Interview with Ashwini Waskar: India's first female bodybuilder
There are a few women in India who dared to break away from the societal norms and stereotypes. They have displayed unbelievable courage and a will to move forward in a society that is changing rapidly. While most of us dream of becoming an engineer or a doctor, you will hardly hear anyone say, 'I want to be a bodybuilder'.
Ashwini Waskar was different.
A native of Pen in Raigad district in Maharashtra, Ashwini completed her schooling from a village institute and worked as a Senior Research Fellow at the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology.
But, Ashwini was tired of being overweight and that's when she decided to join a gym and engage herself in weight-lifting. She has now gone on to participate in eight bodybuilding competitions - including an international contest. Ashwini's father has been her sponsor handling all costs from training to participation charges.
Undoubtedly, the transition from an overweight body to India's first competitive bodybuilder is highly inspiring.
Sportskeeda spoke to Ashwini about her journey, dreams, long-term goals and much more in an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts:
How did you take up bodybuilding as a sport?
I like to follow a path which is used less. When I heard about the female bodybuilding competition, I thought of participating just for an experience. This fitness field has many categories. Though I started as a bodybuilder, now I participate in other categories like fitness physique and model physique where less muscularity is required.
Tell us about your journey so far.
I have participated in almost 8 competitions. Without any sponsors, it is difficult but not impossible. My father sold two gold ornaments so that I can participate in the competitive circuit. Although economically it is tough, but the moral support from my family, friends, and social media helped my cause. When people call me 'strong Indian girl', it feels great.
What are the difficulties you faced with regards to training facilities, competitions, and diet?
When there is a will, there is a way. So training facilities and competitions were never a problem. We, Indians tend to spend a lot on diet. I used to stay alone in Mumbai. So eating outside was a problem initially.
On a given day, what is your training schedule like?
I train one body part per day. Legs, chest, shoulders, arms, cardio, back, deadlift are my workout days in a week. Out of those, legs and deadlift are my favorite since they indicate how powerful and flexible you are.
What do you do when you are not at the gym?
I have my aquarium shop which is our livelihood.
What training do you undergo to bolster your mental strength?
Nothing much. I visualize. For example, I am a foodie. But on competition days, I focus on my body condition and then I forget about food. *laughs*
You had a fantastic career. Tell us some of your highlights.
February 2014: Ajit Bharat Store (National Level) - 5th Rank
March 2014: Fit Factor (National Level) - 5th Rank
October 2014: State level Selection
November 2014: National level Selection
December 2014: WBPF - Represented India at the International level
January 2015: State Level - Silver Medal
March 2015: National Level - Silver Medal
There is a perception that bodybuilding is a boring sport. Why?
Well, it differs from person to person. I find cricket boring. Don't kill me now. To find a game interesting, one needs to know about the efforts and dedication required. When one understands how beautiful or how tough a particular sport is, he/she is bound to love that sport.
Why is it hard for your sport to get the profile it deserves in the media?
People love cricket more than fitness and bodybuilding. People are more interested in rapes and crimes than the successful launching of a satellite by India. Media gives what people want and people want what media gives. Those who want a better India are only on Facebook and Instagram.
Views on how women's sport is treated in India.
Be it cricket, badminton or bodybuilding, there are many sportswomen who don't get the support they deserve. Bodybuilding gets tougher because of the costume we wear. Not all fathers can think of their daughters wearing such a costume. I am very proud of him.
Should bodybuilding be an Olympic sport?
Before that, we need to incorporate that sport in our society. If more and more state level competitions are carried out, then not just the sport but also the fitness can be improved.
You are seen as an inspiration. Do you think you have lived up to that reputation?
Only competing and winning cannot be called inspiring. Using the experience to guide the next generation is more important. When I see gratitude and happiness in the eyes of people around me, I feel I am an inspiration.
Hats off, Ashwini. Keep making us proud.