Sharmila Munj - First Pinkathon Ambassador
Sharmila much opposite to her name, the iron lady of pinkathon who along with Mr. Milind soman revolutionized the idea of pinkathon – an opportunity for women to come out of their cocoons and shine bright. A woman of substance who has dedicated her life for empowering women physically and mentally shares her profound pinkathon journey with us here. Her life revolves around her daughter, pinkathon, and all women whom she can make stronger and independent.
HOW DID YOU GET ASSOCIATED WITH PINKATHON?
17 years ago I was working with DHL, BLUEDART as a business development head. My daughter and one of Milind’s actor colleague's daughters were studying in the same school and she knew me well. In 2013, the second year of Pinkathon, Milind was looking for someone to help him with the fund-raising part of it and this colleague suggested that he speak to me. One fine day Milind called me and asked me if I could assist him in this venture since I knew many companies who could support us with this. I agreed to assist him only because Milind was deeply passionate about Pinkathon. It was very clear that I would do it for him as a friend and not for any monetary gains because for me it was all about helping someone and not looking at it as a business. And this is how my journey of Pinkathon started.
HOW WAS YOUR FIRST MEETING WITH MILIND?
Before meeting Milind, I had told him very clearly that I would handle the fundraising part on my terms since it was my forte, I being from the sales background and that Milind should not interfere there. Our first client call was Lilavati hospital. I had never met Milind before and when I saw him for the first time at Lilavati I asked him whether his eyes were real as it was rude to attend any call with coloured lenses on. Milind laughed to his heart's content and said that his eyes were absolutely original. I did not ask for an autograph and spoke to him very professionally and we were successful in getting some funds for the pinkathon in Mumbai. Milind was quite impressed with my professionalism and dedication and this is how we clicked and moved ahead.
HOW DID YOU BECOME A PINKATHON MARATHON RUNNER?
A month before the Mumbai pinkathon in 2013 was the Pune pinkathon and Milind invited me to see and attend the event for which I was assisting him. I was not into fitness at all, and I refused him bluntly saying that I can't get away from my love for heels but he was very insistent that I should just witness the event. Just for his sake my daughter and I reached Pune where upon reaching we were not allowed to meet Milind, were extremely disheartened till Milind himself came up to me, greeted me with a lot of love, and handed me a bib which he had kept specially for me. that was my first 3 km run with sports shoes.
HOW DID YOU START ENCOURAGING OTHER WOMEN FOR PINKATHON?
After I came back from Pune, I asked the MD of my company to sponsor all women who were working for the company to run for the Mumbai pinkathon. And all the company heads I used to meet, I used to request them to sponsor their women colleagues. this is how I connected a lot of women with pinkathon and Milind made me the first pinkathon ambassador.
HOW DID YOU START “HAR GHAR MEIN PINKATHON”?
I once told Milind that when the pinkathon run is over the women have no opportunity to continue with their physical activity till they straight away turn up after a year for the next pinkathon. We needed to encourage them in some way to come out of their homes, to grab this opportunity and to work for their fitness. We needed to train women on how to run marathons. Milind was happy with the idea and this is how the first pinkathon training group was started by me in Vile Parle. The idea was to train women in 1-2 km vicinity of their homes so that they do not have to travel anywhere. And this is how the various training locations started when women associated with the Pinkathon spread the word around.
HOW DID YOU BECOME A MUMBAI TO PUNE RUNNER?
Again it was Milind's determination that made me do it. He encouraged me that with proper training I could also become a runner. He asked me to start training under Raj vadgama at 5:30 in the morning at Juhu beach where I had never been so early in the morning ever. but I did go and see my determination Milind himself sent me training programs and I finally became a long-distance runner.
WHAT IS YOUR FITNESS REGIME NOW?
I do a lot of planking because while training Milind made me plank a lot to make my core strong and said that if our core is strong, we can do any level of physical fitness. I cycle a lot and also train many women for cycling because for me cycling takes out my inner feminity. I am training for a triathlon and I am also doing a lot of rigorous endurance training.
YOUR MESSAGE TO THE ENTIRE PINKATHON FAMILY?
Every woman is born a leader. Just come out and show the world that you can do anything. Become independent. let no boundaries hold you back. we don’t need to be a celebrity to start something new. we normal people can create magic. Show the power of love, spread love, appreciate every woman. bonding is particularly important. Milind always says I am married to Pinkathon. Show this kind of dedication. make a difference in every woman's life. Live your life queen size.