Behind the Glow with Swarna Naidu


"It's not about getting things right or trying to compete with the person next to you, it's just about you and your goals, and trying to be better every day." This is Behind the Glow with Swarna Naidu.

My name is Swarna Naidu, and I'm based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

I actually just started as someone who was passionate about fitness before I even started instructing. I've just been doing a lot of classes because I like the whole fun element of fitness. 

I teach Spin and Boxing classes, and I’ve also designed my own program which incorporates my experience in ballet. It’s called Ballet Course.  

In the fitness industry, it seems like everyone has a story of what’s led them to become trainers. What’s yours?
Do you remember the moment when you realized you want to be a trainer?

I moved to the city when I was about 17 and I lived just down the road from the gym that I teach at now. 

This was a couple of years ago, I was going through a really rough patch at the time and there was this one class with one particular instructor, her name was Jess and I would always go to her classes.

One time I even cried tears of joy after her class. I don't know what it was but I knew that it was something else, it wasn't just physical. If you did it right you had the capacity to make it so much more impactful than just something you do to lose weight or whatever, it's so much more than that. 

And that was definitely the moment that inspired me to take on this path.

Also, I wasn’t in the healthiest state when I started, and seeing myself become so much better and so much healthier was obviously inspiring.

I knew that I wanted to do that for other people as well.

What are your 3 favorite parts of the fitness industry?

I love the community, that's definitely something special that everyone help lift each other up. It's not competitive. 

When people are training on their own everyone’s encouraging people and it's such a nice energy. That's definitely something I love.

Also, your self-discipline and your intrinsic values grow as a person once you start doing fitness properly because you see a different side of yourself. So that's really awesome. And just understanding your capabilities and what you can do it's awesome. 

Finally, I think it would just be seeing the growth of it over the years and how it's evolved. It used to be a lot of the classic gym type scenes, and now it’s seeing the growth of so many different boutique studios doing different things, trying and making it fun, we've got different kinds of exercises that you can do. So that's really fun as well.

What are some of the main struggles you think fitness trainers face? And how do you think they can be solved?

I can only speak from experience in teaching group classes, but a strong struggle is that it's quite tough that everyone’s body is different and you can't make everyone do a squat the same way, so that definitely is a huge challenge in terms of making it efficient and effective for them.

And also making sure that their safety is a top priority. You don't want anybody getting hurt so that's definitely a constant thing that you just need to work on. 

I try my best to always keep an eye out on everybody's form. Throughout my classes, I constantly correct them as we go

How are you pivoting or dealing with everything as a trainer right now? And how do you think it has shaped you as a trainer?

 It’s definitely not been easy, I think that in the past couple of months a lot of people have kind of shifted to online and tried to design programs online, which I also did try to do for a while but as I mentioned earlier, it's already tough enough to watch people when they're physically there and monitor their form it's going to be 10 times tougher doing it online, when they're not even there. So I can't see anybody clearly.

I tried that out for a while but I really didn't want to do too much of it because I felt like maybe it's not the safest thing at this point. 

But I did have a lot of one-on-one consultations instead of teaching group classes and also give them a proper training plan for the months that we wouldn't be in the gym.

I do think that it reinforced my love for fitness. Just because you don't have the gym and the equipment it doesn't mean that you can't do what you love and still lead a healthy lifestyle so that was really good.

I also started looking at the other elements of fitness, apart from just the exercise. 

How do you think COVID will affect our industry in the years to come?  

Most obviously I think all of the measures that have been implemented with social distancing and our hygiene practices are obviously gonna change the way that we work in gyms, so that's becoming the new normal. 

Online programs have gained a lot of popularity, but I think that even though it has existed and was available before, people just weren't comfortable with using it. And now that we've been sort of forced to use it, we see that okay, it's not so bad. 

Maybe people are gonna take on to this a little bit more but in terms of classes, I think that slowly, everything will get back to normal and there's just something about being at the gym, nothing can beat that feeling and that energy you get when you're in there. 

What are some of the fitness trends and mentalities in your country?

Working out has gained a lot of popularity in Malaysia, especially in the city, it's definitely becoming more of a lifestyle. It’s definitely changing for the better. More people are becoming physically aware and choosing to make healthier life choices.

I think the mentality here is that we want to just be done with the workout as quickly as possible. It needs to be fun, it needs to be entertaining, and it needs to be short. 

What is the greatest piece of advice you can give other trainers from your experience?

I think the greatest piece of advice is to really commit to what you do and be passionate about it. Because if there's no love in what you do you're just not gonna be good at it. There's no other easy way to say it. 

When you love what you do, that's when people are really going to gain the most out of it. When you're invested in your clients and the relationship that you form with them, it's so rewarding because I see my clients every day and just knowing where they were a couple of months ago and where they are now, and knowing that you had something to do with that - nothing can beat that feeling. 

Favorite workout song - Change the way you kiss me. It just gets me going, it’s a classic. 

Favorite cheat meal - I bake a lot, so any cake!

Fitness trainer that inspires you - I have quite a few, but I really like Jillian Michaels. She's Great. Her journey has been so inspiring and just who she is is very empowering for women. 

Your motto - Progress over perfection. It's not about getting things right or trying to compete with the person next to you, it's just about you and your goals, and trying to be better every day.

Find Swarna on Instagram at @nique2907

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