Nishriin Parikh had been donning multiple roles spanning over the last fifteen years as a fitness trainer, aerobics instructor, an entrepreneur who had founded “Yogasstrength” and a lot more lying under her belt. This fascinating and charming woman who is currently in her 50s had started her adventure with fitness when she was a teenager in school. Being an avid sports lover since her childhood, she had first enrolled for Karate classes, a popular martial art form right from a tender age of 15 years and also held a black belt to her credit after training for five years. Subsequently, she had become a fitness instructor and a trainer at Talwalkars Health Club and had trained various individuals over there for nearly 14 years. She had also learnt to practice Pilates and Yoga over the years and subsequently chose to become an entrepreneur herself by registering and running her Institute under the brand name known as “Yogasstrength” over the last two decades. She had been participating in various bodybuilding competitions over the last 3 years and has also managed to come among the first 5 places in both Asian as well as the World Body Building Championships. Nishriin Parikh spoke to Claus from Sportz Business Insights in an exclusive interview and went on to share some of her experiences on her role as a Fitness Trainer and Instructor, her participation in various events connected to bodybuilding both at the national and international level, her love for yoga and her role in establishing the brand “Yogasstrength” for training many aspiring fitness enthusiasts and how she has been helping them lead a fit and healthy life.
- Can you start off first by giving a brief introduction about yourself and the various titles won by you till date?
First, I introduce myself as Nishriin Parikh. I am 54 years old. What makes me unique is that I have been representing my country for the last 4 years actively on stage as a Model Physique Athlete. I am extremely proud to say that I am the only athlete for our country at this age who actually steps up on stage in a bikini with a six-pack abs. I represent the Indian Bodybuilders Federation (IBBF). I am the senior most athlete age wise and all this has happened in the last 4 years. This just goes out to tell everyone that you could be getting up in your age and people may think that there is no future for me as far as fitness is concerned. But, I want to break that barrier and let you know about me, because I exist mainly as a very very strong woman for India.
As far as titles are concerned, I never get a first place or a second place. I have always managed to come in the first 5 places in the Asian as well as the World Body Building Championships. For the last 4 years, I have come within the first 5 places. The reason for the same is that I have been participating in the open category. The open category is basically of very young people. The contestants who are participating with me are all in their early 20’s and they are really young and even younger than my kids. They have all been participating from all over the world such as Thailand, Uzbekistan and various other places of the world and they all come up on stage looking very very good. But I stand out as a strong woman who is 54 years old in the open category who is not looking for the first, second or third place, but competing because that’s my spirit.
I had started off by participating in the regional championships called Mumbai Shree in the months of January and February and then moved on to Maharashtra Shree and later on to National Championships. About 40 women had been participating in the event and so far, we had been getting trophies which were never there earlier and it is nice and encouraging. More women are also coming up forward on to the stage and participating in such events. I am standing up here because I want to let more women know that this is an opportunity that will make you highly disciplined in life. If you are up there on stage, you have made a life of a lot of discipline to be that fit.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, they have some federation cups for the Indian bodybuilders which happens to be conducted more in a friendly way. Thereafter, you would have the selection happening for the events. The selections will be done basically for Asian Championships as well as for World Championships. All these follow a strict selection process. They just choose the first 3 persons. I have managed to come up in all of these. Moreover, they want a 54 year old up on stage, since you won’t get to find everybody who would be that much concerned about all of these, due to the age factor. Further, it is also inspiring and can motivate many more people to start their fitness journey.
I would also say that young people have the metabolism, with age being on their side. When you look at me, it is like a downhill woman really trying to work hard to make a change in the world. I am the only person for India and no one else has come up yet. I would also ask men who are old and are in their 50s, who would now begin to think that they have become old and what would they really need to do as far as fitness is concerned. I would tell them that they must not give up, because everything in life is beautiful. Staying fit would be one way to make your life more richer and beautiful and particularly living a life of awareness. This is what I try to portray to those individuals out there. We just can’t afford to allow our life to go waste at any age. That is why I am saying that we must begin to make our lives beautiful and stay fit while we are alive.
As far as the Asian Championships are concerned, once the selection for the team was done, I had travelled to Korea and other places such as Indonesia, Thailand and a few more places for participating in both Asian and the World Championships.
- You had been actively practicing various physical exercises such as Yoga, Pilates and even martial arts over the years and have in the recent years moved into bodybuilding. But, can you let us know what prompted you to set the ball rolling by choosing to enter bodybuilding in the first place? Did you have any special reason to choose bodybuilding?
I would say that it is very important to start doing various exercises at an early age when you are very young. I would even suggest youngsters to take up gymnastics. It is a sport that your body will treasure and you will not have any regrets for having done gymnastics. Gymnastics must be taken up when a child is 4 years old. I too had made my kids join gymnastics at that young age. Doing gymnastics would require a lot of precision. They have also done a lot of taekwondo. Although, studies are important and have to happen, I have always been particular that my children do not ignore their body or the physical aspect, especially during the years when these kids were growing up. My daughter is a clinical psychologist and she has done her Masters in Clinical Psychology. She is a clinical psychologist by the day and also a DJ at night. She has got the best of everything.
My son is an electrical engineer and he is working in the field of immersive technology. Both of them work very hard and they have always looked up to me as a role model for them, as they have seen me working hard over the years. Whether it is my children or my in-laws, they have always been in awe of me and they speak high about me with all our relatives about my efforts and hard work in fitness. I joined karate and have also been a part of the national team.
Every year, I had managed to come among the first three places. It has always been a journey of fitness for me. After I was married and had kids, I had taken a back step from karate. I was working as an aerobics instructor with National Institute of Aerobics and also with Madhu Talwalkars. Basically, I had been teaching dance aerobics, strength training, workouts, kickboxing for at least 15 years. I had started taking classes in Karate at various places. When you teach, you become a better student, because you start empathizing with others better. I was very much aware of what I had to go through when I had been learning. Similarly, I was able to observe the various problems that my students would face in their classes. There was a time when I had decided to learn Pilates. I had met with a person who had come down from London. He was from the London Pilates Institute. I had done a long study with him in Mat Pilates. I also taught Mat Pilates.
It was like a culmination of martial arts and all that I had learnt from aerobics and further on Pilates. Further, I had done a Post Graduate Diploma from an Institute called KaivalyaDhama. It was a 1 year intensive course, followed by 6 months of teachers’ training which used to take place every day starting from Monday to Saturday, both in the morning as well as in the evening. I had to give it a lot of time as far as study was concerned, but this took me to a very different metaphysical life that I did not know about. When I started studying the sutras of Yoga, it became my religion. Yoga Sutras are something that people must really know. I see people doing asanas or pranayama. But, Yoga is not really what many think of. It is more of a philosophy and an individual must go deep into it to study it better. We were fortunate that we had got a chance to study the same. There are 196 aphorisms that belong to Sage Patanjali, which a person has to study completely, so that it can take their life to a different level.
If you get a chance, you can also go through the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. We were having both theoretical as well as practical yoga sessions in the institute. We used to have practical sessions starting from 6.30 a.m. up to 8.30 a.m. Apart from asanas, we had kriyas and sutras for a whole year from Monday to Saturday. I spent from 6.30 in the morning to 12.30 in the noon teaching yoga. I have founded the “Yoga Strength Warriors” which is an integration of strength training and asanas. I have been teaching small groups of individuals and I do not feel comfortable having online sessions. I will wait for some more time to start my classes again.
- You have earlier patronized various forms of exercises such as Yoga, Pilates and martial art forms such as Karate, apart from training with weights. Could you let us know what was the major difference that you were able to notice after doing weight training as compared to the other forms of exercise that you had done earlier?
Our body loses muscle mass as we grow older. The only way to overcome that is to do something that could challenge your muscle. A mere walking in the garden is not going to challenge your muscles, because you have been walking ever since you were a child. The question is now where is the effort that the muscle is going to make. Here is where weight training can help, as it will not let you lose your muscle mass as you get older. On the other hand, it will help you build your muscle mass. When you observe the other nations, you will Our body loses muscle mass as we grow older. The only way to overcome that is to do something that could challenge your muscle. A mere walking in the garden is not going to challenge your muscles, because you have been walking ever since you were a child. The question is now where is the effort that the muscle is going to make. Here is where weight training can help, as it will not let you lose your muscle mass as you get older. On the other hand, it will help you build your muscle mass. When you observe the other nations, you will notice that people do a lot of work such as gardening and other stuff all by their own. This has helped them to keep a better muscle mass as compared to us. People need to spend at least an hour on weight training. In the case of women, I would personally state that since they would lose muscle mass as they grow older, they must train with weights. Some of them think that if they do some cardio workout, it would be sufficient.
However, the muscles are not going to grow by doing cardio workouts. Therefore, women really need to work on building their muscles. I have managed to ensure that I follow a strict diet discipline when it comes to eating and training with discipline every single day of my life. This is why I stand apart from others. I also want everybody to stand apart just like me. All these would definitely be observed by others and they may even get motivated to stay fit. We have only one life and every moment counts. I have this tagline always to say which is “You must train insane or remain the same.”
- What according to you is the diet that every person who is training for body building must follow every day in order to stay alert as well as fit?
Bodybuilders are generally highly disciplined and they would know what to eat normally. For those who are training for bodybuilding for the first time, they would need to keep a check on their macros, including knowing the amount of carbohydrate, good fat and protein that they are taking in for their body. They also need to know about the kind of supplements that they are taking for their body. Supplements such as arginine, EC Tablet, glutamine or whey protein are normally the ones which bodybuilders can look at consuming every day. They would normally know about these and there wouldn’t be any need for me to tell them about the same. Bodybuilders who are looking to get fitter will have to add very little grains to their diet.
- Being a Yoga Instructor for many years, can you let us know how much time an individual would need to devote for doing yoga in a day? Is there an ideal time that an individual should start their yoga sessions with on a daily basis?
First, let me talk on asana and pranayama practice. Asanas are nothing but a body-weight bearing exercise. They really help you with your flexibility at the gross level. If you are a body builder, you are normally very flexible. By adding on asanas, you will see a big change. You will have less soreness and stiffness, apart from ensuring no building up of lactic acid. Hence, it is beneficial to do asanas. It is also beneficial to do pranayamas, because it is the only thing that you have which you can say as yours. Your breath is the only thing that is yours.
You must try and find a teacher who will help you focus on your breath work. Basically, we are unaware about our in breaths and out breaths. So, we must sit down and observe our in breath and out breath. If you closely observe, your out breath would be lesser while your in breath is higher. It is a human tendency to involuntarily take in more, while giving out has always been little. You have to live a life of awareness for 24 hours. You may do asanas and pranayama for an hour. But you must be able to carry forward your awareness all through the day and on every single day.
- What would you consider to be your most cherished moment in body building and why do you consider it to be so?
I am happy and proud that I am an athlete for our country which has always been more important for me. I consider all that I have been going through in fitness and bodybuilding to be my cherished moments that would continue to stay with me lifelong. One important thing that I would want the athletes or officials, most of them who are fit out there to know is that somebody at home has really worked hard to make you stay fit by giving the right food at the right time. Therefore, I would ask each one of you to go back home and help the ones who helped you stay fit to become fit and healthy too.
- Can you let us know about your training routine in general?
I do weight training every single day. I also walk enough and remain active all through the day. I don’t sit around for long. My asana practice also happens every morning. Either, it would be my students coming home for practice and I get to practice with them or I would practice with myself. But, I ensure that I don’t miss my training even for a single day.
- Do you have any favourite workouts of yours at the gym and would you be able to share with us, as to why you enjoy doing such workouts?
I like to work on my back muscles. I have always been proud of my back muscles which I have worked on for many years. I like the Multigym, because it allows us the flexibility of doing so many things. Free weights are good. I would say that I like using the dumbbells, barbell, plates and literally almost everything. I would consider all of these to be my temple, masjid or whatever you want to call it. It is for me just like another place of worship.
- If you ever wanted to give a piece of advice to the youth of today on health and fitness, what would that be?
I would say that the youth must not waste a moment of their life, as the youth are the people who are going to make the change happen. If you can be disciplined with your food and your training, you will be able to impart a lot of positivity and happiness to everyone around you. Most of all, you would be such a happy person and would spread this out completely to all.
- Would you be willing to share any tips or suggestions on fitness or body building for the benefit of the readers of our magazine?
All you need to do is to just train hard every single day. This would be my only suggestion for all.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.