Maya Rathod is an unsung hero who has made India proud. Her profile can be summed up in three varied aspects of life – a gynaecologist, a mother of two and a bodybuilding champion. The Humans of Bombay shared her inspiring journey through their Facebook page on Friday.
Maya, aged 30, was always interested in sports since her childhood. Being good at sports, she was recognised as the best athlete in campus. Despite her parents' disapproval, Maya still persisted in her passion for sports. 'If you hurt yourself, no one will marry you.' Still, I'd skip my Bharatnatyam classes to attend Taekwondo training and then play cricket all evening! When I told Dad that I wanted to be an athlete, he said, 'You're a girl, you should pursue a more respectable profession.' Maya wrote on the Humans of Bombay page.
She still had the zeal to s study and went to a medical college to become a gynecologist. During her medical college days, she was being ragged by a male senior at college, where she was challenged to play cricket and she had defeated the senior.
As soon as college ended, Maya got married, and within a year, she was blessed with her first daughter. Her life revolved around doing her medical duty and her motherhood "But I began losing myself–I'd put on a lot of weight and was tired all the time. I broke down one day thinking, 'This isn't me," It is when a friend suggested her to hit the gym. Within a year, Maya lost 20 kilos. Her coach was so impressed with her progress, that he inspired Maya to take up bodybuilding.
Thus Maya's new chapter of life began with her love for lifting weights. She attented a bodybuilding competition and saw very few women bodybuilders taking part. This is what motivated her to be more active in competitions. "While my husband encouraged me, my parents and in-laws said, 'You've got a stable job, what's the need?', 'Bodybuilding doesn't suit a mother.' But I wanted to do it for me."
Maya began her training, while she was still breastfeeding her daughter, and was working in 36-hour hospital shifts. In two years of time, she first appeared on stage for a bodybuilding competition where she stood second. Then she went on to participate in state-level championships.
She moved on to Sydney to complete her PhD and had her second daughter. "I wanted to show that an Indian woman could do anything she sets her mind to! So for the next 8 months, I'd train from 4 AM to 7 AM, drop my elder daughter to school, cook, and then leave for the hospital. After putting my kids to bed, I'd train from 10 PM to 1 AM.
My hard work finally paid off when I won the IFFB 2021 Australasian Championship! I became the first woman of colour to have ever contested on Australian soil!"
Maya has been bodybuilding for the last eight years. "The truth is, all I did was make time for something that I truly loved. And I stopped caring about what people have to say about MY choices–I have one life and I'm not going to limit myself. I'm a mother, a doctor AND a bodybuilder and I wouldn't have it any other way."