Fighting Haryana’s Patriarchy

This bodybuilder wants to make history for India, but in Gurugram, a muscular woman is a rare sight.

Gurugram, Haryana —Most afternoons, Yashmeen Chauhan puts on a remix of the Shiva Tandava Stotram, loads impossibly heavy weights onto an exercise machine, flexes her ropey, muscular biceps, and switches into beast mode.

Depending on the day, she torques her chest and shoulders as she works the chest-fly machine; squats 130 kg; does bench presses; deadlifts 150 kg — all in her relentless quest to become the first Indian woman to earn a pro-card at the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Professional League.

“Through bodybuilding, I have proven to myself that I am strong — not just physically, but mentally as well,” Chauhan said one afternoon after a dizzying workout on the chest-fly machine. “It shows on my body and in the confidence I exude while walking on the street.”

This year, the 39-year-old fitness enthusiast returned to competitive building after a two-year hiatus. For years, she had competed everywhere from Hong Kong to India’s rural hinterland (In 2016, she was the Indian Body Building and Fitness Federation’s Miss India and Miss Uttar Pradesh and she also won bronze at IFBB’s Miss Asia), but earning a pro-card would cap a long, unfinished journey that began when a bullied, overweight teenager in Haryana became a Jane Fonda-inspired trainer, an award-winning bodybuilder, businesswoman and the owner of Sculpt — the gym where she works out every day.

Read the full story on HuffPost India.


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