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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 shared with her husband on her 50th Birthday.

What he replied boosted her enthusiasm and not only did she set out to train harder at the gym, but also made it to the stage of Gladrags Mrs. India, of Ms. Fitness India, and to many others in the league.

His words were, “Go ahead and live your life, I am there with you.“ And I was smiling from ear to ear when she said that not only has he never missed any of her competitions, but also assists her in applying the body-tan and makeup backstage.

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 instil the importance of fitness in as many minds through the unique mix of yoga and strength training – Yogastrength  as her classes are called. But alongside, the Super Woman also prepares 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 inspired 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

What made you recognise your passion for fitness – memories from childhood?

I was in ninth grade when I started training for karate; I was a good fighter, and very tough. No one in my family shared similar inclinations, and I come from a rather conservative Muslim household. But my parents were always very supportive, and that I believe made all the difference. Imagine, I was the first girl to get a bike, and which I drove all around the Bombay city wearing a burqa!

I saw a recent photo of you riding a Harley Davidson! Out on a romantic fitness date, were you?

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. 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 was determined to make it happen and soon had him on the same page too. 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 helps me put on the tan 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 too.

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 have never been the one to shy away, but that is not to say that I did not have my fair share of inhibitions to deal with. Regarding being on stage, presenting myself, and the likes. But it was my deep desire to do it, my ‘want’, that helped me transform, and now I go “bindaas” sporting a bikini, whether it is a competition or a beach vacation.

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. My competitors are mostly my daughter’s age, and the winners are picked from them – I mean 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, is my real win and what makes me happier.

How would you describe 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 chose. Sometimes their decisions could go haywire, but I have always stood for 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. Not only will it contribute in their overall growth but also help them become happy human beings!

Nishriin Parikh

And how about your son? 

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

Have you ever been greeted with ageism?

Never. I have only received love and appreciation from everyone. Sometimes in social gatherings, people come to me with such sweet and sincere words of admiration. You know the best feeling is to hear someone say that they seek inspiration from me. It leaves me with that “mission accomplished” feeling.

Nishriin Parikh

The only advice I have for people, regardless the 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 look sexy, or worse, who believe that they can’t. A woman can look sexy, no matter her age! Work on yourself, eat right, exercise right, and be happy. The bottom-line is to always 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 her do 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.

… 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

Heading towards your fitness routine now, if you could give a quick glance of your fitness-centric day?

I wake up early and keep on my toes all day. So much so that I am 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!

Nishriin Parikh

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

I wear shorts and racer backs. No sleeved tees for me, she laughed.

Well, she has all the muscles to flaunt. 

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 said to me – aunty, you look so good, you give us complex. Nishriin’s reply?

Nishriin Parikh

“But darling, you can sport just as good a body, if only you’d get rid of your pizzas, pastas, alcohol, and get working out!”

I spotted quite a lot of interesting tattoos in your photos. 

All my tattoos hold a meaning. On my back I have a Butterfly, which depicts its transformation from being in a cocoon to becoming a beautiful butterfly – signifying “life is short”. On the calf is a Mandala, which is a powerful meditation technique that helps you focus on “being yourself”. There’s a Lotus, which says 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.

Nishriin Parikh

What does your diet-chart look like?

I take a grain-free diet. I eat lots of seasoned nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, and lot of water. If you consume a desired amount of all of these essentials, you can nourish your body’s requirement of carbohydrates and fiber 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, else it can be calling out to injuries. So if one’s religion/ personal choice allows, eat eggs without going on the taste factor – keeping in mind 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, 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 accordingly plan a diet for yourself.

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

My staff has gotten accustomed to it 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, if you virtually sift through some wedding memories, you’ll spot majority of 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.

How do 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, 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 whilst 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 and in every aspect. The path that I chose and the choices I made, now help me share the wisdom I have acquired. 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 overused ‘perfect me’; final thoughts on the journey so far?

Well, I am happy.


This article was first published on November 27, 2017.

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