Gul Panag is counted as one of India’s most powerful opinion makers and thought leaders. She is also a frontline advocate on issues, who regularly engages and facilitates dialogue and debate on critical issues of gender equality, justice, environment issues, fundamental rights, secularism, corruption and political accountability. Thanks to this she is one of the most influential Indian voices on social media. Among the many issues that she’s vocal about, one of the things that stands out is her love for fitness.
Gul has been a prominent icon for women’s fitness for several years now. A serial half marathon runner, Gul has extensively written and been interviewed on her fitness. Talking about her favorite mode of exercising, Gul says, “Running helps get rid of my mental inertia.” Gul ran her first marathon in 2004 at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon and was instantly addicted. “Since my first run, I have ran at the TCS World 10K in Bangalore, the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, the Delhi and Mumbai legs of the Pinkathon, and the Goa River Half Marathon.”
As a fitness enthusiast, Gul had been looking for ways to start a unique brand related to fitness. That came in the form of MobieFit (read more about her association with MobieFit here) and FirstRun. Gul is the personal coach to everyone who signs up to FirstRun. “If you’re into sports and fitness, you probably like the idea of your own personal trainer. That someone who will keep you focused, drive your performance, and keep you on track to complete your goals. It’s not always possible to get a personal trainer, but with FirstRun everyone has one on their smartphone.”
Gul says that running makes her happier and she wants to spread that version of happiness amongst all her followers. “I wish I had technology like this when I first started running at the age of 15. I used to struggled to run 3 miles with my father and having access to a fantastic app like FirstRun would have made the journey so much easier.” Gul is certain that FirstRun will make its users feel the same. Gull will reach out to seasoned as well as aspiring runners through this blog and social media. Twitter, where she has over a 1.2 million followers, will be another platform for interacting with FirstRunners.
Fitness and sports technology are seeing massive gains in the market. But there’s still a gap when it comes to products or apps specifically designed for Indians. “I have taken the conscious decision to come on board to contribute to this industry. Connected healthcare and fitness services will see great gains in the next few years. And, I hope FirstRun will one of the success stories in India’s Internet, at least in the fitness category”, she adds.
Gul believes fitness and running provide solutions to many of life’s problems. “When you do high intensity activities like running, the endorphin rush lasts for 18 hours, making sure you are upbeat through the day. It also helps you get into better eating habits and sets the pace for your daily tasks. If you are stressed out, you go for a quick run and you come back thinking you can handle anything.”
For Gul, running is not just an exercise, but a way of living. “Running makes me see the good in others. If I can influence people to run, and feel the same way, while also staying fit, then I will be more than happy.”