by Kajal Desai
Meet our brown girl of the month of July, 2014!
Kajal Desai is co-founder of Doonya, a dance fitness and healthy lifestyle company that stands at the intersection of Indian and American philosophies on health and fitness.
As a face of the brand and mastermind behind Doonya’s curriculum, dance style and fitness formula, Kajal Desai has developed and standardized the technique around Bollywood movement so that it correctly translates into fitness media, classes and training programs. Kajal’s past life as a Organizational Management Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton with a Masters Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology plays a role in Doonya team development and training. Kajal is certified by the American Council of Exercise and has a lifetime’s worth of training in South Asian pop and classical dance forms, as well as years of training in hip-hop and jazz. Kajal’s most unique talent is her creative eye that allows her to take the influences that inspire her and formulate it into something everyone can access. Kajal began Doonya in 2005 in Washington, DC along with co-founder, Priya Pandya, and moved to Los Angeles in 2013 to expand the Doonya program along the West Coast. After training instructors in LA and San Diego, she is now happily settled in Houston, TX and ready to spread the joy of this happy workout to the South.
“If you asked me what I thought of myself 7-8 years ago, I would have said my hair was too frizzy, my stomach was too big, my lips were crooked, I had “thunder thighs” and I was completely flat-chested. I may have just written that in past tense but it turns out those things are all still just as true today as they were then (or how I saw them). The difference is that I now refuse to let my so-called flaws define me. Turns out when you let your inner light and passion shine through, the other stuff fades away. I have chosen to be remembered by who I am and work towards bettering that every day. I’m also extremely fortunate to use what I do for a living to encourage others do the same (and I can’t lie, it continues to have a great effect on me too!).
Doonya stemmed from a passion for dance — and I mean DANCE. I wanted to live my life on a stage. Teaching others was a way to make it a business but what I loved most was performing myself. But that all changed as I saw the impact that movement had on others. As I made a career out of teaching dance, I wanted to become more educated about the body and use that in my methodology. I saw changes in students’ understanding of body and movement connection, their overall strength and stamina, their actual physique, and most importantly, in their confidence.
My business partner and Doonya’s co-founder, Priya, had similar experiences in her classes and what started as dance grew into a focus on health and fitness. Using exercise allowed ANYONE to move without the intimidation of learning to dance. And now we truly see where we are meant to be and what we are meant to do – help women see their potential to control their bodies and create the person they want to be. We are all more than one note – we can be strong, silly, powerful, graceful, loving, compassionate, and fierce all in one. And it is those things that should define us and will only do so when we open our minds and free ourselves to let it. So yea, people still tease me about my hair, but I also know the curls and the frizz reflects my whimsical personality ;) I still get upset from time to time when I see a little fat fall over my pants, but then I think about what I’ve pushed my body to do and how much I’ve grown. I put a big (crooked) smile on my face and shine through it all. And I know each of you can do the same.”
– Kajal Desai