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Bodybuilding - A brief history of the sport in India

Contrary to popular belief, India has always had a strong body building culture that has existed well outside the gyms and fitness centres of today

Bodybuilding - A brief history of the sport in India

The great Indian tradition(source-huckmag.com)


C.C. Chengappa

Published: 17 Sep 2021 8:45 AM GMT

Whether it be the Akhadas of Haryana or the celebrity fitness centers of Bombay, body building has come a long way in India. There has been change in the outlook towards various techniques, but a majority of traditions have still remained intact in rural areas. Bodybuilding is undertaken for several reasons with the foremost being the passion and urge to develop oneself both mentally and physically. India's rich history accounts for a lot and we take a brief look at how body building has evolved in India over the years.

Traditional Bodybuilding

Vyayam is known as traditional Indian body building. This art is done with little to no equipment and is a traditional version of modern-day calisthenics. The basic uthak-baithak, Hindu pushup and all other traditional Indian exercises have never been forgotten. You will still find youngsters in akhadas across Indian performing these exercises whether it be for wrestling or just simple fitness. Every Indian wrestler has grown up doing these exercises and traditional body builders have been known to perform between 500-1500+ reps in a day.

An Akhada in Haryana(source- AP images)

Modern Bodybuilding

Indian body building was recognized at the WSF World Cup in 2016. Prior to that, India had been making efforts for the international community to recognise its rich modern body building culture. The famous reality show, 'Strongest Indian' made waves across the country for giving opportunities to youngsters as well as fame to the art. The gym culture boom in India over the past 20 odd years has contributed significantly with special gyms being open for body builders along with highly trained fitness instructors. The Indian Body Building and Fitness Federation(IBBF) has also been making efforts to ensure that body building competitions are held regularly.

Current state in India

Suhas Khamkar became the first Indian to win an international Mr. Olympia award when he placed second in the 2012 amateur Mr. Olympia event. Sangram Chougule has won Mr. World twice in 2014 and 2012 while Thakur Anoop Singh won the WBPF World Body Building Championship in 2015. Other notable body builders include Amit Chhetri, Varinder Singh Ghuram and Wasim Khan.

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