Sapna Khanna, 48, a resident of Sector 29, has recently won the title of Ms Fitness India (classic category), a fitness competition organized by FSSA (Fitness and Sports Sciences Association). Sapna had to go through seven rounds to win the competition, which included deadlift, push-ups, planks, sit-ups, bench press, flexibility and the stage round. “We had to lift weight which was one-and-a-half times of our body weight for the deadlift, and 0.8 times for the bench press. During each round, we had to start from the lowest weight and then gradually go up. There was one point of time in the competition, when the weights almost fell on my throat during a bench press. But still, I managed to complete the round,” she says. A mother of two, Sapna has been hitting the gym for over 25 years now and says Noidawallahs have only recently started focusing on fitness. Sapna’s journey started way back in the ’80s when working out in the gym was considered only for bodybuilders.
‘In the '90s, there were hardly any gyms in Noida for women’ Sapna, who came to Noida in the early 1990s, says that fitness was never a priority with people in the city during that time. “When I used to go out for runs on Noida streets and parks, the scene was completely different from what it is now. There were only a few others who would come for a walk. I used to be the only woman who used to go out for a run and focus on her fitness,” says Sapna, adding, “There wasn’t a single gym in the city where women could go and work out. The existing ones were full of bodybuilders and bouncers. I used to be the only woman.”
Having stayed in Noida for over 25 years, Sapna has seen the fitness boom hit Noida and alter the mindset of people regarding personal health. She started her career as a media professional but is a certified fitness trainer now. “Fitness culture in Noida has completely transformed in the past 20 years. Earlier, people just used to take a walk around a nearby park and consider themselves fit. It was only after 2000 that more gyms started coming up in Noida and people gradually started taking their workouts seriously. Today, every locality or residential society in Noida has a gym,” she says.
The competition, which was held in Pune, had two categories – amateur and classic. While the amateur one was for those who had been training for less than a year, the classic category was for those who had been training for more than a year. “I used to think that I am a stud and I am the only one here who is fit. But after the competition, I realized that there are so many other women out there who are doing exactly what I am doing,” says Sapna, who competed in the classic category.
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