What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “Bodybuilding”? Probably pumped up Arnold Schwarzenegger like men.
But there is this one bodybuilder who is breaking all the stereotypes about boxing in India- Ashwini Waskar. She transformed herself from an overweight woman to a muscle-packed lady just in the time of one year. Now she is India’s first competitive female bodybuilder.
Let us peek into Ashwini’s inspiring journey
How it all begin?
A simple girl hailing from Raigad in Konkan, Maharashtra, Ashwini arrived in Mumbai to become a senior researcher at the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology. While working there, Ashwini gained too much weight. She was unhappy and decided to join a gym.
In an interview given to The Mirror, Ashwini said, “While working I was becoming really overweight, so to maintain my fitness level I joined a gym in 2012. Out of enthusiasm, I used to lift heavy weights and I followed a rich protein diet. That’s how my body became really strong.”
The first spark
Joining the gym was just the beginning. What really got her hooked was the male bodybuilding competition she attended in 2013.
She recalls, “An announcement was being made there about the upcoming first national level female bodybuilding competition and they were asking if anybody wants to participate. So I thought ‘why not give it a try?’”
Stepping into the bodybuilding world
Determined to be a bodybuilder, Ashwini went back to her hometown. There she joined a local gym, Hanuman Vyayamshala, where the gym owner got astounded by the way she trains like male bodybuilders.
Rajesh Angad, the gym owner, informed her about a contest in Pune and asked her to participate in that. But there was still one hurdle Ashwini had to overcome.
Hailing from a middle-class family, Ashwini knew that skimpy bikini outfit won’t be favoured by her conservative family.
Ashwini told her father, Balchandra Waskar, about her desire to participate in the competition. The revealing costume made her family a little uncomfortable.
Her brother Niranjan – who is now a big supporter of Ashwini’s bodybuilding – added, “When I heard that shorts were worn in the competition I was a little worried. We are a middle-class family.”
To her surprise, her father consented. Bhalchandra said, “The clothing is a part of the sport, a part of the exercise. This is not something random, you are not selling your body, and you are showing the world what you have earned.”
So, in December 2014, Ashwini participated in her first competition and came in the fifth position.
Problems being faced
Ashwini has participated in 7 international competitions till now. Her hard work has really paid off, but the only problem she is facing is sponsorship.
Ashwini is struggling to find herself a sponsor. Her father is the one bearing her expenses. He once sold a gold chain to foot Ashwini’s diet bill for a Mumbai event.
He says, “It is okay if no one helps my daughter. I am ready to sell everything, as long as she competes and places in the top three at competitions.”
Still the optimistic girl
Ashwini is very optimistic about the future of bodybuilding in India. She hopes to inspire more and more women to take up this sport.
“I would really love to train a girl who comes up to me with a wish of participating in competitions.” says Ashwini.
Despite all the odds, Ashwini’s hard work has got her the well-deserved recognition. We wish Ashwini would find a sponsor soon.