The term Swag, a very often used slang, stands for 'stylish confidence'. This group of homemakers and mothers from Greater Noida West ooze with an ample amount of Swag. It is apt that the members of this 'all women cycling group' have named their group SWAG (Super Women Athlete Group). The best part of the SWAG team is that you can find here women from every age group.
SWAG, is an all-women cycling group formed after the Covid-19 lockdown 2020, by Bhawan Gaur, to help improve the fitness of Noida women. Gaur says, “It was the crucial Covid period for all of us. It was at that time that I decided to start getting our lives back on the right track, health-wise and lead a healthy lifestyle. There is no better full-body workout than cycling. The very next day I bought myself a bicycle. That day my journey of SWAG started.”
Post-COVID pandemic we all saw a boost in cycling culture. Many middle-class people, who till now ignored a cycle, took it up for its health benefits and also for the fact that it helps maintain social distancing while exercising. Bhawna Gaur started this group with her friend, Barnali Mahela and now the SWAG team has five core members with about 100 members. Gaur added, “We have around 100 members in our group and few of them make themselves involved in cycling and others run or jog."
Members of the SWAG team shared that the one thing that they love about this group is that they all come from different professions, age and backgrounds and occupations but the common thread they share is cycling.
To motivate the group members, Gaur shared that they created a what's app group, where everyone can post about their daily activities. Here the members also post their cycling-related daily activities, ride schedule, and daily cycling score to keep all the members motivated.
Gaur shared her feelings about how her family supported her. Says she, “My whole family especially my husband and my kids feel proud of me for creating this cycling group. My husband says that I took some good steps for the betterment of society. It is the biggest achievement of my life that my whole family is inspired and motivated by me. In the process, we have been successful in motivating other society members too. I want to take the swag group to the next level. We welcome new members who are unable to manage their work-life balances.”
In a talk with CitySpidey, members get nostalgic about their school time while cycling with their friends. According to SWAG members, cycling is not only for their health benefits, it helps them to reduce their stress. Now, for them, cycling is part of their daily activity.
Barnali Mahela (40), a Biology teacher shared her journey with the SWAG group. She says, “It was 2020. The day lockdown started, cycling became the activity of choice for me. I was riding when I chanced upon my friend Bhawna who was on the same cycling track. From there, my journey with SWAG started. My husband was literally shocked when I paddled on the road. He thought of me as a weak person and felt that cycling was beyond me. Being a full-time working mother, it was difficult for me initially."
In the starting, it was not easy for Barnali Mahela. She shared that her body was adjusting to a totally different activity. Her stamina was limiting her number of kilometres to a single digit. She ended up sleeping for the entire day due to complete exhaustion. Maintaining regularity was difficult for her. Issues like body pain, back pain, muscle pain were other deterrents. says she, "But some internal motivation and some positive peer pressure helped me a lot. Today cycling has become a part of my daily routine.”
Meet another member of the SWAG team, Tanu Bhargava (36), who works in a Multi-National Company. She shared that motivating each other for cycle rides is a key feature of SWAG Group. The best thing she liked about the SWAG group members was the passion they had for cycling.
“I used to pedal out my cycle alone earlier on the roads of Greater Noida. One day I posted a query on social media “Is there any cyclist or cycling group in Greater Noida”. After that, I got Bhawna's reply and I joined her and SWAG group. I can never forget this day because that day was Christmas day in 2021. It seemed as if Santa Claus gave me such a precious group and so many lovely friends as gifts. From then on my cycle journey started where I did the first ride of 30kms with the SWAG group."
She adds, “Though it is not easy to manage everything as I am also working but if we have a correct mindset and we are passionate about something then managing the things becomes very easier. Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears that we never use. Women should be involved in some physical activity so that they take care of their physical health too. Our goal is to motivate women of all ages to do physical exercise to keep fit and healthy.”
Now meet Shashi Bala (38), who has always been into sports. She is an entrepreneur and social activist. Her journey started with SWAG in 2021. She says, “We all met in a cycling event. We all bonded gradually and started to think of taking SWAG to another level where all women can be empowered. I like the way our group members are so positive and enthusiastic. Together we all explore every corner of our city, nature and everything. We get to meet newer people, we make memories for life and go with the flow.”
She shared a message to all the women and says, “My very message to all the women, not only in Greater Noida, but to every woman, from city to village is, you don't need to stay on the same level, always push yourself to the next, and show everyone and yourself that you can dream, believe and achieve.”
Shashi Bala shared that It's quite hectic sometimes, to balance her work, home, and cycling together, but according to her giving up is never an option. She adds, “I make sure to give my best in my rides and give my family time and again wake up with the same energy the next day. Well, cycling wasn't that difficult, but getting up early and getting ready was one of the challenges I faced.”
Now meet our Doctor athlete, Abhiruchi Singhai (33). She is a medical doctor profession. She started cycling by borrowing her neighbour's cycle. soon she got into it and got her own bike. “It's not easy to be on a cycle. Initially many people around me criticised me saying that my craze for cycling will last only for a week or a month after that cycle will be in the dustbin. So I started by using my neighbour's cycle. After some time when I bought my own cycle, I felt very happy as if I have bought a sedan."
She says, “In a busy schedule or with a small kid it’s hard to find a group of enthusiastic females who wants to be fit. In SWAG, what I like the most is the friendship we share. There is no boss, no guide, no instructor, only support care or love.”