She’s a bikini athlete, marathon runner, corporate trainer and motivational speaker. Karishma Sharma is all those things and so much more. As India’s first IFBB Bikini Athlete who competed internationally to spearheading corporate seminars on well-being, Karishma is a go-getter and an inspiration to many. It’s rare to find the humility that Karishma exudes with the accomplishments she has achieved in such a short span of time. Mobiefit interviewed Karishma for some insight on what it takes to be a superwoman who successfully manages an envious body and a hectic work schedule.
What made you take up bodybuilding? Were you always a fitness buff?
I started my fitness journey when I was 28 years, and without any prior experience in sports or athletics. I began by going on short runs, slowly progressing towards running half marathons and full marathons. Running is a real test of endurance and it was a big turn on for me to discover something that helped me cope with many issues (professional and personal). This in fact paved the way for me to pursue bodybuilding. The whole concept of pushing my body beyond its confined limits made me take up bodybuilding. I started working out on a whim and was totally new to many exercises. I reached out to a couple of world class trainers like Dennis James, who helped me understand my body better and showed me how I could improve.
I strongly believe that commitment is what transforms a fear into a possibility. And once I started seeing results and getting positive feedback for my gains, I began participating in bodybuilding competitions. My first win was the title of the “Best Fit Body”, at the National pageant held by Gold’s Gym, March 2010. After participating and winning accolades at many national level competitions, I decided that I should compete internationally. I went on to compete at the Gemmalyn Crossby Sports Festival 2014 held in Philippines to win the 3rd place. I participated again in the Gemmalyn Crossby 2015 and won the 2nd place in the Bikini Division. In 2016 I was ranked in the Top 10 for the Arnold Classic Bodybuilding. I have also won the Miss Delhi 2016 and Miss India 2016 (First runner up), in Women Fitness and Best Physique Championship.
What were some of the challenges and how did you overcome them?
I have always been self-motivated. So if a challenge is thrown at me, I will device a blow-by-blow plan to overcome it. There are several challenges I faced, no doubt. But some of the biggest ones were (and still are) time-management and diet. My personal mechanism is that I get committed to a goal and the actions naturally follow. When you want it badly, you will give it your best. But that said, managing a job and a workout schedule is tougher than it sounds. And not to forget the long hours of commute!
Striking a balance between workouts, job, and personal commitments can be very challenging and real test to your physical and mental ability. So I start my day at 5:30 am by hitting the gym. I carry all my meals of the day and get ready in the gym and head to work. When I have my meals packed, I have sufficient food and don’t have to compromise on my diet by simply eating anything that’s available. The next big diet challenge that I face is family weddings or other festivities at home. When all your folks are happy and celebrating, it can be very hard to stick to a diet. But when I am competing I have to.
The criteria for a Bikini Athlete is a toned and lean body, not too muscular. Glutes play a critical role when you are being judged for the competition, and I must admit shaping them remains a biggest challenge for Indian women. I say so because here genetics play a big role.
Do you have any role models or people that inspire you?
Well, I respect a lot of people in the fitness industry and look up to them. Every sport or activity has its own set of hardships that one has to overcome. Being a Bikini Athlete I follow the experts in this category and their dedication and persistence is what inspires me. I follow a similar lifestyle, which means no cheats, no skipping workouts – requires commitment and patience! However, I also look up to athletes from other sports, who are doing a lot of exciting and adventurous stuff.
For example, Richard Bowles, an Australian ultra-marathon and adventure based runner, the first person to have run the world’s longest multi-use marked trail. He runs in the most dangerous and craziest places in the world putting his life at risk and has set multiple world records. Then there are athletes like Malvath Poorna, who is the youngest climber to scale Mount Everest at the young age of 13! Now that is inspiring! In my view, there is a lot to learn from all those who are pursuing their passion – each one have a story and it’s inspirational its own way!
What does your diet comprise of? Do you have any favorites?
My diet is high in protein and fiber,moderate carbs and low in fats. As opposed to popular belief, carbs are important in muscle preservation and recovery and hence shouldn’t be cut out completely. I also do not believe in bulking up, as the category (Bikini Athlete) I compete in needs one to maintain a lean body. I try and stay as close as possible to my competition weight throughout the year. As for favorites, I love a meal of salmon, steamed veggies with sweet or baked potato. But if I am feeling crafty then I will definitely opt for Mom’s Rajma chawal and aloo paratha.
What about supplements? Do you have any preferences?
I take supplements because they help in muscle recovery. So I prefer sticking to basics that do help me, and these include BCAA, whey protein, multi vitamins, glutamine and vitamin C.
Besides bodybuilding, what does your future hold?
I am a marketing and communications professional, and would like to use that to my aid. I want to pursue leading the corporate wellness programs and workshops, and inspire more people to get into fitness. Another area I see myself pursuing is creating associations with fitness brands and providing my insights and experience in connecting the brand to the people/user.
A few words of wisdom…
Often people struggle starting their fitness journey as they believe they are too old. For those who believe this I want to shout-out that age has nothing to do with it! Do not entertain these thoughts of failure even before you’ve started. I began competitive runs at 28 years and pursued body building at 32. Age is just a number! You do what you believe in and commit to it without paying heed to your age.