But now, the trend is changing — men and women are taking up bodybuilding as a fitness activity. Sujaatha A, who has been working in the aviation industry, used to hit the gym regularly. After a point, she found it very monotonous. That time, she came to know that there are no female bodybuilders in the state. “There are a few female bodybuilders who are part of associations that are not recoginsed. But I wanted to go through the proper channel and got in touch with Tamil Nadu Amateur BodyBuilding Association (TABBA). I met Arasu anna of TABBA and conveyed my interest in becoming a bodybuilder. Since then, he has been supporting and guiding me,” says Sujaatha, a women’s model physique at the Indian Body Builders Federation (IBBF).
A mother of two teenagers, she was an athlete in school and college. “I was always into fitness but bodybuilding was a different ballgame. After started bodybuilding, I had another wish — to be on the stage and participate in bodybuilding competitions. I started coaching and in 2018 I won the bronze medal in the Asian Championship. In the 2019 World Championship, I was among the top 5 rankings.”
Sujaatha stresses that without her family’s support she wouldn’t have become a bodybuilder. “Before participating in competitions, I told my sons that I would be wearing a bikini and asked if they had any issues with that. They were so supportive and told me that they are proud of their mother representing the country. I didn’t look back after that. Many girls wanted to come to this field but don’t know how to go about it. Bodybuilding is a great fitness activity. You needn’t have to be on the stage, if not interested,” she adds.
Mr World 2017 and 2018 Title Winner R Manikandan is all set to represent India at the 12th WBPF World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship & Congress held at Tashkent, Uzbekistan in October. A fitness entrepreneur by profession, he notices that today, many youngsters are keen on taking up bodybuilding. “It requires a lot of discipline, so only a few took it up before. But now, the trend is changing. Slowly, people are getting to know more about bodybuilding and hitting the gym to become a bodybuilder,” says Manikandan.
Another bodybuilder from the city Dilip Harinath says that bodybuilding is all about inner strength, passion, determination, hard work and sacrifice. “So it’s not about trend but about showing who you are to the world. This is not a sport it’s an emotion.”