Champion bodybuilder, homemaker: Meet Ghaziabad’s woman of substance
Indirapuram resident Sharmila Bhattacharya is now preparing for the National Amateur Body-Builder’s Association Universe Championship to be held in Singapore in 2018.Updated: Jun 20, 2017 11:16 IST
In 2012, Sharmila Bhattacharya was a 34-year-old homemaker weighing 76kg when she joined a gym in Indirapuram. After seven months, when she had lost all those extra pounds, her gym trainer asked her, “What next?” That was a turning point in her life. From there, she ventured into professional body building, considered a male-dominated field.
“I was puzzled when my trainer asked the question. I told him to wait for a day. At night, I searched the internet and pulled out pictures of Andreia Brazier (the four-time fitness model world champion). The next day I showed the trainer her pictures and said ‘Aisa banna hai’ (I want to be like her). I then started with a muscle-building weight training regime. It was later in 2015 that I entered the arena of professional body building,” said Bhattacharya.
She has since gone on to participate in her first professional UP state championship where she came in second. However, as she said, “Silver medal nahi chaihye tha (I was not satisfied with the silver medal)”.
A couple of months of rigorous training later, she bagged gold in the Delhi state championship in 2016, followed by a gold medal in the North India championship.
“I was never into fitness or things like that. All that has changed in the five years that I started going to the gym. I follow a strict diet and have put in hours of weight training to shape my body. The regular salwar suits and sarees are a big no-no now. I only walk around in track suits or a pair of T-shirt and jeans. I did not give up and I think every woman should follow fitness as a way to health,” she said.
Mother to a 13-year-old daughter and wife to a mountaineering enthusiast, Bhattacharya has set an example for women and girls who arrive daily at the Indirapuram gym she trains in. Consuming more than a kilogram of chicken, 15-20 eggs and lots of supplements daily, she says finds herself as a “woman in a man’s world.”
“Even while shopping in malls or markets, men give me surprised looks, but I don’t care. There have been a number of times when men have walked up to me and asked if I was a body builder. Just last week, an employee of a garment chain in a mall asked me about my fitness regime. I was happy to give him some tips,” she said.
Her strength has also manifested in other ways. She tells of an incident last year near the Habitat Centre in Indirapuram when two men on a bike tried to snatch her mobile phone. She said that she caught hold of the pillion rider’s arm and the driver had to pull out a gun to get her to leave him.
“I let go of his arm, but my phone broke into two. They fled without firing. I wish I could teach a similar lesson to men who harass women on the street,” she said.
“The idea of fitness should be inculcated among women and children of all ages. Unlike the body builders opening gyms and training centres, I plan to train schoolchildren, especially girls of government schools, in fitness. These children don’t have access to facilities and proper guidance. Fitness gives a lot of support and motivation to progress and to survive in odd conditions,” she said.
Sharmila is now preparing for her first stint in the Asian body building and fitness championship and the National Amateur Body-Builder’s Association (NABBA) Universe Championship to be held in Singapore in 2018. However, one of her dreams has already been fulfilled. “Last year, my dream came true. I met Andreia Brazier and told her that she was the inspiration behind my journey,” she said.
First Published: Jun 19, 2017 23:57 IST