Transcending barriers and breaking stereotypes, Dr Maya Rathod took the extra effort to pursue her passion for attaining a well-sculpted brawny figure. Today, this gynaecologist has achieved her dream and is a medal-winning bodybuilder
– Deepika Jayaram
Maya Rathod can leave anyone in awe, as she is an unlikely combination. It is often rare to find people like her – a gynaecologist and a bodybuilding champion. She lifts heavy equipment in the gym with the same ease with which cuts the umbilical cord to bring babies to the world. Dr Maya tells us how she happened to tread on these equally diverse and demanding paths. “Being a doctor is my profession and bodybuilding has been my passion. I have always wanted to be an athlete but I couldn’t get that support required to be in this field. My family has had an inclination towards the medical field as almost everyone has a medical background,” she says.
Asked why she chose to become a gynaecologist, Maya says it is because of the surreal feeling that bringing a baby into the world provides. “It is a great feeling to introduce them to the new world. That said, it is only after getting settled in my profession and on the domestic front with two kids that I finally decided to give time to my passion. And surprisingly, here I am today.”
Maya walks down memory lane to narrate how she ventured into her dreams of becoming a bodybuilder. She says there is no right time for one to pursue their passion. As her profession and household responsibilities kept her preoccupied, something inside her always indicated that it felt incomplete without trying her hand at what she always wanted to. “I felt that we should find time for our happiness. I started going to the gym regularly. While I was training, my coach identified that spark in me and suggested me to take this sport seriously. It was never pre-planned that one day, I will compete in national level championships. I competed and won medals in two competitions, and it was a dream-come-true-moment for me. The medals I have won are my rewards and my motivation to march further ahead in this journey.”
She says being committed to bodybuilding stays true to the saying, ‘Try and try until you succeed.’ According to the doctor, the journey has indeed been challenging, but she enjoys every bit of it. And, one is not allowed to give up at any point of time if a well-sculpted body is to be attained. She adds, “Building up an aesthetic endeavour takes a lot of effort. You need to have that patience and determination. The transformation isn’t achieved overnight, and it takes years and years of effort to reach here.”
Being involved in bodybuilding for eight years, Maya says that she is still on a pursuit to reach her true potential. “When it becomes part of your lifestyle, and if you really enjoy doing this, you won’t feel that this is daunting at any point.”
She goes on to say what makes up her daily diet: “It usually consists of high protein, moderate carbs and low fat, fibre and plenty of fluids. It also includes chicken, eggs, cottage cheese, vegetables, nuts, etc. I routinely have six meals a day at three to four hour intervals.”
For Dr Maya, the memorable moment for her as a bodybuilder was when she emerged winner and a silver medallist in women’s bodybuilding championship 2020 in the state level in India. “I cannot forget that moment ever in my life. Entering the world of bodybuilding at the professional level marked a big milestone in my life. Being a gynaecologist and having two kids, taking out time for my passion was really a challenge. Given that I was participating in the competition for the first time, winning two silver medals consecutively was the biggest reward I got for my efforts,” she quips.
There was a big team of experts working behind each progress she made, all thanks to Subodh Menon, Vipin Peter, Shyam Rahate, Manoj More, along with Shrikant Dulam and Sai Nair. “Each one of them played a specific role in my journey as a bodybuilder. I owe my medals to them as they motivated me at every stage to reach here. I would have never dreamt of participating in any competition if this team wouldn’t have supported me. I thank them for keeping faith in me and allowing me to compete through their association.”
Dr Maya’s achievements would definitely instil confidence in women to transcend boundaries. She goes on to list her achievements. “I participated in Mumbai Shree 2020, Women’s Bodybuilding championship, India, and won a silver medal followed by the state-level competition Maharashtra Shree 2020, Women’s Bodybuilding championship, India, where I won silver again. Right now, I am preparing for the international stage.”
Hailing from Mumbai, Dr Maya is currently living with her family in Sydney, Australia. “On the professional front, I am doing research in In Vitro Fertilisation and pursuing an international course from Australian Fitness Academy to equip myself with more skills in bodybuilding. My husband is an Orthopaedic Surgeon who is doing super specialisation in joint replacement and sports medicine. I have two kids, who are studying. My father was a managing director of Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagri, Mumbai (Filmcity). I also owe my success to my dad, Vithal Rathod.” she says. So, what does the busy doctor, mother, wife and bodybuilder do when she is not involved in any of these tasks? And, she says she loves to dance, watch movies, cook and spending quality time with her kids. However, she finds it difficult to spend enough time for that.
Mays adds that rather than having someone to look up to, she finds herself as her own competitor. “I always aim to become better and better with each day. I am just enjoying my passion and going with the flow.”
As for those aspiring bodybuilders, one should never lose hope, as nothing is impossible. “Never conclude your failures are the end of life. Stay disciplined, be confident and keep a positive attitude. There is never a straight path to success. Be prepared to deal with the hurdles on your way. Enjoy the process, and always remember, things are not going to happen overnight.”
Dr Maya signs off by saying that her dreams just don’t stop with this and there are still miles to go. “I want to be a successful obstetrician, gynaecologist and athlete to represent India one day on international platforms. I want to be an inspiration to all women irrespective of age. In India, I have seen women getting so much involved in their family life after marriage that they ignore their health. I want to prove to all of them that if we decide we can follow our passion and eventually our happiness. I believe that’s what makes a good life.”