Whoever says bodybuilding is a sport for men should definitely meet Dr Maya Rathod. Breaking all the stereotypes of gender boundaries in sports, Dr Maya is undoubtedly an inspiration for many whose stories are worth listening to. Dr Maya is a gynaecologist in Sydney with roots attached to the western state of Maharashtra, India. Juggling between the different roles of a doctor, wife, mother, bodybuilder and researcher, she overcomes every obstacle that comes in her journey with grace.
Dr Maya is a bodybuilding champion who won the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) 2021 Championship in Australia. She won the award in the Figure novice category. Sometimes it is important to go against the tide and Maya did the same. This determination and strong willpower helped her to achieve her dream. Let’s hear the inspiring story of Dr Maya Rathod in her words.
Tell us something about yourself and about your journey.
I am an obstetrician and gynaecologist by Profession and also a proud mother of 2 kids. For me bodybuilding is my passion, I do it because I like being fit. I have always been a sports enthusiast but the journey somehow got put on hold after my marriage and other family responsibilities. After having my second child, I started my fitness journey again. I started participating in bodybuilding competitions. During that entire journey, I came to know that there are only a few women who participate in such kinds of competitions.
In Australia, I attended a workshop and then one thing led to another. I got the opportunity to participate in IFBB Australia and I won it.
How Hard Was It For You As A Woman To Choose Bodybuilding And How Supportive Your Family Was In Your Decision?
Yes, I faced many challenges initially because bodybuilding is a male-dominated sport. Even today you will not find many women bodybuilders. So yes, the hesitation was there in my parents about my decision. They were reluctant to accept my career as a bodybuilder.
When I decided to do bodybuilding, everyone advised me not to do it. Being a gynaecologist, and mother, people told me that this sport is not meant for females. But I was determined to follow my passion and I did.
There Is A Conception That Women Should Not Do Heavy Weightlifting Exercises Because It Leads To Pregnancy Complications. What Is Your Take On That?
This conception is completely false. Weightlifting is not just about building muscles, it is about staying fit. Heavy weightlifting does not create problems during pregnancy but excess weight does. Nowadays, most women in India are suffering from PCOD or PCOS which causes excessive weight gain. The cases of diabetes, hypertension and mental anxiety are also on the rise which leads to weight gain. This is why everyone should exercise to stay fit.
Usually, people think cardio is the best way to lose weight but in reality, weightlifting helps prevent weight gain. It releases good hormones in the body and helps a person to stay fit. Therefore, weightlifting does not cause any kind of harm to the body, it is just a lack of awareness in people about the benefits of the same that leads to misconceptions.
You Have Also Won IFBB Australasian Championship. So How Was The Feeling After You Won?
That feeling was something that I cannot describe in words. I was on cloud nine when I won the IFBB Australasian Championship. Even now, I get goosebumps whenever I talk about that day. The winning moment was even more special for me because I was the only Indian in the auditorium. So, it was indeed a very happy moment for me. I was also the only brown-skinned woman to participate in the competition.
I believe this win is not mine alone but also belongs to every woman who lives for her passion and works hard for the same. This win is also an inspiration for a lot of women that you can also follow your passion even after marriage.
What Message Do You Want To Give All The Women Out There Who Want To Achieve Their Dream?
To follow your passion and turn your dream into reality you have to come out of your shell. You have the potential to do anything just believe in yourself and work hard. Don’t look for inspiration instead be the inspiration for others.