When Chitra Rochlani, our NJMOMprenuer of the week, lost 80 pounds, she didn’t just gain a new body—she also found a new approach to life. Realizing that other women could benefit from her life-changing method, she set out to share her empowering philosophy—and opened Fit Warrior Life to teach others how to put fitness, nutrition, and a changed mindset together for a lifetime of lasting results. Now, at a time where we’re all navigating the challenges of COVID-19, she’s taken her business virtual, addressing issues like emotional eating and prioritizing fitness while at home. We sat down with this Livingston mama of two to hear what her clients have taught her about motherhood, how she’s supporting other NJ businesses through the pandemic, and why an outlook is everything when it comes to health.
featured image via MikiFoto + Co
Your business grew from your journey—take us through your own story of transformation and how it propelled you to start Fit Warrior Life.
I struggled with weight all my life. I tried multiple diet trends and gyms from the age of 15, but somehow the weight always crept back up (with interest). Finally, in 2014, I found myself frustrated and fed up with all the weight loss programs out there. That’s when I came across a program that worked on my body and my mind. I had the opportunity to learn from some amazing coaches who helped me lose 80 pounds and changed my life. After that, I realized that there were a lot of programs selling quick fixes or incomplete information, but nobody was helping people put fitness, nutrition, and a mindset together. After seeing the impact that combination had on my life, I knew I had to pay it forward. I decided to get my certifications and became a fitness and nutrition coach and that’s how my business was born.
Right now, you’ve had to make some major changes in how you’re helping your clients. How have you adapted your business during the current pandemic?
I think I went into this pandemic just like everyone else and wasn’t sure how to feel. While some of my existing clients continued to work out with me virtually, others had to stop for multiple reasons. My business was affected but in the light of everything happening, I didn’t feel good about marketing to attract new clients. So, I just watched what was going on around me and tried to come up with ways to help my community.
I heard people talk about eating as a way to cope with their emotional distress and I created a 6-step plan of attack to help them overcome emotional eating and have been offering it online in different communities. I knew that eating right and working out is crucial for building strong immunity and staying healthy, so I began offering a free virtual class each week. I also invited a few coaches to create a community boot camp fundraiser and together we raised over $1,200 for Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a charity that helps families dealing with COVID-related hardships.
After the first month, I created a virtual monthly boot camp membership and have been running classes 3 times a week. The response I’ve gotten is amazing—I think people are seeking a sense of normalcy and getting a good workout is a way of feeling good and working off some of the day-to-day stress. I am so grateful for the support I have received from the community and the technology that helps me continue to share my knowledge, passion, and work with my clients.
How has your personal experience and what you’ve learned through your business shaped the way you speak to your kids about nutrition, exercise, and body image?
My weight loss journey was life-changing for me. Not only did I shed 80 pounds, but I also broke multiple barriers, both physical and mental, and gained a stronger belief in myself. As I cleaned up my food choices, my kids began getting curious about my choices and wanted to taste my meals. Before I knew it, they were asking for my veggies and healthy proteins and I had to start cooking more and more healthy foods. My 16-year-old asked me to train him and my 12-year-old loves doing mini-workouts with me as well. He is also my junk food lover, so we work and bond over making cleaner versions of our favorite desserts. I think by seeing me work hard towards my personal and professional goals, they realize that there is nothing they can’t do—they are truly my biggest cheerleaders.
What have your business and your clients taught you about yourself and motherhood?
As moms, everything we do revolves around our kids and our families and we tend to put everyone else’s needs before our own. But when you put your needs on the back burner, you’re doing yourself and your loved ones a huge disservice. If you don’t take the time for your health and wellbeing or do the things that fuel your passion and purpose, you’re not giving the world the best version of yourself. So, the biggest lesson I have learned is to fill your cup so you can serve from a state of overflow and joy. We all deserve to feel fulfilled and empowered so we can show up as the best version of ourselves. It seems easy in theory, but to do that, you also need to constantly work on yourself and surround yourself with a tribe of positive, uplifting, empowered women.
How are you supporting your favorite local businesses right now (virtually or otherwise)?
As a local small business owner, I realize how important it is to support other local businesses. Some of the things I’ve been doing are sharing and highlighting local business owners on my own social media pages and groups, like burnout expert and coach Caitlin Donovan. We have been ordering food from local restaurants like Mezza in Livingston, and ice cream from Last Licks in East Hanover. I’ve also ordered books from The Book House in Millburn, NJ for my virtual book club. I’ve found ways to partner with people in the health and wellness industry like Rama Ginde of Wannabee Chef. When I’m looking for gifts for my family, friends, and clients, I’ve been trying to buy local. Scooch a Mi in Chatham is a favorite. And overall for my sanity and resilience, I turn to my BIG (Believe, Inspire, Grow) sisters. The local NJ founder of the women’s empowerment group has created a virtual space to give women the inspiration, tools, and community to grow their passions and businesses. I have met some amazing women through this network who continue to support me and have my back.
What do you wish someone told you when you were first starting as an NJMOMpreneur?
I wish someone had told me not to run my business from a place of fear—I was always afraid to put myself out there. I didn’t have a lot of role models in my family who ran their own business, but I’m so glad I broke the mold and stepped into my power. Most female business owners I know are super talented, efficient, and passionate about the products and services they offer, but they are afraid to stand out for fear of being judged and critiqued. It’s like we’ve been conditioned to hide in the shadows and won’t step out until someone pushes us to do so. You don’t see men do that, right? As a society, we need to educate ourselves, surround ourselves with role models and show up boldly to let our light shine bright so that we can enlighten and empower other women and girls to do the same.