Building an Early Foundation:
Having a larger frame as compared to most of the children my age made me a victim to bullying and body shaming as an early childhood memory. Even though I had an active childhood where I enjoyed participating in sports and co-curricular activities, these comments took a toll over me. However, I did not let such external factors overpower my inner well being and channelized my energy towards becoming a better version of myself. That’s how my journey of growth began! I joined the gym and started devoting time to get better form and shape. In the middle of this process, I discovered my passion for body building.
I changed my eating patterns and started body training until it became a lifestyle. This also helped with my mental health as I became body positive and understood the importance of self love. I wanted to be physically and mentally strong and lead a healthy life.
All my college and corporate life, I never let go off my passion for body training, it came naturally to me as something that I wanted to pursue. I shifted to Mumbai where I started working in a different organization and soon realized this strong desire of breaking all the barriers society could throw at me.
I always had this knack for challenges in life, to be able to assert my abilities and learn from failures. Eventually, I left my corporate job to follow my passion. In true values, all I wanted back then was to be able to represent my country and the youth, especially the women of our country who require more strength to break stereotypes.
The Narrative of Social Change:
Fitness is not something that only film stars, cricketers or models require and this is the biggest misconception people need to be aware of. My goal has always been to promote the importance of fitness in the ordinary life which is why I chose to become a physique athlete as opposed to body building. In our country when we talk about body-building, a lot of people, especially most girls seem to easily draw out since the society has made them to believe that it’s not a cup of tea for girls. Physique athletics however, focuses more on how fitness could be something that attaches itself to strength, flexibility, stamina and endurance- all that it takes for one to be healthier and stronger.
I participated in the World Championship at a time when Indian women were not fully aware of the niche. I've met contestants from countries like Ukraine and Hungary who were fairly well-moulded to pursue fitness that clearly showed how popular and celebrated it was in their country. Our country has the greatest of human resources; we have been the torch bearers of Yoga and Ayurveda and have a self-sustained agrarian sector. Women in India have the calibre to achieve beyond imagination, once they stop clipping off their wings.
With a bag full of experience, failures and achievements, I soon participated in the Asian Championship and became the first Indian to win Miss Asia Fitness Physique in 49 years. That is when Media started recognizing me - I was interviewed by esteemed channels and corporations and got proposals to be on covers for magazines. This was a change that I had seen in the industry. Media is lately showing interest in the achievements of women fitness professionals and Indian households are now becoming much more aware and accepting. I can staunchly say that the scenario has changed for the better.
‘Fitness Forever’ & its Mark on the Fitness Industry:
"Giving back to the society" has been one of my foremost goals. My target audience today includes women leading simple, busy lives who do not have enough time to work out. My efforts lie in helping them perceive fitness as a way of life that anyone can follow easily. It's important for women to be mentally and physically fit, to invest in their wellbeing and hustle through life like a goddess and this is what drives "Fitness Forever".
We have come up with a first of its kind venture that seeks to give enthusiasts the platform to not just get more fit and strong, but to empower them with the tools and resources they need to compete in the fitness arena. We train individuals in ways that go beyond the physical aspect, to help boost confidence, calibre and strong mindset. We are planning to introduce such segments and activities that draw people towards investing in their health, to enjoy the process as much as the outcome.
Powerful Lessons from Mentors & Life Mantra:
My biggest mentor in life has been my mother. She has always been the guiding light to my journey so far. She has ignited courage, strong-will and persistence in me that I carry as values in my life. When the base is strong enough, you can build your pyramid as high as you want it to be. My mother has been this base that I draw tremendous strength from.
I believe that our minds run as the fuel for the physical body. I had my fair-share of tribulations from childhood itself, that have hard-wired the importance of not taking criticisms at heart. I don't get down to justify myself at every question that is thrown at me. I saw a lot of scepticism coming my way when I was weight lifting- “women aren’t strong like that” or “the weights will be too heavy for me.” But as they say, actions speak louder than words. We cannot let negativity get into our head, let alone our life. Follow your heart, but put your mind in action too. You are never too young to start, you will always have time to celebrate later- youth is the best time to channelize your energy to become better. We should be ready for backlashes and criticisms- even unhealthy ones at times but the main focus should never go out of sight. It’s a journey, you have to move forward.