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Jayati Godhawat

IWB Blogger

Once Drugged & Wasted, Nilparna Sen Builds Her Muscles To Lead A Revolution

  • IWB Post
  •  September 17, 2016


It takes a lot of courage for a person to admit their wrongdoings and flaws, and that, too, in front of the world.

And, Nilparna Sen is one of them. Once consumed in parties, alcohol, and substance abuse, Nilparna realized that she was leading towards a dark pit with no future and hope for good. And, then started a transformation, not just of the body, but of the mind and the soul.

Now, the 24-year-old Nilparna is a gym trainer and a bodybuilder who wants to “build a league of women who will represent strength sports at the highest level.”

In an interview with IWB, Nilparna bares it all.

Talk about the life before you entered the fitness industry.

Nilparna: It was a life that ran on randomness, impulsive behavior and solely revolved around immediate gratification. Though I had always been academically very strong and was always amongst the toppers, I lacked the sincerity and the discipline to put my life in order. On one hand, I did work extremely hard for a few days just because “I was in the mood” (the reason why I had managed to get above average results in my exams), but it was highly dominated by my unhealthy habits. I thought I would be a mediocre advertising professional all my life, with a bunch of parties to look forward to every weekend.

Your constructive transformation has been a result of a destructive past. Do you think, sometimes, it’s the darkness that lightens up the path of future?

For me, personally, yes. I’ve faced the consequences of a destructive lifestyle. I’ve learned the reward and happiness of a disciplined lifestyle (which is the ‘lit-up future’ for me) the hard way. I don’t usually like to look back and over-analyze, but I think the realization of an absolute lack of discipline in my life triggered me to embrace it.

Wow, such a brave answer!

Coming from a small town sometimes, the girls try to fit in to the lifestyles of metros to look “cool.”

Nilparna:   This is a very wide topic. So, I’ll only stick to what girls perceive as “cool” when it comes to how their bodies should look. What I’ve seen in the industry is that, by far and large, metros or small towns, women are struggling hard to “get thinner”. 

I think that mentality is an effect of media rather than the metros. Because how your body looks is much complex than what you wear, fitness trends are not as transferable as a fashion trend. So what happens is, for instance, when we see an actor flaunting a “size zero” body, metros and small towns are influenced simultaneously. And, I’m referring to 99 percent of the female population of the whole country here.

But, NOW, I see a (though, very slowly) growing trend of women wanting to get stronger and tougher, physically. Thanks to Instagram, a few women now understand the difference between fit and thin. Currently, this is a trend that is more evident in the metros. And, I HOPE this inspires small town girls in the coming years.

Is there any specific memory of the moment when you decided to change your life for good?

Nilparna: It was a series of changes and mini-decisions that had happened (and still happening) over time.  

When the transformation began, you started preparing for the CAT exam and went on a crazy crash diet. Tell us about this initial phase.

Nilparna: I was always an “all-in” person. When I studied, I studied for 48 hours in a row without eating, sleeping, and talking. When I partied, I did it like all hell broke loose. So, when I realized that getting leaner required me to eat less, I ate WAY FREAKING LESS. And that has negative repercussions on the human body, psychologically and hormonally. So, the starvation led to binge eating moments, and the cycle went on and on. I beat myself up with under eating or over eating till I started viewing food as a fuel for performance.

Who guided you to the right direction and introduced body-building?

Nilparna:  So many people! But I’ve been most influenced by Kaizzad Capadia, Founder of K11 Academy of Fitness Sciences, who showed me the wonderful world of strength. Only after knowing him, I realized fitness was so much more than just getting rid of the body fat.

Have you ever been told, “Muscles are for boys and not girls?” Like, Bani J was shamed for being “too manly.” How do you respond to such stereotypes?Nilparna-Sen_2

Nilparna:  Honestly, the number of people who are inspired by what I do is a way more than the number of people who would tell me THESE THINGS. And, I’m too busy in promoting the value of strength, rather than wasting my time, fighting stereotypes. I like my body to do the talking part in this matter.

You train women in bodybuilding and powerlifting. Yet, most women resist taking up this fitness routine. How do you explain the benefits?

Nilparna: The issue is that most women deal with obesity, and their prime focus is to get rid of the unwanted body fat. They always view strength training as an “advanced step”. Which is why they usually never take it up. In a country, where the fitness industry is so infantile, getting women through this phase becomes challenging and in most cases, remain unsuccessful.

Physical Fitness also requires determination and mental strength, how do you train your women clients to presevere mentally?

Nilparna:  It is truly an art. I would just say that the universal step number one is education. Educating them on the “why and how” of physical fitness makes all the difference. Step number two is very individualistic. Every athlete (that is what I refer to all my clients to ) has their own set of physical and mental setbacks to fight. Each one of them will require a different coaching approach to maximize their potential.

“Skinny means fit.” Comment.

It only means very high metabolism and/or under-eating.

We inspected into her preferences, dislikes, dreams, etc., through a sprint question-answer round. Check it out:

You would ditch your workout only for…

Nilparna: Umm….. *thinking hard* I honestly have no answer to this. 

Biggest fitness myth?

Nilparna: You can target body fat from particular areas.

The happiest moment during the transformation phase?

Nilparna: Everyday!

Your fitness dream?

Nilparna: To build my league of women who will represent strength sports at the highest level.

Fitness icon?

Nilparna:  Oksana Grishina, Miss. Fitness Olympia – truly represents everything that requires the very best of fitness. Look her up! 

Your workout playlist includes…

Nilparna:  Gangster rap, heavy metal. I usually play ONE single song on loop for an entire training session. It becomes my meditation song.

What food do you start your day with?

Nilparna:  Eggs or Chicken

Other hobbies?

Nilparna: Books, I’m a great fan of Classic Russian Literature, business books, mindset strategy books and other non-fiction. Though I do not find much time for it now, I’m a BIG Cinephile, too. There was a time when I studied more than three films in a day.


If ever India had a Fitness Ministry and you were the Fitness Minister, what would be the first bill you pass and enforce?

Nilparna: Restructure the Dietary Guidelines of India.

Photo Source: Nilparna Sen Instagram

This article was first published on August 16, 2016.

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