Photo taken on September 7, 2018 shows female participants pose during the pre-judging round of 3rd Ladies Fitness Championship and Nationwide Bodybuilding Championship in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Xinhua/Sunil Sharma)
By Shristi Kafle
KATHMANDU, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Nepal hosted the 3rd Mr Kathmandu Bodybuilding and Ladies Fitness Championship in the capital city Kathmandu on Saturday.
The annual event organized by Kathmandu Body Building and Fitness Association, witnessed the participation of around 70 males in different weight categories, while five young females from different parts of the country also took to the stage to showcase their physique.
At a time when bodybuilding is mostly regarded as a sector or profession for men in the Nepali society, there are few Nepali women who are trying to break the barrier of patriarchy and trying to prove their confidence and strength.
Shova Manandhar from Kathmandu had no bounds of happiness when she was announced the winner of the championship amid hundreds of audiences roaring with cheers and applauds in the hall of Rastriya Naach Ghar.
"I started taking part in such competitions since last two years. I want to prove that women, too, can do something as men. The most important thing is women should move ahead in life as per own choices and decisions," winner Manandhar told Xinhua during the pre-judging round.
Both in the pre-judging round and in the grand finale, the female participants had showcased their muscles with full enthusiasm in front of judges and audiences.
Clad in colorful bikini and make up, the young and bold females appeared on the stage, introduced themselves and showed their strong physique with different postures reflecting their muscles.
Females showcased their overall quality of muscular development as per the instructions with confidence and smile.
The participants shared that they joined the championship to break the stereotype that says bodybuilding is only a men's profession.
"People don't look us in good way as they think that we are showing off our body. But I don't think bodybuilding should be taken negatively. Society should accept us the way they accept males," the youngest participant Pooja Shrestha shared with Xinhua.
Most of the participants had the similar views as they shared that they don't receive encouraging support from their family members and relatives.
Bodybuilding is not an easy task. Moreover, female bodybuilders have to do mandatory poses in bikini, flex their muscles, and show off their physique in contests, which requires a lot of effort, energy and confidence.
The female bodybuilders shared that they were able to make the strong body after months and years of rigorous training, proper diet, dedication and patience.
Sanam Mulguthi, a medical student from Bhaktapur, told Xinhua "It has been months that I haven't eaten crabs, junks and sweets. I even didn't eat cake on my birthday to maintain the body. It's a very challenging task"
In a depressing tone, she further said that her family members are against bodybuilding but she hopes that they would be convinced someday.
It has not been a long time that females in Nepal started joining bodybuilding. Nanita Maharjan is the first Nepali woman to win a medal in an international bodybuilding competition in 2016, who has won several awards at the national, regional and international levels.
Taking break from her work these days, the single-mother Maharjan serves as the judge of such bodybuilding competitions in Nepal. The 34-year-old Maharjan said that more women should break the conventional boundaries and start getting physically active.
"I feel very glad to see a large number of females entering into bodybuilding. It makes you fit, strong and healthy while such competitions provide exposure and confidence. Females are trying to get fit and healthy, which is a positive aspect," the medal-winning bodybuilder Nanita told Xinhua.
According to Kathmandu Body Building and Fitness Association, there are around 250 gyms in Kathmandu alone, while the number of people getting into gym and fitness centers has no exact calculation.
The association has its branches in around 50 districts out of 77 districts of the country. It confirms that the female participation is growing and is quiet encouraging.
Suresh Subedi, president of Kathmandu Body Building and Fitness Association, told Xinhua "In Nepal's history, there was no any competition for women bodybuilders until few years back. But there were many practitioners. So it's us who started this competition to provide a platform for females and to bring them into forefront."
He suggested that women should get into gym and fitness not just out of passion or as profession, but to stay fit and get healthy.