Engineering her way into PowerLifting arena—Minakshi Shukla.
Ramdas Shenoyy in conversation with the founder at B Functional with Mini.
The journey– how it all started, why and how she ventured into powerlifting as a sport
Being an army officer’s daughter, she used to play different sports since childhood in school and otherwise and somewhere as she grew up it buried deep into her spirit. Whenever she got a chance she would not miss and would play with her peers or run in the rains of the city she lived that time.
After having her son, she had put on lots of weight and cellulite was sagging from all the dimensions of her body and there was no way she was comfortable looking at herself in the mirror. Next step of course, joined the gym to lose weight, started with weight training and that sportsmanship buried deep under, surfaced and she was pumping weights like a hulk, literally. Totally enjoyed and motivated by family members and coaches to compete professionally. There was no looking back!
Childhood memory — inspiration moment.
Mini has a never give up attitude. She is a passionate lady and loves her work. As per Minakshi “One of the moments I recall was at my school – where they held a racing competition on sports day when I was In primary school, the moment everyone started running I twisted my ankle but kept on going despite the pain Though I finished last but that moment I knew my strength to endure the pain and finish what I had started”.
Her inspiration was her father. She loved watching him dress up in sports whites and go for early morning P.T sessions with his fellow team mates. They would play a sport, run with pitthus, and this was totally fascinating. She has frozen those days in her mind and relives it every day.
From Engineering to sports
Mini said , “Actually, I did not choose that as a profession. It was our parents who decided for us back then. Transition was quite gradual after my son was born and that onset of joining the gym followed by professional powerlifting sports”.
Difference and similarities as an Engineer and a Power lifter
In Powerlifting we break records and in engineering we do constructive construction per se. Well, having said that she totally enjoys competing with other strong athletes and plans to compete at international platform in coming years. Powerlifting sport is her passion and not a mere routine and she look forward to train every day for the same, and she means it to the Tee.
Mini says, “For me it is like working with iron in both the cases. I somehow feel so connected with the power and strength associated with both the professions. The rawness in constructing and playing with the arrangement in both cases fascinates me always”.
Some brief on Power Lifting sports. How can one pursue Powerlifting as a sport? Any entry age?
Powerlifting is an absolute show of strength combined with technique, flexibility and speed. Power lifting has many health benefits and that’s the main reason she would want to continue playing this sport for as long as she can. Along with physical strength it showcases and checks your mental strength as well. In powerlifting, the mind rules the body and channelizes the pain into doing something so very productive in front of a large crowd and being judged at the same time.
As per Mini, “Sports is my first love and will always be and that’s the reason I decided to pursue it at this age as well. Powerlifting mostly being a mind game can be pursued at any age provided you learn to tame and align your physical as well as mental strength”. Mini started playing professionally in her 30s and plans to continue the sport till whatever age she can. “It’s like a dope for me the moment I hit my 1 RM (one repetition maximum) and get a white card from all three judges. One also has to be careful while training and gradually proceed with loading those weights on the Olympic bar. It can be an injury-prone sport if you do not follow the right approach and routine to train your self for the same” Mini added
What does it take to be a Power lifter that too in a sport dominated by men?
Well, a very appropriate question I was looking forward to. Mini said “Yes, it’s a man dominated sport and especially being a mother and at my age I am continuously discouraged from being a part of this sport and I am still struggling and trying to move in forward direction”.
Her idol in Power lifting
“Actually, I idolise the Olympian Indian boxer Mary Kom. Totally inspired by her journey and even after being a mother to 3 sons nothing could stop her from doing what she loved and winning at the Olympics”.
In India, do you think sports is a good option for youngsters( except Cricket) you see others struggling in other sports?
Yes, in current scenario youngsters should pursue other sports with studies apart from cricket as there is so much scope to excel and perform and choose from. In India we have so much talent not only in cities but in small towns as well. We need to introduce different sports to them and encourage them to participate and play.
Woman in power sports! Society, corporates(sponsors), view at these sports
A lot of preparation goes behind the scenes for that single power lift that you see at the championship. Right from balancing things at home to managing the finances to a strict fitness regime with proper diet, recovery and much more. Powerlifting at 41yrs is a different ball game altogether. From taking care of her family, finding time and the energy for her weight training, everything needs to function in tandem day-in and day-out. Focus is very important when it comes to weight training which holds true for any sport for that matter, so one has to gather one’s conscious literally and put your mind, body and conviction on that Olympic bar and believe that I can do it.
“At times coaches, sponsors and other associates do raise their brows whether my passion can meet the practical approach and if I am able to actually understand the demand and ground reality of the sport at all levels”, said Mini.
Gender equality mean to you? What do you advice your son on the same?
Mini said, “Me and my brother were treated equal while growing up and I was never deprived of any opportunity that came my way. My mother who is still a practising criminal lawyer never treated us differently rather I was the privileged one at times. Gender equality for me would be bearing and sharing the same responsibilities opportunities and, most importantly, sharing freedom equally without any consideration based on gender and age.
I think rather practise than teach them, kids learn what they see, so we as a family follow mutual respect, giving personal freedom and space to inculcate the same. I would want my son to treat all other genders with love, care and equality.
Vision of B functional with Mini
B Functional with Mini is a unique concept in functional fitness and she plans to introduce regular and sustainable fitness programs across corporates. Corporate fitness she believe takes a back seat be it physical or at mental level. With stress levels shooting up in our daily lives it has become a part of our work culture, B Functional with Mini can help them handle/reduce the same with regular fitness programs in bootcamps, meditation, yoga, functional and mobility workout regimes. They focus on workout anywhere and anytime with your own bodyweight.
We also cater to mother and child health with complete health orientation programs with special emphasis on Women’s fitness at any age.
She is currently associated with SPAA India (sports academy association of India), Maatri.com (a complete mother and child care), Strength coach for marathon runners GRR(Gurgaon road runners) and also conduct corporate sessions.
Your highs and lows of life and your learnings
Mini is a hidden power house of talent, very humble in her thought process. She said, “I think my high is yet to come, it would be a great honour the day I get to compete on an International platform and represent my country”.
Two years back she had some knee injury and was told that she could not play the sport. She made a full recovery and played this year at Talkatora Stadium and won 2 gold medals in deadlift and benchpress. Also, she won a gold in kettlebell championship in February in Delhi in 2020.