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Arunima Maharshi

IWB Blogger

Body-Builder Mom Nishriin Makes Our Fitness Beliefs Do A Headstand

  • IWB Post
  •  June 7, 2019

“I have been the best daughter, best mother, best wife, and I now want to live my life as the best me,” Nishriin expressed to her husband on her 50th Birthday.

What her husband replied added to her enthusiasm and she set out to train harder at the gym, and participated in Gladrags Mrs. India and many other Ms. Fitness India competitions.

His words were, “Go ahead and live your life, I am there with you.“ And I was smiling from ear to ear when she shared that not only has he never missed any of her competitions, but is also the one who helps her apply the body-tan and makeup.

A black belt in Karate, Nishriin Parikh is a mother of two, 26-year-old son and 24-year-old daughter. A national award winning fitness trainer, she is determined to instill the importance of fitness in as many minds through her Yogastrength classes that offer a unique mix of yoga and strength training. But alongside, the Super Woman is also preparing for competitions, currently aiming to represent Asia in the International Bodybuilding Competition that is to happen in Goa next year.

I am a regular at gym since last many years, but having talked to Nishriin, I feel boosted like never before. So if you have been giving yourself the ‘no time for exercise’ excuse, you ought not to excuse yourself from scrolling on:

Nishriin Parikh

You kick-started your fitness journey at quite an early age, did your family offer that environment?

I was in ninth grade when I started training for karate. I was a good fighter, and very tough. There was no one in my family who had similar inclinations, and I belonged to a rather conservative Muslim family. But my parents very were supportive, and that was all that is needed perhaps. Imagine I was the first girl to get a bike, which I used to drive all around the Bombay city wearing a burqa. (Whoa!)

That reminds me, I saw a recent photo of you biking a Harley Davidson! Out on a romantic fitness date with husband, were you? *wink*

Ha-ha yes. My husband is just as much a fitness freak, and a four degree karate black belt. Speaking of romantic date, our first meeting was no less than an epic romantic tryst. So we bumped into each other at a karate camp 37 years ago. He being a Gujju-jain was a hardcore vegetarian, and I, a hardcore non vegetarian, and that had him convinced beforehand that “we” were not possible, but I decided to change it and that got him really determined. And here we are, happily married and parents of two!

Nishriin Parikh

She further added, not once has he missed my competitions, in fact it is him who tans me before I go on stage, and if at times my daughter is not able to come along, he doesn’t shy away from helping me with the mascara!

Tell me about your experience of competing with twenty-five-year olds?

At my 50th birthday last year, I dared myself to do something that I had never done before. I was someone who was not shy, but like many other women, had inhibitions about going on stage and presenting myself. But it was my ‘want’ that helped me transform, and now I go “bindaas” sporting a bikini, whether it is on a competition stage or a beach vacation! (What a badass woman, you are thinking?)

Nishriin Parikh

I participate in competitions because I want to, I go on stage a happy person, and I come off stage the same happy person. All the other girls are of my daughter’s age, and the winners are of course picked from them, because c’mon they ought to pick the girls with long beautiful curls, not someone with short and grey hair, she laughed. But it’s all about mindset, the fact that they don’t see me as competition and instead seek inspiration from me, makes me happier.

How is your relationship with your daughter? What pointers on body positivity does she get from her oh-so-fit mum?

My daughter is my biggest support, and she adores me. When she goes clubbing, the first person she asks out is her mum. Both my children have been into gymnastics and I have always supported all their choices. Be it music, food, or the sport they picked on. Sometimes their decisions could go haywire, but I stand behind them.

And Nishriin here had a message for all the parents: Please don’t stop your children from experimenting. Academics are important, but so are sports. Let them play, that will only add to their overall growth and help them become happy human beings!

Nishriin Parikh

And how about your son? I was just about to ask his reaction and involvement?

He, too, loves mum. He lives in the US, but we are catching up on phone all the time. He’d call me and seek advice about his diet and workout, etc. Sometimes when I call him, he’s at gym, and is like, “mom, I am working out,” the happily proud mum in her shared.

Have you ever been greeted with ageism?

Never, I have only received love and appreciation from everyone! Sometimes in parties, people would come to me and express their appreciation. You know the best feeling is when someone says that I have inspired them. It gives me that “mission accomplished” feeling!

Nishriin Parikh

My only advice to any and every person, regardless their age, is to stay fit and active! How much does it take to do this favour to self. Especially to women who think that with age they don’t need to, or can’t look sexy. A woman can look sexier, no matter her age! Work on yourself, eat right, exercise right, and be happy. The bottom-line is to take care of your health.

I’m so keen to get a glimpse of your family ‘bonding over fitness’ moment!

All four of us do headstands together, and have lot of fun doing it. My husband is a regular in my class, and so is my mother-in-law. She got operated for knee replacement years ago, but regular exercise has made her capable of doing all the asanas and workouts.

Nishriin Parikh

And your cute little doggo, does he/she happen to be the only couch potato of the family?

Aww! No, he’s not a couch potato, he’s too tiny, and is very active.

And she contemplated, we all have a kid inside, and I think we should not lose touch with it. What is the fun in growing up, stay a kid!

Nishriin Parikh

Okay, Nishrrin, let’s head to exploring your fitness routine! May I get a quick glance of your fitness-centric day?

I wake up early, remain on my toes all day, and ready to run a marathon any moment, she laughed. I am at gym for two hours for my strength training, and then I take Yogastrength classes, wherein I am exercising along with my students, in all the batches. Most importantly, I am in the moment and completely engrossed in the task at hand, and get a sound and joyful sleep.

What do you have to say to people worrying about “Fitness Burnout”?

First get hot, then will happen burnout! … And we both laughed

Nishriin Parikh

Ahem. And how do you like your gym-wear to be?

Oh, I wear my shorts and racer backs. No sleeved tees for me, she laughed. Well, you have all the muscles to flaunt, I added. Ha-ha.

I used to be the person who’d wear a costume to beach, but now I confidently sport bikinis. One of my son’s friends once told me, aunty, you look so good, you’re giving us complex! Nishriin’s reply?

Nishriin Parikh

“But darling, you can sport as good a body, all that you need to do is to get rid of your pizzas, pastas, alcohol, and, get working out!”

I spotted quite a lot of interesting tattoos in your photos! Share with me few behind-the-tattoo stories, would you?

All my tattoos hold a meaning! The one that you saw on the back is a Butterfly that depicts its quick transformation from a cocoon to becoming a beautiful butterfly, signifying “life is short”. The one on the calf is a Mandala, which speaks of a powerful meditation technique that helps to keep your focus on “being yourself”. There’s a Lotus, saying, regardless of your (muddy) circumstances, you can still grow up beautiful. And among others, there’s Yin and Yang reflecting on the dual nature of life; symbol of infinite love; and another for peace. (Wowow!)

Nishriin Parikh

What does your diet-chart look like?

I take a grain-free diet. I eat lots of seasoned nuts and seeds, lots of fruits and vegetables, and lots of water, she stressed. If you consume a desired amount of all of these essentials, you can nourish your body’s requirement of carbohydrates and fiber very, very well. As for protein, nuts and seeds take care of that, too. But in the case of strength training, it becomes important to provide good protein to your muscles, because otherwise it can become the case of inviting an injury. So if religion allows, eat eggs without going on the taste factor, just remember that your body needs it. Or else, take extra supplement.

Nishriin Parikh

She continued…

For water consumption, don’t try to substitute it with juices, it leads to lot of sugar intake and doesn’t compensate the water requirement. You could either have plain water, or infuse some kokam, or any of the spices that we use for masala-tea. I eat fruits pre and post workout, and mostly a banana. Though if you’re not going for a run or high-intensity workout, then you could probably substitute it with an apple, to avoid the high sugar content of banana.

My advice is, research what works well for your body, and then start following a diet!

So how does your home kitchen cater to the different demands?

My staff does it well now. Though I have been trying to change the food habits of everyone I meet, let alone my family. But sadly people get ruled by their tongues. Speaking of which, just sift through wedding memories, and tell me if you are cannot spot people holding plates “loaded” with just anything and everything. And I am quoting this example only to point out that we all have conditioned our minds to not understand our capacity and hunger, the consequence of which is then dealt by our body.

Would you like to address the people who must be standing high-alarmed at the mention of grain-free diet?

Try it first. If your energy levels don’t go up, then tell me!

Nishriin Parikh

Also, a piece of your mind for the ‘say no to supplements’ mindset?

It’s a simple fact, if you’re making your muscles work out, you need to give them nutrition to avoid them from getting worn out. And they derive nutrition from protein rich food which should constitute Zinc, Magnesium, Lead, Calcium, etc. So if your regular diet doesn’t have ample protein source, you have to take a supplement. Now I am aware that there exist lots of brands in the market selling synthetic stuff, and hence the need of good research.

Curiosity driven I began my research and found out GNC authentic like none other. They are a bit expensive, but completely trustworthy, and I have long been using their products, of course, always saving extra.

I got so engrossed in our conversation that almost forgot to ask about how you manage to get the Yoga-You and Gym-You interact with each other?

Yoga is not a workout; it is a way of life. It is a philosophy, and doesn’t comprise of asanas alone. So if you follow yogic kriya, make it your religion, regardless of whether you muscle train or not.

But if you do go to gym for strength training, yoga complements it all the more. I am 51, completely in the phase of menopause, but not once have I experienced the hot flushes and other issues that women of my age often complain about. This is because I train at the gym for two hours every day and then do yoga while training my students. And among many other benefits, it also relaxes my muscles.

Nishriin Parikh

And how do you inculcate the importance of body-positivity in your students?

I guide them throughout. I have made the right choices, and that has helped turn my experience into wisdom. So I speak the truth and rightfully share with my students and everyone. We all must remember that as we grow old we tend to lose muscle mass, and it is very important that we work out to tone them and provide the necessary nutrition.

Well, Nishriin, you had me at the use of ‘best me’ instead of the over-clichéd ‘perfect me’; final thoughts on the journey so far?

Well, I am happy.

And happier that you’ve come this far, I added? Could only imagine that smile she must have had on her face when she replied, yes, you got me right!


This article was first published on November 27, 2017.

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