BENGALURU: Muscular biceps and six-pack abs cannot be considered only as male attributes. And breaking the stereotype is Shelly Arora, a 40-year-old senior marketing professional, who recently won the Asia-Pacific Championship in the Physique Category (Women) by International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA) 2019.
“Bodybuilding is still associated with masculinity. Therefore, bodybuilding for women is still a very unheard subject in our country while internationally, women across age groups are into it and even take it to a professional level by participating in various fitness competitions,” said Arora, who stood first in the physique category and fifth in the bikini category.
From combating health issues and fighting gender stereotypes to managing full-time work, this championship wasn’t a cakewalk for Arora, who heads the digital marketing department of a telecom company. Diagnosed with an auto-immune problem in 2017, she was prohibited from doing any intense workout. But that didn’t stop the bodybuilder from pursuing her passion.
Even though the health issues pushed her into depression, Arora derived support from her family and others to gain confidence.
“My doctor advised me to not lift weights or do any form of intense workout. I was very depressed and worried because of my illness and started losing confidence. But I shed all my fear and negativity, and started with weight training again, thanks to my support system.”
The corporate job can get stressful but, according to Shelly, bodybuilding is a way for her to overcome the pressure. Calling it a stress-buster, she said, “As one goes up the corporate ladder, the workload and stress level go up, and there is absolutely no time to even get proper sleep, forget about hitting the gym.”
Arora firmly believes in natural bodybuilding.
“When I first started my fitness journey a few years back, I observed that a lot of people resort to drugs for quick enhancement of muscles. But I could never relate to it, and could never understand how fitness can be achieved by harming one’s body with drugs,” she said.
After winning the championship, Arora wants to achieve more in this field. “I always believe that if you are passionate about something, you should do your best to excel at it,” she added.