens up about her love for running in general and why it is important for today’s women to be fit.
Tell us about your love for being in shape and for marathon training?
I am passionate about fitness. I love sports and I have participated in several events during my school and college days. I took up marathon running a decade ago and have never looked back. The sheer joy of training keeps me energised. I recently did a 24-hour run, after 8 months of training. My strength training keeps me fit for my long runs. Aside from this, I love to travel.
Endurance, patience and the ability to multi-task are the particular strengths women possess to be successful in any field.
Tell us about Contours. How did the idea come into existence and where do you see its future after 5 years from now?
Introduced in India in 2006, we are 12 gyms strong. Contours is for women only which makes it accessible to all those who may not go to a unisex gym. Besides, I love the fact that we are not machine dependent. Testimony to our product is the fact that several of our gyms are owned and operated by our former members. My vision is to see Contours grow to 25 gyms in the next 5 years.
What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
Nothing is a challenge if you enjoy what you do. When you feel fit and fine, you can take all challenges in your stride
With Perseverance and optimism, I rarely feel defeated.
What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
Good leadership, multi-tasking abilities and leading by example. Unless I believe in the Contours concept, I cannot expect my staff to believe it. I work out in my gym week after week to set this example.
What part of your job do you find most enjoyable?
Weight training is very enjoyable. I am not a cardio-machine user. I prefer running outdoors for my cardio. My strengthening keeps me fit enough to run the distances that I do. I am one of those privileged persons who loves her job.
Who has influenced you the most of what you are today?
My running Coach – Santhosh
Are there any negatives to your job?
None. Business has ups and downs. It’s how you manage it that matters.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far?
To manage a full-time business and train long hours for an Ultramarathon requires more than 24-hours in a day. So, I would say being an entrepreneur and being one of the very few women Ultra Marathoner is an achievement. (Ultra Marathons are long runs, than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 km.)
What would you like to say to a woman-led businesses and someone who has just started running?
Do not give up on your dreams. Persist with reaching your goal, believe in what you do and success will come to you. Never give up without putting in your best. And your best is always yet to come.
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