Name: Yashmeen Manak
Competition weight: 60 Kgs
Current weight: 63 – 64 Kgs
Current city: Gurgaon, India
Occupation: Owner of SCULPT Gym, Professional Athlete, Prep Coach
Tell us a bit about your life growing up:
Growing up has been the biggest challenge to date for me. When I was just 2 years old, my mother eloped with her lover to marry him and my father too remarried after sometime deserting me. I was brought up by my paternal grandparents in a big joint family.
My grandfather was a retired colonel from the army and I have inculcated a lot of values from him. When I was out of school I tried to live with my father and step-mother but it could not last for more than 6 months and I am so glad I stepped out of that nightmare.
I was affected a lot emotionally and mentally but by God’s grace I survived through everything.
I remember myself as an introvert and a very shy girl till high school but how gradually I became a rebel, a stubborn and strong headed fearless woman is a long story. I started working at the age of 17 as I wanted to be independent. In the mornings I used to teach in a kindergarten while in the evenings I used to teach aerobics at a neighbourhood gym where I worked as a group class instructor. My first salary was Rs1,500+- per month.
Have you always lived a fit lifestyle? What got you started?
Since childhood, I started putting on a lot of weight owing to the treatment of a serious and prolonged illness, and this weight gain became almost incessant. Not just the weight gain, a terrible bout of acne was also a side effect.
Although I knew how ugly I looked and wanted to do something about it, everybody, be it in school or friends and family ridiculed me to the extent that I was almost on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Deep inside I knew that one fine day I am going to show them all what I am made of. How? I did not know then but I will, so sure I was. Once I was out of school, I joined a neighbourhood gym and it all started.
How do you manage to stay motivated and consistent throughout your training and eating right? Do you think it requires a lot of sacrifices?
I am a very hard working, strong headed and focussed woman. If I set a goal then nothing and absolutely NOTHING can distract me. This comes naturally to me. I am blessed with a strong will power and yes, it requires a lot of sacrifices.
The one and only major setback has been growing up without parents despite both of my parents being there. Growing up without any emotional support and rather with emotional and mental distress.
I overcame the worst phase of my life with solely my will power and my “Never Never Never Give Up” attitude.
Take us through an average day of yours:
- I wake up at 5.30 AM Or 6.30 AM ( On the days I take a group class at my gym SCULPT. Till sometime back I used to wake up at 4.45AM as I used to take 2 classes back-to-back starting from 6AM to 8.30 AM but now as I am occupied with too many other things I have cut down on taking group classes.) Play with my pet puppy Gucci for a while and then get ready for work.
- Go to the gym riding my Desert Storm 500cc ( I just wait for this moment everyday. Haha ) or at times my SUV, Scorpio ( I am not at all a sedan person).
- Take a group class or attend to my people.
- Come back home and cook ( I cook all my meals. My maid helps me with chopping, etc. ). Alongside I do my daily household and Gym related chores too.
- At times I have to go out for some work then I make sure I prepare my meals in advance and carry them.
- Post afternoon meal if I am at home then I try to take a nap (which is rare).
- Then comes a little bit of study and some work related to my future projects and plannings, say, my homework for that :D
- Post all this I start preparing for my evening training pre-workout and post workout meal prep, training plan for the day, etc.
- I am in the gym at 6 or 6.30 PM and back home by 9 or 9.30PM (at times 10 PM as it depends upon how much work I have apart from my training).
- At times when I know I will not be able to train in the evening, I plan my workout in the morning. Those evenings are very rare and are dedicated to a few beautiful souls I am blessed in my life. I have a very small friend circle and I like to go out, party, have fun, giggle with my small positive circle.
- Post the last meal of the day which is at around 10 or 10.30 I sit with my diary and pen to write down my “To Do” list for the next day (I still believe in writing everything in a copy or diary).
- I am in bed by 11.30 or 12 but because I suffer from insomnia it takes me some time to fall asleep.
What are your top Nutrition tips for the ladies for keeping in shape?
- Eat Breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. I understand your family is important but then YOU are important too.
- Eat small frequent meals.
- Do NOT starve yourself or stay hungry for long.
- Do NOT fall prey to fad diets.
- Every Woman Should Supplement their diet with Calcium and Vit D3 after consulting your nutritionist.
- There is no need to fast most days of the week in the name of religion. God never asked you to. Moreover, in the name of fasting what all you end up eating is far dangerous from what you eat on a regular day.
Do you follow quite a strict diet? Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your diet:
Yes I follow a strict diet almost all the year round. It has become a lifestyle now. But I do binge on my favourite, not healthy food item (and that is Ice Creams and nothing else tempts me) every now and then.
I eat to nourish my body. I eat for performance. Food, to me is a fuel to my goals and for me it is very important to nurture my goals with the right fuel.
By now I know well what suits my body and what all is rejected by my body. I never turn to food to enjoy myself or have a great time as I believe that there is a lot to do if I want to enjoy, have fun and have a great time apart from just eating junk which is not going to do any good to my hard earned body.
Do you weigh all your food and track the numbers when it comes to calories of everything you eat?
Yes I do that and I believe that it is very important if you are a competitive athlete.
Which 3 common fitness myths do you think most women fall prey to?
- Cardio: The more the better.
- Target fat Loss: If my waist carries a lot of fat then I should do side bends everyday. If my hips and thighs are my problem areas then I should train them everyday…blah blah blah.
- Eating too little will get me in shape.
Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your training and on average how long do you workout for?
I had been experimenting with various training methods for years (since when there was no access to internet based knowledge) and have gradually come to a conclusion
that when it comes to hypertrophy, my upper body responds to moderate repetition range (say 12 reps, with heavy weight of course) while my lower body responds to less to moderate repetition range (6 to 8 or 10).
However, I periodize my training regularly. I train my body in every way possible and leave no stone unturned.
What got you interested in powerlifting?
I do it as a hobby. I like to do that because I get to beat my own best every time. Moreover, it gives me an adrenaline rush which I love to experience and at times there is no particular reason why I like to do something :)
Do you do much cardio with your training?
No, I do not do too much of cardio. I get serious about it only when I am close to a competition. I prefer doing High Intensity Interval Training, short, intense and to the point. Or I would prefer running/jogging in a park.
What are your 3 favourite exercises?
This is a compound exercise that engages your entire body and is extremely taxing on the muscles. It burns a lot of calories and builds a strong core. It is a power movement which equips the body in lifting heavy objects off the floor using the strength of the entire body.
This is the grand daddy of all lower body movements, an effective tool for increasing lower body strength and power. It is one of the most functional exercises.
3. Hip thrust:
The only movement which isolates the Glutes completely and apart from improving the strength and power, gives an amazingly aesthetic appeal to the backside ;)
This exercise also helps improve performance of athletes in various sports where speed along with strength and power are required to excel apart from improving the hip drive in the Deadlift and Squat.
What are your top training tips?
- Breathing Techniques play a very important role when it comes to repping out maxes on all the compound movements. I swear by valsalva maneuver.
- Always challenge your limits.
- Form and technique are extremely important so Do Not train your ego.
- Set realistic goals.
Favourite male Fitness models or bodybuilders?
When it comes to fitness, Milind Soman and Akshay Kumar. From Bollywood I like the kind of body John Abrahm has. Not just the body actually, it’s the overall personality. I like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kai Greene.
Favorite female fitness icon(s):
Our very own Bipasha Basu. Then come the pros like Dana Linn Bailey and Oksana Grishina.
Actually there are no favorites. There are many men and women in this field I do not know the names of but admire and respect what they are doing.
“I will do more than just move forward, I will bend but never break, I will keep coming around like a boomerang.”
“Trust yourself when all men doubt you.”
What is the one thing you see people do in the gym or when training which really annoys you?
Loading a weight way beyond their capacity and then ask the spotter (rather SUPPORTER I must say) to lift half of it throughout the movement right from the first repetition and then scream so loud as if they just experienced a mind blowing orgasm. Damn!
What is your advice to young girls who want to start working out and build a body like yours?
Get out of your comfort zone and be prepared mentally and physically because what lies ahead is not easy at all but is definitely worth it.
There cannot be any excuses because if you want something bad enough you will always discover a way or make one. I consult those who come to me and guide them as per their individual goals.
Have you competed before? What competitions have you competed in and your placings?
Last year I competed in a powerlifting competition at a fitness expo in Noida. I deadlifted a raw 150 kgs which was 20 kgs more than my max. It was an open category so I did not get any place. I was just 62 kgs whereas there were professional powerlifters weighing 80+ and 90+. The max weight deadlifted was 180kgs.
This year in March I participated in my first ever fitness model competition (there was NO category here) at The Body Power India Expo held in Mumbai. I won the First Runner Up Position.