Bachpan se, we have been taught about how important it is to stay fit and healthy. Fit raho aur aish karo. We have someone very special at your Adda who have taken this seriously and made a career out of it. He is the brains behind one of the top health blogs. Let us welcome Dhruv Gupta of FITHO for this special interview. Learn how you can get some respite after the hectic hogging in the marriage season. Also, we have something very special at the end of the interview. Don’t miss that.
Q: When and why did you start blogging?
A: I started blogging in 2008.
Q: What topics do you generally blog about?
A: I only blog about health & fitness related topics, since that is the core of Fitho.
Q: How important is it for the blogger to interact with their readers? Do you respond to all the comments that you receive?
A: Rather than interact, I lay focus on connecting with readers. What I mean is that its important to write something for your readers really. That’s when readers connect with you.
We respond to the comments, emails, phone calls… everything.
Q: What made you start Fitho and what was your vision when you started the website?
A: I always knew I wanted to do something in health & fitness in India, due to the large need. Since I didn’t know what, Fitho was started as a medium to reach out to create real awareness of health & fitness among Indian people for two reasons.
Over time, readers started requesting for help to get fitter. So, in 2009, I formulated a business plan, and in Jan 2010, we hired a small team of 4 people (including myself) to serve Fitho clients.
So, Fitho went from a blog to being a business. Currently our team strength is over 10 people, and serve clients in many countries across the world, helping them get fitter and healthier through weight loss plans & other fitness plans. We even do marathon training!
- Current awareness levels of correct knowledge are rather low. They tend to be hear-say based.
- Indians are getting unhealthy, and I think that’s going to be a big problem in this country. Indians have a genetic tendency towards diabetes & heart health. Combined with our lifestyle habits, India is slated to the diabetes capital of the world very soon!
Q: Fitho strives for healthier life with some good tips and a lot of information on being healthy. We would like to know more about Dhruv and his personal & professional life apart from Fitho. What are his passions and interests other than being healthy?
A: Brief of my professional life: I’m a software engineer from the University of Michigan. Then, I did consulting in the US with PricewaterhouseCoopers. I co-founded a social network, DesiMartini, which was acquired by Hindustan Times. I was heading the business at HT Media for a few years, and then I started Fitho.
Passions: Fitness (of course), Travel, Food (eating and cooking) & Photography (I did start a photo blog a couple of times, but I never managed to keep it updated).
Q: Recently, you attempted to get 6 pack abs in 24 days. Was this an achievable thought? Tell us more about it. What is the next health goal on your list?
A: Yes, I did, and I even blogged all those 24 days (www.24daysixpack.com). It was achievable thought for me, since I’m already quite fit, and it was about sticking to the plan, to get the results. The effort was also covered by Men’s Health and Wall Street Journal newspaper, Mint.
Q: Where do you want Fitho to be next? It may be in the form of opening your own restaurant, a gym or writing a book about your learnings. What can we look forward from Fitho in future?
A: It’s already a service business. Currently, we are looking to grow the service, reach people, and really help them. There are lots of plans for the future. The most exciting currently, is that we have recently launched Weight Loss Holidays.
Q: Location is not a problem for all those who want to avail your Fitho plans. How do you manage to design a plan like this? What kind of details do you generally require to suggest a plan?
A: We’ve figured out that to design a good plan, what’s important is to get the right information about your lifestyle, and correctly use it to build a good plan for you.
Our team consists of nutritionists & fitness experts, who work with each client to design an effective plan for them.
Each plan contains details around nutrition & exercise, that can help you achieve your goal, whatever that might be.
Q: You had supported the Go Red Sari initiative in 2009 and the Fight Against Obesity & Diabetes in 2010. What do you think are the top 10 health threats that we face in India? Which one is your target for 2011 and what are the 5 health myths that most Indians have?
A: India is truly a land of paradoxes. On one hand, most of our country lives under the poverty line and a large portion malnutritioned. On the other, we are at the brink of an epidemic of lifestyle disorders, like obesity, heart health, diabetes. Both these sides have a significant fallout of health threats for India.
Q: What kind of lifestyle changes would you suggest to counter the above threats? What simple tips would you suggest to people with long working hours in offices? Though, it would depend on individuals, what five things would you say is a must for daily intake?
A: Basically, eating right & getting exercise.
The only reason we face lifestyle disorders, is because we’re not following the basic rules of a healthy lifestyle – eating balanced meals and physical activity
Long working hours are an excuse. Just take out 20 min a day, for some kind of physical activity and you would be healthier.
There are no ‘must intake’ foods that we recommend, since everything can be eaten, as long as it’s the right proportion.
Q: Anorexia, Bulimia and other eating disorders are seen very prominently in women worldwide. Do you think it is growing as frequently in India as well? What are the reasons for women to fall into this unhealthy trap? Which celebrity/model do you think is the most healthy of all and why? What is your take on the size-zero hype in the industry?
A: Size zero hype is great, since it gets people thinking of their bodies. Vanity can also lead to good health.
Anorexia and Bulimia is talked about as more of an eating disorder, but there are more people with food addictions, and thus their weight problems. Few countries recognize ‘under weight’ as a bigger problem than ‘overweight’ people.
Q: Indian cuisine contains lot of veggies, herbs and pulses. But it also has many downfalls which you mentioned in one of your post. What is the right way to cook the Indian food so that it remains healthy as well? Which Indian ingredients are a boon to a healthy lifestyle?
A: Couple of tips for cooking:
- Don’t over cook the food, since it leaches all the nutrition.
- Oil is a cooking medium. Not the main ingredient of the food. So use the right amount, that you can still appreciate the natural flavour of the the food.
The use of spices are a boon to healthy lifestyle. They’re loaded with health benefits!
Q: There’s a thin line between being healthy and going over board with it. We would like you to explain that difference. How can a person identify when he’s overdoing it?
A: Its quite relative, but if you yourself don’t feel ‘healthy’, then you might be overdoing it.
Q: There are many weight loss infomercials on TV which claim to help you lose weight easily and quickly through their products. Are all of them based on false claims? What do you think about these easy methods of weight loss?
A: If it was so easy to lose weight, wouldn’t the Western world not be facing an obesity problem. We get clients for ‘easy, fast, no effort weight loss’ everyday. We tell them, that you made a lot of effort to gain weight- so much food, so many years, and you want to reverse it right now?!
Q: Do you ever get stuck when writing an entry? What do you do then?
A: I’ve never gotten stuck till now. Health/fitness is so close to my heart, that I’m yet to be thoughtless about an article.
Q: Do you promote your blog? What promotional techniques work best for you and why?
A: Fitho started as a blog in 2008. Now, the blog platform actually serves as a website to a full business that employs over 10 people, and has clients in over 10 countries.
So, in short, yes, we do promote our website.
We use many methods to promote
- SEO: Writing good content & optimizing the site.
- Social Media: The blog itself is the most basic form of it. We have a newsletter, and use Facebook and Twitter to reach out to people. On Facebook, we have over 8000 fans.
Q: What do you find to be the most gratifying aspect of blogging?
A: Seeing the traffic go up!
Q: How, in general, would you rate the quality of Indian blogs? Share your favourite five blogs.
A: There are some great Indian blogs out there. I don’t read blogs as much as news sources.
Q: What is your advice to someone who wants to start a blog?
A: Find out what you really care about, and want to tell people, and start it now!
Q: Do you earn revenue through your blog? How does one go about it?
A: We have done some monetization with brands through microsites, some brand building. We’ve debated with ‘sponsored reviews’ but are yet to really bite into it. Google ads are really simple to use, and we’ve used them in the past, and occasionally now.
Q: What is the future of blogging according to you?
A: Blogging is basically a form of self expression. It will move in the same direction as media/technology, of faster, smaller consumption: video blogs, micro blogs, mobile blogs, voice blogs.
But the basic text based blogging might never go away, since its no intrinsic to our nature.
Q: Let’s conclude off with a few favorites.
Movie: Shawshank Redemption.
TV Show: Anthony Bordain.
Time of Day: Morning.
Your Zodiac Sign: Saggitarius.
Impressed? All set to get Fit? Fitho has something very special for the BlogAdda readers. They are giving out Free weight loss (or fitness) plans for 30 days. What are you waiting for? Subscribe and get Fit now. If you have any health queries or anything related to general fitness, Dhruv would be happy to help.