Beauty with brawn: Meet India’s Iron Woman, Yashmeen Manak

  • Ruchika Garg, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 23, 2016 19:16 IST
“Being a girl, it was a big challenge to pursue bodybuilding as a career.,” says Yasmeen Manak

She pumps iron, rides a mean machine and loves to powerlift — 36-year-old Yashmeen Manak, who was recently crowned Miss India 2016 at a competition organised by Indian Body Building and Fitness Federation (IBBFF), is anything but your average woman.

Read: India’s body building broken by vested interests, multiple federations

A fitness freak, Manak has been lifting weights for the last 17 years and developed an interest in bodybuilding three years ago. All the hard work she has put in towards that has won her two gold medals, one in the Women Physique category and another in Women Fitness, in Bulandshahr, UP, at IBBFF, the official federation representing International Federation of Body Building (IFBB).

“There were many who discouraged me, but I never paid any attention to them,” says Yashmeen Manak.

Delhi-born Manak was an active participant in sports during childhood. “Being a girl, it was a big challenge to pursue bodybuilding as a career. There were speculations and doubts as it’s a male-dominated field, but my family and friends really supported me. There were many who discouraged me, but I never paid any attention to them.”

Manak clearly likes to redefine boundaries. She says, “Normal is boring. I like to break the stereotypes. I ride a Bullet and do powerlifting. I am already more muscular than many guys and love it.”

Read: Most women want a size-zero figure. But some believe that bulk is beautiful

The champ has also won Gladrags Mrs India 2005 and has broken several records, earlier set by men, in weightlifting 160kg. Currently, Manak runs a gym in Gurgaon and coaches more than 300 boys and girls every month. “Initially when people came to my gym, they’d be shell-shocked and asked ‘Ladki hokar gym trainer?’ They didn’t have faith in me, and it was difficult to convince them. But I didn’t get disheartened. If a man can coach girls why can’t a woman train a man? And now, I train more than 300 people,” says a proud Manak.

The bodybuilder is now gearing up for the upcoming Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Championship 2016 in Bhutan, that will take place in September. “I spend more time on weightlifting and exercises which include stretching and skipping. Also, I eat everything but keep it in mind to have the right food at the right time, to get the best results,” she signs off.

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