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March 25: “Nothing is impossible; there are routes to any destination, and if we have the will, we should always have sufficient resources.” We frequently use the word “impossible” as an excuse,” according to Gayatri Mohanty, a former professional banker with 12 years of experience in the corporate banking sector who left her job to follow her aspirations and career in the fitness industry.

Gayatri did not transform from a professional banker to a fitness enthusiast overnight. It required a great deal of courage and commitment for her to leave her well-compensated banker career and pursue her calling in the world of fitness. Gayatri was born in a small town and was raised in a conservative setting. She was expected to obtain an education solely for marrying, giving birth to children, and settling down with her family. Gayatri belonged to a weaker section of them, forcing her to submit to patriarchal conventions.

“While working at a desk banking job and taking care of my family, I could not engage in much physical activity. With the guidance of my coach, I joined a gym to engage in some strength and endurance-building workouts. I embarked on a 9 km overnight trek six months later. Astonished by my endurance, my guide urged me to take on more difficult excursions. This was a significant first step in the exciting journey I was about to embark on. After that, I made a 70-kilometre Chadar trip in just six days in Ladakh, one of the most arduous in the region. We were 11000 meters above sea level, where it was -33 degrees. A broken wrist only made things more difficult, but I didn’t quit. Instead, I fell in love with trekking since it had awoken a hidden beast inside me that is always ready to fulfil its thirst for trekking,” says Gayatri, a mother of a beautiful son.

Her father is a rock for Gayatri, who looks to him for advice and guidance. In every aspect of my life, he (father) was there to support and guide me. He compelled me to join the NCC when I was about 17 years old. At this point, I can confidently claim that this was the beginning of my transformation. Being picked for the Rajpath marching squad was considered a significant accomplishment when I was younger. My leg palm required eight stitches after an accident occurred during exercising. Because I was a female cadet, I was subjected to sexism and harassment simply for being a good cadet. However, I never allowed any of it to influence me, and no one could ever make me lose my self-belief. Despite my injury, I completed the Rajpath March, which gave me more confidence.”

Gayatri, who is an MBA in Banking and Insurance, is an ISSA certified fitness trainer, a certified Zumba and Ace trainer, a solo Himalayan trekker, Motivational speaker, Model, Actor, and Writer. As of now, she has completed over 8 treks, including the ascent to Everest Base camp situated at 5,346 meters, Nangkar Tshang Peak at 5,077 meters, Kalapathar at 5,500 meters, Mount Elbrus at 5,642 meters and Mt. Kilimanjaro at 5895m. 

Gayatri began her life as a regular Indian Bahu (daughter-in-law) in an orthodox and traditional family. She was content, though, that she was permitted to labour beyond the four walls. “Kehte hain na, aasman se tapka aur khajoor pe aatka, wahi hua mere saath, wahi hua mere saath.” I functioned like a ‘kolhu ka bell- aur sab baja rahe the’ inside and outside the house. I was managing everything efficiently (or so I thought), but my entire family were less than appreciative of my efforts. I did that for ten years. However, neither they nor I were content.”

Between the role of a wife, daughter-in-law, mother, and employee somewhere, she lost herself. Her son also needed his mother. She stopped communication with a few of her family members as they had no love and concern for her. After juggling through many thoughts, she decided to put the last nail in the coffin of her suffering. She left the monotonous banking job and started a second round of the journey.

Gayatri is also a motivational speaker at various organizations and educational institutions, acted in a short film based on mental health in 2020, the jury for beauty pageants, modelling for beauty brands, and has authored many articles for fitness magazines.

She was honored with International Women Achiever’s Award 2019 by 108-year-old Padmashri awardee and environmentalist Vrushamathe Saalumarada Thimmakka, South India Women Achiever’s Award 2020, and International Women Achiever Award by Smruti Saddhna 2021.

“Compassion, not compromises, are what I require as a woman. I’m looking for understanding, not dismissal. I’ve never allowed my abilities to be harmed by circumstances. I’ve retraced my life’s priorities and strengthened my resolve to face any problem. I’m rash and caring at the same time. I’m fearless but cautious. I am a 21st-century woman who is powerful and self-assured.” Said Gayatri.

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