Sarani Tilleketratne   began documenting her fitness journey on Instagram at the end of 2016. She admits that although her primary motive for getting into fitness was due to her being overweight – “I have a fat-storing body, by nature. I was overweight before and was just sharing my weight loss journey on Instagram to try and motivate others” – that eventually, she found herself changing for the better as a person, due to her new fitness and well-being focused lifestyle.

Sarani Tillekeratne

sarani before and after picture from ig: physique.by.sari

 

This motivated Sarani to study fitness and pursue the possibility of joining this industry full time as a personal trainer and fitness coach. It was in 2017 that this dream came to light as she officially started the Physique by Sari brand – becoming one of the first (and most sought after, to date) fitness instructors in Sri Lanka.

When asked about the challenges she faced during her journey, Sarani admits, that as is in the case of many other industries, that fitness too has its pitfalls in growing and support for local entrepreneurs. However, her biggest challenge, and perhaps a blessing in disguise was when she was diagnosed with Insertional Achilles Tendonitis (the degeneration of the Achilles tendon fibres, where the tendon inserts into the heel bone), forcing her to press pause on personal training and focus more on the online training market.

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By 2019 Sarani had identified a potential market for online training in Sri Lanka but failed to see growth in this market. It was in fact during the recent unprecedented times following the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown that true growth in this market began. Fortunately, for Sarani, she had already dipped her toe in the online training market and was able to adapt quickly and efficiently to customer needs, capturing a larger part of the growing market. Commenting Sarani noted “This market has grown exponentially, particularly with women. Most women like to work out at home, and in fact, we’ve seen the results. It is feasible to tone up, strengthen your body and even build muscle training from home. It just requires dedication and the right, experienced trainer to take your goals and turn them into realities, whilst educating you on different fitness and nutrition facets to guide you.”

Whilst it is commonly known that Physique by Sari aims at motivating, engaging and educating audiences to get into fitness and learn about your body, it is interesting to know that Sarani advocates for fitness education through training, providing a holistic approach to fitness for her customers. “Over the years I saw fitness being twisted into a lot of things. There’s a lot of information out there, some of that can be contradicting at times, and of course confusing. With Sri Lankan audiences I want to, yes, motivate them to reach their fitness goals, and of course, be a part of their journey, but I want to educate them to understand their body, the benefits of different types of workouts, food & nutrition and so much more. I want to do away with common misconceptions, it was for this reason that I put a pause on motivating at one point and started educating – and you will clearly see this with our social media strategy.”

Sarani Tillekeratne

When asked about her advice to young trainers and fitness fanatics who want to break into the fitness industry, Sarani commented “I already see a lot of young people who start to workout, love it and share their fitness journey. To be honest, if my clients had their own fitness page I’d love it. I believe this makes them more accountable to showcase their results and continue their fitness journey. However, having said that I do also see a lot of young influencers who are trying their hand at fitness. My advice is to be a responsible coach or personal trainer – you are taking care of another individual’s body. You have to have the knowledge of how workout techniques are executed, correctly; you need to know how to make a schedule for someone with aches and pains. It’s not one size fits all for everyone, schedules are customised, tailor-made for their need, as well as their safety.” Concluding Sarani stated, “if you’re new to personal training, I’d recommend to work out at a lot of gyms, gain your experience, learn from other trainers, study about nutrition, etc. Fitness isn’t a game, there is a science to it and there are very real dangers around it, if not done correctly.”

As Physique by Sari continues to be one of Sri Lanka’s fastest-growing, most sought after fitness brands, Sarani let the team at The Entrepreneur Online in on a little secret: The brand will be launching its own studio in the coming months.

Concluding Sarani noted, “I want to keep educating my audience and I want to let them know fitness is not a quick fix. It’s a lifestyle because you love yourself and you will love yourself, even more, when you start seeing results”.

Ianthe Yatawatte Raj

Ianthe is a graduate in Public Relations from the University of West London and currently heads Strategic Marketing as a Director at Quire (Pvt) Ltd (Sri Lanka)

Clayton Durant

Ianthe Yatawatte Raj

Ianthe is a graduate in Public Relations from the University of West London and currently heads Strategic Marketing as a Director at Quire (Pvt) Ltd (Sri Lanka)