Q.What inspired you to become bodybuilder? At what age did you start your bodybuilding journey?
Our body is our instrument, to perform our duties in this world. We are all a part of the universe and have taken human form temporarily for a purpose.
The reason to stay healthy and fit is beyond just aesthetics, I may add that aesthetics comes forth in its truest form only when we are healthy and strong.
My childhood was quite a roller coaster journey, primarily because my mother was a patient of schizophrenia. We were quite an isolated family. I strived for love and affection and always had a drive to do my best in whatever I did. In my particular circumstances, as I was a fragile child, I truly realized the value of being fit and strong. I looked upon food in the format of carbohydrates proteins, fats and other micronutrients and not as a permutation and combination of delectable cuisines. I strived to excel in activities that needed me to be aware and conscious of the movement in human body and enhance my spatial visual skills. And oblivious of the term ‘fitness freak’ that never existed a few decades ago; I was certainly one, even then. But when I came to a gym, I faced a lot of opposition. I was told not to do weight training and that it is not meant for women. The extent of opposition I faced was so much that it actually inspired me to study weight training. I had already lost many years of my prime life. And I found something that I could relate to and took upon myself to bring about a paradigm change in the society.
I did formal education in fitness science and trained under some of the best coaches in the world, to eventually represent India and put Indian women on the bodybuilding world map. My life got a purpose at the age of 37 after losing so much but here is where I belong.
Q.You are a pioneer in women’s body building in India. What challenges did you need to overcome to begin your Career?
When I had started going to the gym, even weight training in women was frowned upon. I was told things like, “It is not good for your joints.”, or “You will start looking like a man if you train with heavy weights.”, or “You are doing it all wrong! We will have to cancel your membership”, and so on. Going on a competitive bodybuilding stage almost came as a shock to everyone. No one would ever have imagined that I would be able to do this. Besides, competing at international level required me to be completely focused and cut off myself further from social situations. This made me further isolated. The biggest challenge at that time in such a situation was to earn my own money to prepare for my competition and travel internationally all alone, single-handedly.
Besides that, convincing the federation to get a no objection letter to represent India, as a women bodybuilder was a herculean task. I feel grateful today that so many women are now doing bodybuilding shows and health and fitness has now become a priority for many women.
Q.You have achieved a lot of accolades in your career, which one are you the most proud of?
It has been a privilege for me to be able to put women’s bodybuilding in India on the world map. I have travelled to several countries and won several accolades. However winning the Arnold Classic in Hong Kong was something I truly cherish, as until now I am the only Indian woman who has ever done so. Winning the IFBB pro card has given me an identity and I shall proudly hold the IFBB pro title for the rest of my life.
Q. Over the years, you have acquired a lot of success in the bodybuilding world. What advice would you like to give to an aspiring body builder?
I feel that to a large extent, these achievements are subjective and are sometimes not completely in our control. Bodybuilding is a beautiful amalgamation of science, art and sport. The truest achievement from a sport like this is that we are able to condition our mind, and we learn to focus on what truly matters. We focus on the nutrition that we get from food and not the momentary pleasure of taste.
We learn to respect our fellow contenders and look upon the journeys of our colleagues with respect. Bodybuilding in fact helps us to conquer our ego and keeps us humble. When we stand on the stage at international level, all we can have control over is to do our absolute best and become the best version of ourselves. We have no control over how the world class champions from all across the world are. Besides that bodybuilding is a subjective sport. It is also an extreme sport. Therefore our aim should not be to focus plainly on the medal tally. We must aim on what we become as human beings once we complete at an elite level, we must focus on how we can give back to the society and spread the noble message of fitness. To understand food psychology and help others to adopt it. To take pictures on stage and treasure them as unspoken testimonies of what the human body can achieve.
To understand the sanctity of human body and help everyone achieve their goals. Commercial success automatically follows when we use what we have learnt to open gyms or become mentors and coaches. Every sports person has to retire from competition someday. What we take away from it and give back to the world to make it a better place makes everything worthwhile. That should be your real goal. That is my advice to all bodybuilders. Sports can teach you what a hundred books cannot.
Q. Would you like to talk about your web series, Aparajita, which is based on your life? Would you like to share any details about the show?
It is a great honour that I have this great opportunity for my life to be documented. It was heartening when I was told that my life would be an inspiration to every woman across the world since it covers several issues like mental health, women empowerment, sports federations, health and fitness, classical arts, motherhood, girl education, all wrapped in one. I have always felt that my life has a special purpose. The fact that this has come my way is a reinforcement of that.
The name, Aparajita Rita Jairath, also suggests that I as a woman, stood up inspite of all obstacles and never gave up.Aparajita, means the one who cannot be defeated. My last name Jairath is suggestive of the victory chariot, the one on which Krishna gave the supreme advice to Arjuna to fight for Dharma and be the eternal warrior. Since it is still in process, I cannot reveal much, but you will soon hear about it, across the world. A book in the form of a biography has already been written and will soon be published, in the form of print as well as audio books.
Q. What is your message for all the women out there?
Every woman must make a conscious endeavour to look after her health and fitness and pursue her dreams unapologetically. In many societies the ultimate goal of a woman seems to be her marriage. But marriage should be for companionship and not for convenience. If your husband is stopping you from pursuing and excelling in your career, he is not your true companion. Sacrificing who you are born to be can leave an unknown vacuum in your life.
There will be consequences if you do your duty. There will be consequences if you don’t do your duties. So it is better to choose to pursue your dreams, and fulfil them. At least you will be a warrior of life, develop great moral strength, you will conquer and set an example.
So live life to the fullest and to be able do it all, you must remember to take care of your health and fitness in every possible way that you can.
Wish you all a happy life. Happy Women’s Day