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Talwalkars head-hunting top talent

Prashant Talwalkar

India’s oldest and largest chain of fitness centres, Talwalkar’s Better Value Fitness Ltd., has mushroomed from the suburbs of Mumbai into a pan-India chain that offers the most modern and scientific gyms, spas, training and nutrition consultancy.

It is now eyeing sports clubs in the luxury segment in the country: another pioneering effort in the private sector. bodyLIFE spoke to Prashant Talwalkar, its Managing Director & CEO, and a fitness buff himself, about the upcoming project:

You have been into fitness studios so far. Why the change to sports?
That’s the nearest thing I can think of – from health club to luxury sports clubs. I have expertise in looking after people who come every single day to my gyms. It is a very service-intensive industry. So, a club is not very far from that.

I am trying to bring in internationally competitive quality, with the best of equipment  and the best of all facilities, which will include even restaurants. We will also have the best of trainers. The next level for us as a brand would be to get into premium quality clubs.

What would these sports clubs offer to its members?
We plan to open sports clubs that will have all the facilities – right from swimming to tennis and table tennis, squash to badminton to billiards... name the game and we’ll have it! Alongside there will be training and mentoring, programmes for injury prevention and rehabilitation.

How soon is this plan unfolding?
Our first sports club is coming up in Pune, 170 km from Mumbai. We have purchased the land. I am hopeful that, with everything going well, we should be able to throw it open to our members by the year-end.

What is the type of expertise and resources you’re looking to bring from abroad?
Management... And of course techniques, skills and a knowledge of all things new. One good guy with that work culture, with the right personality, will make a huge difference. For management, I would prefer somebody who is fit and knows about the subject and can run a show. If I get that kind of people, the possibility is high that we can go in good numbers in the sports club category. Today I’m recruiting people from all over the world. Bringing in people from abroad will be an attraction; it will speed up our plans. I’ve been talking to many people in the US, UK, and in India too. Among them are managers, trainers, coaches, physiotherapists and house-keeping experts.

What are the challenges you foresee in roping in these resources?
India can be tough terrain for foreigners: the food, the people, the noise and pollution. Training the current staff is one part of their responsibility, instilling in them a great work ethic and management culture is the other. But I’m sure it will all work out.

That said, Talwalkar’s are a brand to reckon with, and the brand value is appreciating as we go along. The suppliers, for example, are aware that India is growing and want to associate with people who are pioneers.
Interested in these projects? Get in touch with [email protected].



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