Sharma is encouraging his office colleagues to participate in fitness and healthy lifestyle
New Delhi: Yogeshwar Sharma, executive director and chief executive officer of Select Citywalk mall, is widely considered a heavyweight in India’s shopping centre business arena. But very few would know that Sharma has also represented India in international sporting events and won gold medals for the country: In global kettlebell championships.
In October 2022, Sharma won a gold in single arm long-cycle 28-kilograms kettlebell category in the World Championship jointly organized in New Delhi by the International Union of Kettlebell Lifting and Khelo India games programme. More than 400 kettlebell players from dozens of countries participated in the New Delhi event.
Prior to that in July 2022, Sharma had represented India as part of six-member Indian contingent in the World Championship organized by the International Gira Sport Federation that was held in Athens in Greece. In that championship Sharma had won a gold in one particular kettlebell lifting competition of one-arm-long-cycle-half-marathon with 187 reps – a category where participants lift a heavy kettlebell from the knees to the shoulder and then over the head and the other way round for several minutes.
Over the last five years, Sharma has come a long way from a newbie in kettlebell sport to winning golds for India at the international levels.
In 2016, as his sugar levels and his hypertension were shooting up, Sharma decided to turn to fitness and initially started running. In the initial weeks Sharma could barely run 200 meters but with his persistent efforts and five years of consistent practice, he ended up running half marathons of 21 kilometers in New Delhi and in Bengaluru, he said.
Even though Sharma had taken to running very regularly, he got into kettlebell by default. A chance meeting with kettlebell coach Vinay Sangwan prompted Sharma to try kettlebell. Now the strenuous sport has became a passion for the veteran mall executive.
“He is very much hooked to it and its part of his life,” said Deepak Zutshi, centre head of Select Citywalk mall and an old friend of Sharma. “I don’t think he will stop doing kettlebell now.”
Kettlebells involve strenuous workout efforts of lifting heavy kettle-like objects that test the user’s strength and endurance.
During the years 2020 and 2021 when countries worldwide went into lockdowns to curb the Covid-19, kettlebell became popular as an at-home exercising option and kettlebells went out of stock in many cities in the US during those years.
At the global kettlebell championships, Sharma competed in the “veterans’ category,” a segment reserved for participants of 40 years and above.
“You won’t find many 52 years olds doing this brutal sport,” said Sangwan, Sharma’s coach and himself a world kettlebell champion for many years. “Because this sport demands very high physical ability and physical and cardio-vascular endurance.”
Coach Sangwan said kettlebell is both a sport and a workout exercise.
“For example, you can play badminton as a competitive sport level as well as a fitness sport,” he said. “Same is the case with kettlebell.”
Sangwan said even though the awareness of kettlebell is very low in India, the kettlebell sport enthusiasts have grown five-fold in the last decade or so.
Even though Sharma has not been able to convert any of his office colleagues in the mall to take kettlebell but many took inspiration from Sharma to change their lifestyles and many of them also hit the gym regularly now.
“Over the years, Yogesh also changed his food habits and with him I also stopped taking sugar with tea and coffee and now it has become a habit for me,” said Zutshi. “We even have created a group of fitness enthusiast in the mall.”
Zutshi cites an example of the current legal head of Select Citywalk who would earlier always take the escalators or lifts to reach the upper floor office.
“Now Vikram always takes the stairs,” beams Zutshi.
With the hectic job of managing a mall and meetings with clients and managing relationships with retailers, Sharma hardly gets time to run during the daytime.
“So Yogesh runs for five-seven kilometers at around midnight in his society,” Zutshi said. “Now all his health parameters are good as per his latest health check-up.”