Shreya rolls with life's punches in boxing ring 


Shreya Karia is the founder of SHK Consulting. FILE PHOTO | POOL

Shreya Karia does not pull punches. In fact, when she speaks, you get an alchemy of the razzmatazz of boxing great Muhammad Ali underlying the ferocious tenacity of ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson.

She has always been a promising prospect, but the path from promise to promised land must be matriculated, all its obstacles surmounted.

Surmount, she did—if her story of struggling with confidence is anything to go by. In 2012, she found her marbles and left formal employment to found SHK Consulting, a bespoke brand agency that has its cherry-pick of high-end clients: Fairmont Hotels, French beverage company Pernod Ricard, Cottar’s Safari Camp, Spanish fashion retailer Mango, Frank Knight’s Annual Wealth Report, Superbrands, among others.

Eight years later, she was bagging accolades, chief among them the 2020 Africa’s Women Leaders.

On one hand, she is a workaholic, and on the other, she is a fitness-holic (if you allow us to take liberties with the English language).

When she is not working, she is either teaching a spin class, or she is boxing. Boxing has taught her how to dodge life’s power-packed punches, or at least withstand them.

Perhaps then it would be more accurate to say that she has it all figured out, moving with the fearless precision of high-wire artist Philippe Petite with boxing gloves on.

Contrary, she says. She just learned to roll with the punches. We are at the Artcaffé Gastro Bar, a select client of hers, where the ambiance complements her chutzpah: vibes on vibes. Like their cocktails, she too packs quite the punch.

What's the story behind your fitness journey?

Fitness was ingrained in me from childhood by my parents. You learn it faster at a young age than when you have to teach yourself as an older person. With fitness, there's also a little vanity because everyone works out to look better, and feel better. For me, it is largely an outlet for channelling stress at work and a problem-solving tool.

Why boxing?

Boxing and spinning help me navigate through life. To an outsider, it looks like people beating each other up, but to an insider, it’s a game of strategy and manoeuvrability.

When you try and box in an angry state of mind, nothing comes of it. But when you are calm, that’s when the hardest punches land, and in that way, life imitates art, and boxing becomes a mirror for life.

I love spin because it is uplifting. When you show up on the days you don’t want to or have to, you build resilience. And that’s how you get through life.

How often do you work out? 

I teach [spin class] once a week because of [work] commitments. But on my own, I work out religiously six to seven times a week minimum. There are some days I work out twice — 60 minutes of boxing and 45 minutes of spin.

What does fitness mean to you? 

Resilience. And believing I can do anything. I use fitness as a coping mechanism. When I doubted myself, it was the one thing that kept me grounded.

Aha. Tell me about that period.

Years back, my self belief was grazing the ground. I never backed myself. However, I'm not the kind of person who depends on someone else to feel better.

I decided to throw myself into working out, and the more I did, the better I felt. But more importantly, it gave me the impetus to back myself. 


Shreya Karia is the founder of SHK Consulting. FILE PHOTO | POOL

Busy as you are, where do you find the time to balance all these plates? 

This will sound cliché but if you really want to do something you will find the time. How many people are busy and still find time for social media? Can you trade off a few minutes to work out? Anything is possible if you decide what is important to you.

What is important to you? 

The work. The pain of regret is far more than the pain of work. I am not afraid of the work, but the regret that will eat me alive.

You seem very disciplined. What is the one thing you struggle with? 

Procrastinating. I have lists til Kingdom come—all printed! Oh, and I don’t have the language to say no to dessert. I eat clean—I am a vegan—but dessert has my number.

What soundtrack is playing when you are working out? 

Depending on my mood, it will take me a week to curate a playlist. Music will either lift, deflate or motivate you. If it’s an early morning workout, electro-instrumental and high-energy music. Boxing is always hip-hop. For spin, it’s vibes and global beats.

When you think of the weekend what food comes to mind? 

That would be home-cooked food that I made. I love to bake, sadly though, work has a knack for coming in the way. Ah, I know I told you all about if something is important to you but baking needs time! (laughs)

What’s the last thing you do before lights go out on a weekend? 

Listen to a podcast. Sport-related podcasts, especially tennis and (global) politics-related podcasts.

What’s a weekend hack not many people know?

You have to start your Saturday morning with a really good workout. Not the emails or your house chores, no, just work out. Later, you can schedule a social-catchup workout, maybe go to Karura (forest) for an evening walk, cycling, etc.

That is a shared experience that doesn’t involve getting drunk. It’s a great way to get outside. You never know what someone is going through—maybe it’s what that person needs to feel alive again!

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