I often get asked, “Shikha when will India become a powerhouse for sports and win more gold medals at the Olympics?” More often than not, I nod, smile and say, “we are getting there.” And we are. However, the truth is, we will get there a lot faster if we stop counting other people’s medals and start with ourselves.” 

I have been privileged to play a sport for over two thirds of my life and professionally, for over a decade. It was an honor to play tennis for 1.3 billion people, wear the tiranga on my sleeves, and be part of a collective conscious that wants India to rise to the super power she is destined to be. However, being a champion for India doesn’t stop with “game, set, match.” It begins with responsibility for the health and happiness of every individual. 

Today, I am at the forefront of enabling that. The stark reality is that we live in a country where malnutrition and obesity co-exist and ever so blatantly. It’s a conundrum that can only fix itself, one person at a time. If we, as Indians don’t make fitness, sports, and eating healthy a family value, how can we expect medals? Overfeeding children, poor diets, forcing exams and tuitions that cut into sports and fitness time, inadequate rest and the general theory that fitness and academics are mutually exclusive are what cost us those desired gold medals year in and year out. 

Furthermore, women, I’m talking to you first and foremost here, we set the family values, we uphold family culture and we perpetuate the national culture because we are the biological caregivers. On top of that, we pass down vital athletic genes! So ladies, if you aren’t promoting healthy eating, working out yourselves, and passing those habits onto your children, you are not leading the disruption that is so desperately required. 

To get to my point, until health and fitness become family values, led by the women, we can’t expect the medals we want. I personally, can’t go a day without getting some sort of fitness in. Moving is what makes me feel alive. I love my power yoga paired with a good cardio session and weights. I enjoy dancing so much, its pure joy in motion. If there are those days where I’m just unable to get to the gym, I slip on my Nikes and run outside my house or sometimes even in my house. It looks weird but my health is actually my wealth. I’m not just quoting a cheesy line, studies have proven that people who are fit make more money than those who aren’t. Got you motivated now right? 

The values of fitness and a healthy lifestyle have direct effect on my success as an entrepreneur today. I actually love working hard, I can prevent injuries that occur from sitting in front of computers too long, my attention and energy at meetings, any time of the day or night, are always spot on and because I work out, I’m a happier person. Thank you endorphins. 

In short, if you work out, everyone wins, you, your family and India. Finally, to borrow my sister Neha’s tag line, “live your best” and go for your gold. 

Shikha Uberoi is an Indian-American professional tennis player Make it- and a former India No. 1