Akash Korgaonkar: Dreaming of a fitter India
How to make fitness more exciting and less boring was the existential question that drove Akash Korgaonkar to take up fitness as his entrepreneurial pursuit. An ironman triathlon finisher, Akash is the founder of Ruggedian, a sports, adventure and lifestyle company which organises marathons, obstacle races and corporate training programmes with an aim to democratise fitness by making it fun to participate.
Akash once had an opportunity to finish one of the most enduring mountain bike rallies – the MTB Himalaya – something that only a seasoned professional can do.
And that set him thinking. What about an ordinary person? Most of us are ordinary types..right! Why should ordinary people not get a chance to keep themselves fit and indulge in activities that they can enjoy?
“It was then that I realised everyone must have a shot at being fit,” he says.
Thus was born Rugged Sayhadri, a cycling and hiking event that attracted over 250 people. “And this was the founding moment for Ruggedian, the company,” shares Akash. The year was 2012.
Akash, an MBA from MITSOB Pune, wanted a fitter society, a society where people can de-stress themselves and live their life in the fittest way possible, along with the right dosage of adrenaline rush. He believes a combination of “mind and physical activity” ushers in a full sense of satisfaction and recreation in a person. “Running on the treadmill or sweating it out on the cross-trainer might help people to be fit but it is not so exciting. It doesn’t bring a genuine smile on the faces of people. That’s what I wanted to do,” he puts in.
Since alternate sports such as obstacle races, cross mountain biking or hiking on hills never fail to bring a sense of achievement gift-wrapped with a smile, Akash decided to outspread the fitness culture and create more opportunities for alternate sports lovers. “I want everyone to be able to take part in these sports. I wish to serve all the participants of alternate sports with a 360 degree experience,” he says.
“The first race we organised in Kolhapur in 2012 was a great success. There were more than 250 participants. This encouraged us to organise more such events,” he says.
Today, Ruggedian organises ultra-marathons where more than 15,000 people take part in obstacle races, trail runs and trekking etc. These events are open to all those who are keen to stay fit and seek adventure.
He also organises outdoor activities for corporates, a big hit these days. “The working environment in private companies has evolved a lot over the years. Corporate houses organise annual out-of-office adventure activities to motivate employees and promote team-building,” says Akash.
“Alternate sports, as a part of outdoor activities, help in improving the morale of employees. These activities boost their confidence and also bring out their hidden talent while in office space, a lot of people remain in their cocoons,” he adds.
On the personal front, Akash’s love for fitness has grown with age. Besides the MTB Himachal race, he also won Enduro3, Ironman. In 2014, he was the first finisher of Ironman from South Maharashtra. For his efforts towards a fitter India, Akash was honoured with Youth Icon award and Mayor Award in 2015. He also mentored the Gujarat kabaddi team in 2017 and has recently appointed the president of the Kolhapur District Paralympic Association.