Meet BITSians in Sports: BITS2Fitness Eighth Interview: Neha Mohanty (BITS-Goa’13)


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Our 8th Interviewee for “Meet the BITSians in Sports” series is Neha Mohanty. Neha at present works as the e-Sports Manager, Domyos, at Decathlon Sports India. She is also a licensed Zumba Fitness Instructor.

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After graduating from BITS-Pilani Goa in 2013, she joined Sandisk as a Reliability engineer, and after about one and a half years switched to a career catering to fitness. Continue reading to find out more about her and some tips for a healthy lifestyle.

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NameNeha Mohanty
BITS ID: 2008B4A3520G

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What attracted you to sports/fitness?
I have always been into sports since my childhood. I started playing basketball in my 7th grade and have played ICSE and state nationals and continued the same at BITS Goa.

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Which sports/activities have you been involved in and how did you take these up?
At present I am a licensed Zumba Fitness Instructor and take Zumba sessions at Decathlon India office. I started as a free-lancer and eventually integrated it at my workplace.

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You were the captain of the BPGC Basketball Team. How was your experience leading the squad?
Leading different people from different backgrounds was quite challenging. However, practising our sessions together was a lot of fun. Each and every team member inspired the other to perform the best and we ended up being the runners up in Spree2011.

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What were your takeaways from it?
Be respectful of other’s ideas and don’t criticise.

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What motivated you to switch from Sandisk to Decathlon ?
Sandisk was good but I realised I was getting unfit with the IT lifestyle . A new fitness club called the Tribe had opened near my house and I took up membership there. After a couple of months, Shwetambari Shetty, Zumba Education Specialist who runs the Tribe encouraged me to do the Zumba instructor training. This was a life changing decision. I started taking classes there and switched gears from IT to fitness. After a short stint at Tribe, I joined Decathlon as the Product (E-Sports) manager of Domyos.

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How important a role does maintaining a healthy diet play?
Healthy diet definitely plays a huge role in being fit. But I believe moderation is the key. To ensure my metabolism is intact I eat six meals a day , the major ones being breakfast lunch dinner and healthy snacks such as fruits, nuts, sprouts, etc. in between.

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…But what about the occasional cravings?
As long as you work out regularly it’s alright to give into occasional cravings .

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Motivation plays a huge part in everyone’s lives. What motivates you to put in that extra effort to keep yourself fit?
I manage my time well when I work out. My efficiency increases and there is no place for lethargy. Also, my friends Harshitha and Sanchita make sure that I don’t miss working out.

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All of us make promises but fail to eventually live up to them. Are there any tips that you would want to share to all the BITSians so that they can stay motivated throughout and achieve their promised fitness goals?
Don’t stick to one particular routine, it becomes monotonous. Try out various group class, Crossfit, various sports , trek, run, etc. Have a community/group that motivates you to workout.

What’s your fitness mantra?
I believe in breaking monotony to work out regularly and hence I try doing different things on different days. This is what I currently follow:

Monday : Body Combat
Tuesday : Zumba
Wednesday : Power Yoga
Thursday : RPM (Indoor Cycling)
Friday : Body Pump
Weekends : Outdoor

Any future event that you plan to take part in?
No event as such, but I am training to become a Kettlebell instructor.

Interviewed by: Suchita Pati (2011A3PS269H)


Positions available with BITS2Fitness

Fancy joining BITSAA and giving back to your alma-mater? Or, do you know an alumnus who would want to? If yes, we have two positions available with BITS2Fitness.

BITS2Fitness came into existence in 2015 and we are working on many new initiatives to organize new and unique fitness events across multiple sports. We have “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” to provide a “WOW Factor” experience to BITSians all over the world in the field of fitness. Since, this chapter is relatively new and is growing – you would have ample opportunities to present your ideas and showcase your creative side in different activities. 

Requirement 1

Designation: Engagement Specialist


Engage BITSians all the over world and promote importance of healthy lifestyle through BITS2Fitness FB page and BITSAA blog.

  • Look for BITSians in sports, and conduct monthly interviews for Interview Series: “Meet the BITSians in Sports”. Example here.
  • Carry forward “Exercise of the Month” initiative. Example here.
  • Lead weekly “Motivational Monday” initiative.

Requirement 2
Designation: Design Specialist


  • In this role, you will have an opportunity to showcase your creative skills by converting different initiatives taken by BITS2Fitness into creative posters and videos.
  • Your work (posters and videos) would be seen by BITSians across the globe and would be instrumental in increased user engagement.

If interested, please drop an email to “” mentioning the post you are interested in. Also, please do share a line or two in the email on the following:

  1. How motivated are you to work for BITS2Fitness chapter of BITSAA and give back to BITS?
  2. Why do you feel you are a good fit for the role you are opting for?
  3. How much time can you do devote towards this activity?

Meet BITSians in Sports: BITS2Fitness Seventh Interview: Praneeth Subramanya (BITS-Pilani’09)

‪#‎MeetBITSiansInSports‬ ‪#‎BITSianIronMan‬

Our 7th Interviewee for “Meet the BITSians in Sports” series is Praneeth Subramanya (2005C6PS582). Praneeth completed ‪#‎IronMan‬ this year and is also a recipient of BITSAA 30 Under 30 Award.
After graduating from BITS in 2009, Praneeth joined Infosys and has been with the company for nearly 7 years now. He moved to the US two years ago as a Project Lead.
In an exhaustive interview, Praneeth shares his food habits, workout details, fitness mantras and Ironman experience!

Name: Praneeth Subramanya
BITS ID: 2005C6PS582

How does it feel to be named among BITSAA 30 under 30?
When I registered I only had a few marathons and half Iron distance races. I completed the Ironman after registering for the BITSAA 30 under 30. It was a very good feeling when you get recognition but with an almamater like BITS, it was very special. I am one of the very few Ironman athletes in India. The numbers are growing by the event and I’m glad to see so many people picking up the sport.

Sports/activities involved in and how did you get into playing these sports?
Swimming, Running, Cycling and strength training mostly. I have done a good amount of hiking, climbing (not in the US yet though), off road/terrain biking, long motor-bike rides before I started endurance sports.
I started off hiking at different places and bouldering, climbing pretty quickly after that. I fell in love with climbing and being a fat guy almost all my life, it was very important to me to get fit. With this urge to get fit, I started biking to work daily, a few 30-40 milers a month and eventually picked up running as just biking wasn’t giving me enough results. I did a few marathons along the way and had to move to Chennai on a work assignment. There I saw a call from Chennai Trekking Club for a half Iron distance race 3 months out. I knew about Ironman as I had read the story of the first Indian Ironman, Anu Vaidyanathan and was inspired. Infact I had a Barney(from how I met your mother) style challenge with a friend that I’d finish an Ironman before 30. Now, my only dilemma was swim – could I learn to swim in 3 months? I consulted a few friends and signed up. I kicked off from there and eventually completed an Ironman race last September.

You recently completed Iron Man. How did you train for it? Could you please share your workout details?
The most important thing I learned from a full Iron distance race was discipline. You have to make a plan and stick to it. I didnt have a coach or paid for any specific training plans. I hired a fitness coach however for the last month to correct some posture issues. The event I picked for Ironman was Lake Tahoe. The course is one of a kind at high altitude with a lot of elevation gain over bike course and one of the toughest North American races. I reviewed the course and made intermediate plans inline with the course. Being in the bay area has offered ample opportunities to train right for the race. I followed a simple 3 workouts/discipline a week rule. two intermediate distances and one long distance. I used the Aquatic Park swim area at San Francisco as a open water workout and finished a swim to Alcatraz and back (same distance as Ironman 2.4 mi) which was one of the highlights of my training. I have documented the whole experience with training details and the event itself here :

What was most challenging thing during your preparations for Iron-man?
The most challenging portion was getting out of bed in the morning to workout. Once you get out of bed, everything else is simple. The first step from the bed is the hardest. Then, there is a time commitment you need to maintain. I used to workout 10-15 hrs a week mostly with highest going to I think 22 hours on one weekend with around 9 hours on a Saturday(my longest brick). The other challenges were managing work and workout schedule especially with an offshore team not to impact either and missing out on rendezvous with friends over weekends.

Does Fitness comes naturally to you? How much time did it take you to prepare for Iron-man?
I was never fit my whole life. I was healthy but obese. When I left BITS I was a little over 90 Kgs. I liked playing but never to get fit interested in gym which I still hate but see as a necessary evil. I was a foodie and still miss out the good old rabdi from BITS :).  Climbing had become my passion once which was the first time I had a reason to get fit. But once I started cycling and running and learned to swim it was an amazing feeling and there was no reason to look back. My swim from Aquatic park to Alcatraz and back is one of the best things I have experienced (I have done a lot of hikes, seen very beautiful places, did quite a few adventure sports). Time it took for me to prepare from an Ironman is a very tricky question. I signed up 3 months to the event but I was always doing something – running a marathon/riding my bike for pleasure/having a fun swim. It’s not just that – I can feel the benefits of fitness oriented lifestyle from the confidence it provides and how your day grows more brighter with a good workout to start your day. So though I trained for only 3 months a very huge mistake for a race like Ironman, I was into the triathlon sport for past 2.5+ years

Any major injuries that blocked your preparations and progress? Any recommendation/advice on how to avoid such injuries?
I never faced any injuries as I am yet to do a “race” than just complete the race. Injuries have some underlying problem – incorrect posture/improper diet/over training/lack of sufficient sleep and many more. You get symptoms before injuries which you should heed to or as people say – listen to your body. It worked great for me. I don’t strain my body more than it can handle. That is not to say that I don’t push during my interval workouts, but, I dont try and run a marathon at 10K pace.

What kind of food/diet you usually consume while you are working out continuously for 10-12 hours during events like Iron-man?
My on course nutrition is still a work in progress and no where near good. Nutrition is often referred to as fourth discipline in ironman which I’m yet to perfect. There are methods which can help you calculate precisely what you need and when you need them on course. Proper hydration, electrolytes, carbs/proteins constitute the main requirements of oncourse nutrition. Then there is pre-workout nutrition with carbs, proteins and a bit of fruit and post workout recovery food which I mostly include a bit of protein and a lot of fruit

Could you please share your Iron-man experience in form of a short blog? Atmosphere, people, memories, challenges?
I have my full experience documented here:

What do you like the most about Swimming, Running and Cycling?
Each of them have their own individual place for me. I started out long distances as a runner so I like running. Biking gives you a unique experience of a place. I love climbing even on the bike. Biking provides you with spectacular views which you otherwise would miss out on. Swimming in a pool is boring for me but open water is liberating and unique each time and each place. The birds eye views are majestic. I lean towards swimming may be because of open water experience or the fact that I’m still not very good at it.

Do you take special care of your diet in everyday life?
When you pursue a sport like Ironman it sends its good vibes through the other areas of your life. A part of it was food. I was a vegetarian all my life. I became an eggetarian to fulfill my protein needs. I have a lot of fruit (3-4 kinds a day), oatmeal, yogurt, South Indian thali, salads mostly. I fell in love with salads especially due to freshness they provide and ample nutrition with them. My main change was switch to brown rice from white, have a protein supplement and include eggs in my diet.Another change which happened without my notice and what my mom noticed and told me about  was I eat dal and curry like rice and vice-versa which meant I switched to include lesser carbs and more nutrition with each meal. I gave up soda and softdrinks 3 years ago and don’t miss them. I gave up refined sugars for jaggery, honey and natural sweeteners like agave for which I’m more than happy. I also make my own fresh juice than resort to preservative infested juice packs as much as I can. I however still indulge in the guilty food pleasures once in awhile like eating fries and a good bowl of ice cream.

What’s your next goal for your game(s)?
I have signed up for one half iron distance race, 3 full races and another shorter tri from alcatraz next year. Two of the full iron races are a week apart. So my immediate challenge is to complete both. At the Tahoe finish line, I was smiling and as one of my friends said, I looked as if I was out of a comedy movie. I intend to finish both races with the same smile on my face. I am also going back to a vegetarian diet as I found more than enough options to fulfill my protein concerns.

Any advice to the BITSian community on how to stay healthy and fit?
Fitness is a very individual thing and each has their own goals. For me fitness has become an important regimen. Basic fitness is simple and not very hard to achieve if you really want to be fit. You don’t need drastic changes in your lifestyle to become fit. Just a few simple changes like – include a 30min – 1 hr of any physically active activity in a day, have anything on moderation than binge eating, reduce/avoid refined sugars with healthier options, include fruits into your diet, get enough sleep, reduce on screen time. These are some small changes which tend to snowball and provide very noticeable effects on your health and fitness which I think in turn push you into the next level once you start noticing the benefits.

Interviewed by: Robin Garg (2007A3PS161P)

Meet BITSians in Sports: BITS2Fitness Sixth Interview: Karthika Periyathambi (Stanford’11, BITS-Pilani’09)

Our sixth Interviewee for “Meet the BITSians in Sports” series is Karthika Periyathambi (2005A3PS096P).

After graduating from BITS in 2009 (with CGPA 10), Karthika went on to pursue her Masters from Stanford (EE, MS’11) and proceeded to start her career as a Design Engineer at Intel. Over a year ago, she decided to explore other Hardware design areas and shifted to Google’s Android Team. Karthika was part of BITS BOSM Athletics Team, and is a passionate Biker, Dancer, Runner and Hiker. It was a great opportunity for BITS2Fitness team to interview her and know about her unique experiences. Enjoy reading about her inspirational journey and interests!

Name:  Karthika Periyathambi
BITS ID: 2005A3PS096P

Sports/activities involved in and how did you get into these sports?
My friends know me as over-enthusiastic chatter box 😛 Tired of me breaking things at home, my mom enrolled me into multiple classes (gymnastic, bharatanatyam, karate, carnatic music); so that I could divert my energy elsewhere. But, that became a routine since childhood; even though I may be the funny backdrop dancer, I would still opt for every dance, skit and hobby class. Some classes like Dance and Athletics team worked out while the others like Karate and Violin were disastrous.. but the enthu kept going.

What do you like the most about these sports?
Fresh air away from laptop-smartphone-techno world, reminder of painful muscles that you didn’t even know exists and fun way to meet more like-minded people.

You were part of BITS BOSM Athletics Team. How did you manage to maintain academic performance along with this?
When our batchmates could initiate startups like Grey Orange Robotics while mugging for CDC tuts, work nonstop for Controlz and still top Compres, practice months for Razzmatazz and still lead the EC panel discussion.. passion can make anything possible. If you enjoy an activity, you don’t need to plan for it or force it, you will always find time to fit in your passions into your schedule :)

What forms of dance do you practice? What is the best way (for someone new) to learn and master these dance forms? (Are proper dance classes required or can someone learn these dance forms through Youtube Videos as well)
I started with Bharatanatyam, but drifted towards folk (inspired by Kollywood) and freestyle. Learnt a little of Social Dancing from Stanford’s courses, but hoping to learn more Hip Hop in the future.  Dancing is the easiest thing to start learning, primarily because there are so many classes and online channels offered.
Beginner introvert: For any new style, there are infinite youtube links starting with basic foot and hand movements : Salsa-Beginner, Waltz Beginner, Bhangra is easiest to pick up, For classical forms, joining a class is the best way,to learn traditional forms from the Gurus.
Beginner extrovert: Crash in a Desi wedding, you will automatically pick the latest moves. There is never a perfect dance, your move can be the next popular one.. so grab friends and go for Bollywood night and shake a leg.
Intermediate: Either workout through Cardio-Dance classes  or Online Lessons: Dance with Madhuri or sign-up for your organization’s Diwali Performance

What do you like the most about Cycling? Typical Distances you cycle for?
Cycling appeals to my eco-friendliness goal; everyday when I bike to office, I feel that instead of sitting around in a car or bus, I can utilize the same time to be in fresh air, get fit and save fuel.
My office to-fro biking ranges around 22 kms round trip, while my maximum has been 140 kms to-fro Santa Cruz. Light-weight cycle and scenic trails can makes distances zoom in.

How often do you run? What’s your Personal Best for Half Marathon?
I am such a lazy runner; in BOSM training, when our coach would order us to run three rounds around the ground, I would run half and pretend to tie shoe-laces until everyone finishes two more and then would join in for the last 😛 From that level to running half-marathons, it all happened when my dresses wouldn’t fit me anymore. But, once you start running 3-4 miles, it becomes a habit, especially with a fun running buddy. Beyond 6 miles is pushing your body and may be harmful to knees, if not for good shoes. If you don’t account for the sprints from Meera Bhavan to FD1 during Compre-times, then my personal best would be 1 hour 59 mins for Half-marathons.

Do you prefer running on roads or do you usually practice on treadmill?
Anytime roads, am never a gym person. Need some entertainment while running, so a new trail and fun running buddy keep the interest alive.

Do you take special care of your diet?
It would be a lie if I say my diet is perfect, I go gaga over potato fries and I would do anything for chocolates and ice-creams. (I was bribed Bluemoon shakes for doing OT assignment :P) But, over years I have realized just workout is not enough. Healthy options directly lead to stamina and energy. I try to make conscious decision to eat at home->easiest way of avoiding overeating and artificial chemicals. Even though am not at all a salad person, I try to keep my Biryani-temptations and chocolate fevers to one day per week and maintain conscious effort on the others. So far, this resolution has been in action only for the past two weeks; but each time after breaking it, I do reattempt it.

What’s your next goal for your game(s)?

  • More fruits and veggies in my diet; reduced sugar intake
  • Learn hip-hop and choreograph another contemporary piece
  • Learn swimming and dive into Great Barrier Reef (last time I snorkeled in Miami, I almost drowned)
  • To backpack on a trip to the Southern Hemisphere (either Africa or South America)

How does all these activities help you stay healthy? Any advice to the BITSian community on how to stay healthy and fit?
With our current work-schedule, most of us are hooked onto laptops and smartphones for major portions. Just to break the monotonicity and awaken the unused muscles, one can take up any activity. It is not necessary to goto the gym and sweat it out, any passionate activity: which one likes and enjoys will be good break from the techno-world and indirectly increase our happiness and fitness.

Few tips I feel strongly about

  • No need to workout every day, just remember to try different activities each time.
  • Find your passion: easier to enjoy and spend time than consciously forcing to go to gym
  • Having a buddy helps, they force your lazy self and you can help them in return.
  • Health is not about slim or fat, just happiness and energetic. So, good to make a healthy choice, like walking while on phone; standing up for few hours in office; having “no-laptop” one hour in life and so on.

Few pictures shared by Karthika!
Half Dome Hike, Dance @ Intel, Santa Cruz Biking, Fun one going to work 😛

Interviewed by: Robin Garg (2007A3PS161P)


Meet BITSians in Sports: BITS2Fitness Fifth Interview: Vivek Gupta (BITS-Pilani’09)

Our Fifth Interviewee for “Meet the BITSians in Sports” series is Vivek Gupta (2005A3PS169P).

Vivek is Master of many trades and has been involved in Cricket, Badminton, Running, Bike Racing and Mountaineering.
After graduating from BITS-Pilani, Vivek moved to the US to pursue Masters degree from Purdue University in Electrical and Computer Engineering. From there, he started at NVIDIA Santa Clara as Hardware ASIC Engineer and have been working there ever since.

Enjoy reading about his interests and fitness mantras!

Name: Vivek Gupta
BITS ID: 2005A3PS169P

Sports/activities involved in and how did you get into playing these sports?
Since childhood, I have always been passionate about cricket, with special soft-corner for bowling. After joining Purdue University, I took cricket more seriously and started playing for the University team. Apart from local tournaments, I got involved in mid-west league matches as part of the Purdue team. I continued my passion for cricket after moving to California; further joined the cricket bay league and we even won the league trophy in 2012.
One day, I decided to try Badminton and joined an academy to play regularly with friends. Unfortunately, due to incorrect actions and over-usage, I suffered from labrum tear in my shoulder. Owing to this, I had to refrain from any over-head sports (which included both cricket and badminton). It took me roughly ten months to recover back to normal mode. But, these ten months proved a boon to my runner-side as I started running and hiking. Starting with 10Ks, I slowly ramped up to half-marathons and eventually completed Half dome (Yosemite) hike.
On recovering from the shoulder injury, I joined nVIdia badminton team; the Captain agreed to coach me. He helped me to learn the correct action and inherit the right foot work. I went on to represent the Nvidia team at the Bay Area Corporate-Tournament and have been constantly competing in open tournaments.
I am equally passionate about motorcycle racing and have tried the race tracks in and around here. Last month, I backpacked to Mount Whitney summit (the highest in mainland USA at 14500 ft) and hope to scale up the Everest one day.

What do you like the most about these sports?
I love playing sports. My favourite pastime is playing some kind of sports : ranging from cricket to badminton, basketball, volleyball and football with my friends. The good thing about playing is the requirement of excellent hand-leg-eye coordination and constant boost of stamina. It is the best stress buster and shortest route to fun-filled fitness workout.

How does these activities help you stay healthy?
Any sport that I play, does involve a full-body workout. And especially when you take a sport to a competitive level, you cannot afford to lose a game because of lack of fitness or health reasons. This is a big factor to constantly challenge oneself to push higher.

Do you take special care of your diet?
This is something I feel I lose out on, often. I have high metabolism and lean muscles – so have never really cared much about special diet. However, I have lately come to realize that special diet is extremely necessary for performance beyond a certain limit.  Along with added concern on my mineral/vitamin requirements. I have been trying to workout in the gym to gain muscular weight and to hone my stamina further. Though, I haven’t been too successful on giving up my favorite samosas and french-fries, but I have slowly increase my intake of protein-rich healthy diets.

How can someone absolutely new to your sports start playing it?(What could be a good start to get into these sports)
According to me, acclimatizing to a new sports depends on the person’s motivation and the choice of  the sport. Partially the reason I was able to quickly pick up badminton was because I was a bowler in cricket because of which I had a good control on over-arm actions.
For someone, who is totally new to badminton, one should simply start playing at will, initially and slowly try to realize the reason for every point lost in a game. With practice, the reasons for faulty shots will converge and this would be a good point to start coaching. Playing with experts will offer a different perspective and broaden the understanding of the sport. One can also start observing recorded games of international players and employ this knowledge in doing relative comparison with their strategies and movements.

What’s your next goal for your game(s)?
Stretching my Badminton capabilities is my short term goal. I would love to be a ‘B’ group player in the tournaments and compete with national/international level players in Group ‘A’. Another short-term goal is to pursue my motorcycle racing more intently. I would love to atleast do a knee drag and get into intermediate riders zone.
My long term goals are half Iron Man and highest-peaks hiking.

Any advice to the BITSian community on how to stay healthy and fit?
I would advise everyone to pursue one sport and take it to a competitive level. Competition is a motivation that pushes your limits and forces you to start thinking about your overall health and diet. At the same time, do not forget to enjoy the sport while playing it competitively. Any sport should be played with a good sense of sportsmanship and no person should be looked down upon for any reason in a sport.

Interviewed by: Robin Garg (2007A3PS161P)

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