54 FIT­NESS Meet SHWETHA BHA­TIA, body­builder ex­traor­di­naire

SHWETHA BHA­TIA is a name to reckon with in the male dom­i­nated field of BODY­BUILD­ING and has gar­nered suc­cess as a fit­ness trainer and en­trepreneur. She speaks to Ci­tadel of her pas­sion and what keeps her go­ing.

Citadel - - CONTENTS - BY SUNITTA RA­MAN sunitta.ci­tadel@gmail.com

Most In­di­ans do not take well­ness and fit­ness se­ri­ously, but only later on re­al­ize the need to be phys­i­cally fit and ac­tive. In such a sce­nario, some­one like Shwetha Bha­tia is much needed. This reg­is­tered di­eti­cian is a name to reckon with in not just body­build­ing, but also as a fit­ness trainer and en­trepreneur. Her suc­cess­ful clin­i­cal prac­tice un­der the brand name ‘Me­ta­mor­pho­sis’ has been help­ing clients with var­ied needs. Her im­pres­sive and im­pec­ca­ble track record with clients can be quite some­thing. She helped Bol­ly­wood ac­tor Tiger Shroff pre­pare for his de­but film Heropanti. Her list of suc­cesses does not stop here. A com­pet­i­tive fit­ness ath­lete, she has won bronze medals at the state and na­tional level Body­build­ing Cham­pi­onships 2015, and is a Board Mem­ber of the Goa Body­build­ing and Fit­ness As­so­ci­a­tion, af­fil­i­ated with the In­dian Body­builders Fed­er­a­tion (IBBF), recog­nised by the Min­istry of Youth Af­fairs and Sports. What’s more, Shwetha is now a Cat­e­gory A (Na­tional Level) Judge by the IBBF and serves the fed­er­a­tion as jury. Apart from be­ing the Brand Am­bas­sador for a fit­ness app ‘Mo­bi­efit’, she has started her own fit­ness and nu­tri­tion cen­tre in Pan­jim, Goa, un­der the brand name ‘Gym & Tonic’. She was in Pune to launch ‘Mind Your Fit­ness’, a new-age fit­ness and well­ness start-up in the city by her.


Her jour­ney to­wards her work was in­ter­est­ing. She was one of us when it came to fit­ness and health. In her own words, Shwetha states, “I was al­ways aca­dem­i­cally in­clined; be­ing a top­per at the school and univer­sity level, I never pur­sued good health and sports ac­tively. It was only after grad­u­a­tion that I re­al­ized that I should take fit­ness and nu­tri­tion more se­ri­ously. The more I delved deeper into these two topics, the more I fell in love with it. I re­al­ized the power of healthy eat­ing, ex­er­cise regime and the ex­tent to which it can tran­scend your mind and body.” This aware­ness got her closer to fit­ness and ex­er­cise. She re­counts, “I did not want to re­main just a fit­ness trainer. I wanted to be some­one dif­fer­ent. My close and well-mean­ing friends forced me to take up body­build­ing. I trained re­ally hard and one par­tic­u­lar close friend forced me to fill the form for the state level Body Build­ing Cham­pi­onship, after which I won the bronze medal and also won my sec­ond bronze medal for body­build­ing at the na­tional level in the year 2015.”


The jour­ney of be­com­ing a body­builder was not easy, but fraught with a lot of chal­lenges. Not one to give up eas­ily, Shwetha de­scribes her jour­ney with a lot of con­fi­dence. “Body­build­ing needs a lot more ded­i­ca­tion to train­ing and nu­tri­tion than that re­quired for main­tain­ing gen­eral fit­ness, just like any other com­pet­i­tive sport. This ob­vi­ously calls for a lot of men­tal con­di­tion­ing. It is tough to keep the mo­ti­va­tion lev­els high at all times. I had to de­velop a high level of men­tal dex­ter­ity. Your pri­or­i­ties are dif­fer­ent as body­builder. A per­son can go to any ex­tent to con­quer that fi­nal fron­tier. Ac­cord­ing to me, a Greek god-like fig­ure is as good as a man­nequin, and it is cer­tainly not my cup of tea. I

be­lieve if you train to be func­tional, aes­thetic de­vel­op­ment is bound to fol­low. How­ever, it does not work the other way round. The train­ing in­side the gym should en­hance the over­all qual­ity of life, which em­pha­sizes the need for high in­ten­sity train­ing for both strength and en­durance. That’s the rea­son my diet and work­out regime re­mains the same,” she states with a smile.


As a child, Shwetha had typ­i­cal dreams of be­com­ing a doc­tor, but sadly her grades did not meet up to the re­quired expectations. In­stead, she opted for a ca­reer in nu­tri­tion. Not one to ac­cept de­feat, she com­pleted her Post Grad­u­a­tion in Nu­tri­tion after mar­riage. She puts her thoughts in care­fully cho­sen words, “As a child, I al­ways wanted to be a doc­tor and treat ail­ing peo­ple, but that did not hap­pen. I thought if not cu­ra­tive care, at least I am proud to be a part of the pre­ven­tive care in­dus­try.”


Gen­uinely car­ing for ter­mi­nally ill can­cerm kid­ney and heart pa­tients can drive any sane per­son out of their senses. Shwetha’s love for her pro­fes­sion and her pa­tients speaks vol­umes about her ded­i­ca­tion and her com­mit­ment. “It is a very com­plex process. These dis­eases need con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing of vi­tal pa­ram­e­ters, which can fluc­tu­ate every four-five days, depend­ing on the sever­ity and the stage of the dis­ease. Pa­tients have a re­duced ap­petite with sig­nif­i­cant mus­cle loss, so it is a chal­lenge to meet their nutritional re­quire­ments through their diet. Their prog­no­sis be­comes worse if their nutritional needs are not met. The pa­tients them­selves carry the bur­den of be­ing a chronic or ter­mi­nally ill pa­tient. They also carry the guilt of be­ing a bur­den both fi­nan­cially and emo­tion­ally on their fam­ily mem­bers. So I have to be more pa­tient and com­pas­sion­ate to­wards them. Their fam­ily mem­bers have to be coun­selled from time to time, as the trauma and con­tin­u­ous care giv­ing af­fects them too,” an emo­tional Shwetha states.


De­spite bias, women have come out vic­to­ri­ous in every field that they have set their foot on. But Shwetha has a dif­fer­ent take on this. “No, not at all! I have ex­pe­ri­enced none so far. When I stepped on stage, the con­cept was still fairly new in In­dia. How­ever, to­day, it is far more ac­cepted and ap­pre­ci­ated,” she says about be­ing a wo­man in a man’s field. She fur­ther adds, “The masses may have a bar­rier con­nect­ing with women who look mus­cu­lar, but within the in­dus­try, it is largely ap­pre­ci­ated. Again, the level to which you wish to take your mus­cu­lar de­vel­op­ment is en­tirely your choice. I com­peted in the ‘Sports Physique’ cat­e­gory, which re­quires one to have mus­cu­lar def­i­ni­tion and low body fat, while still main­tain­ing fem­i­nine aes­thet­ics.”


“Ac­cord­ing to me, a Greek god like fig­ure is as good as a man­nequin and it is cer­tainly not my cup of tea.”

Be­ing rec­og­nized for one’ s con­tri­bu­tion in any field is a great morale booster. Shwetha’s hard work, ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment fi­nally paid off when she was in­vited as a board mem­ber and a ju­rist. “I am a Cat­e­gory A Judge in the In­dian Body­builders Fed­er­a­tion (IBBF) which is the only body­build­ing fed­er­a­tion in In­dia rec­og­nized by the Min­istry of Youth Af­fairs and Sports. Goa Body­build­ing and Fit­ness As­so­ci­a­tion (GBBFA) is t he state af­fil­i­ate of IBBF. I am head­ing the women’ s wing and in charge of en­cour­ag­ing more women in the state to par­tic­i­pate in the sport. It’s been a great ex­pe­ri­ence, and I feel hon­oured to be a jury mem­ber of the same fed­er­a­tion that I com­peted through. I am happy to share my ex­pe­ri­ence and guide women who wish to com­pete,” she says with a smile.


Be­ing pas­sion­ate about fit­ness and good health and then start­ing a busi­ness came nat­u­rally to Shwetha. She has ef­fort­lessly and seam­lessly blended into be­ing a fit­ness en­trepreneur. Her first ven­ture has been right­fully chris­tened by her in 2008 un­der the brand name ‘Me­ta­mor­pho­sis’. After her first suc­cess­ful at­tempt, she ven­tured into start­ing a gym un­der the name ‘Gym & Tonic’. She sup­ports her idea with a jus­ti­fied an­swer, “I al­ways felt the need to have gym space, as mon­i­tor­ing train­ing has been a lim­it­ing fac­tor in my clin­i­cal prac­tice. It had to be done re­motely through videos. After win­ning the body­build­ing com­pe­ti­tion at the state and na­tional Level in 2015, I felt a strong need to start a gym, and I thought Goa be­ing my sec­ond home would be an apt place to start, as there is a lack of pro­fes­sional set-ups in the state.” Once she be­gins on her favourite topic, there is no stop­ping her. She con­tin­ues about her pas­sion, “It’s heart­en­ing to have touched so many lives over the last three years. I owe it to all our pa­trons at Gym & Tonic. They mo­ti­vate me to work hard every day. We are work­ing on our ex­pan­sion plans and hope­fully, by mid-July, we should be good to start. I am glad to tell you that I have also launched a novel well-be­ing and sports per­for­mance clinic in Pune by the brand name ‘Mind Your Fit­ness’. The power of the mind and body is cru­cial for sports per­for­mance as well as well­be­ing, but sel­dom do we find an ap­proach that in­te­grates the power of both. This is the need of the hour, con­sid­er­ing the stress­ful life­style we all lead to­day. Mind Your Fit­ness pre­cisely aims to bridge this gap, to en­sure that a healthy mind lives in a healthy body.” In her words, this one-of-a-kind clinic in In­dia brings to­gether the best pro­fes­sion­als in nu­tri­tion, ex­er­cise and men­tal health, all un­der the same roof. In this team, you will find em­i­nent phys­io­ther­a­pists, nu­tri­tion­ists and psy­chol­o­gists ded­i­cated in sports per­for­mance and clin­i­cal con­di­tions. She re­veals, “It is a thor­oughly mon­i­tored ser­vice with weekly fol­low up ses­sions. At the out­set, each client has to un­dergo manda­tory physical, nutritional and psy­cho­me­t­ric as­sess­ments, based on which a pro­gramme cus­tom­ized to in­di­vid­ual needs is planned. The ser­vice es­pe­cially tar­gets peo­ple with meta­bolic and life­style dis­or­ders like obe­sity and di­a­betes. Those into recre­ational and com­pet­i­tive sports will also be catered to. I wish to du­pli­cate this model in Mum­bai and Goa in the next three months, and there­after in all the met­ros.” Ad­di­tion­ally, she is the brand am­bas­sador of a fit­ness app called ‘Mo­bi­efit’. Talk­ing more on her other work, she also re­veals, “I also write for a num­ber of pub­li­ca­tions, blogs and mag­a­zines on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Re­cently, there have been talks with a prom­i­nent pro­duc­tion house for a na­tion­wide TV cam­paign on fit­ness that is yet to be fi­nal­ized. My plate is def­i­nitely full and I am rar­ing to go.”


Be­ing an ex­tremely busy per­son, Shwetha hardly gets time for her­self, but man­ages to steal some­time for her­self and her fam­ily as she is con­stantly shut­tling be­tween Goa, Mum­bai and Pune. She puts her sched­ule in a con­cise and pre­cise man­ner. “I travel every fivesix days. It’s chal­leng­ing to main­tain my own fit­ness regime amidst work and travel (I like to prac­tice what I preach). That re­quires me to cut down on my so­cial life at times and I’m okay with that. I use mu­sic, med­i­ta­tion, spend­ing time with my pet and power naps as re­cov­ery tools. I end up work­ing on Sun­days too, but en­sure I have two Sun­days with no work sched­uled. That’s when I make up for fam­ily time. I love spend­ing time out­doors and spend my time at the beach when I can and that’s how I un­wind,” she winds up en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. In­deed, in­spi­ra­tions like her are what keep our coun­try mov­ing ahead on a healthy note.

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