Tuesday, March 8, 2022

World's first Pakistani Muslim female bodybuilder Gule Sheikh defies hard-liners to flex her muscles in bikini competition :

World's first Pakistani Muslim female bodybuilder Gule Sheikh defies hard-liners to flex her muscles in bikini competition
Female bodybuilder Gule Sheikh is the picture of female fitness – beautiful, toned, hard and seemingly always smiling.

But the 36-year-old female bodybuilder, who took to pumping iron to help lift herself out of a physical and emotional rut, says she initial faced opposition from the Islamic community.

Gule, who describes herself as 'the first Pakistani Fitness Model to take home first place titles as Fitness Model and Bikini Model' said: “Initially there was some resistance from within the community and community members, but my parents see nothing wrong in it.

“When I am in bikini, they can see how hard I am working every single day with diet and the training. They see it as a form of art. For them it’s a healthy lifestyle.”

The Punjabi Muslim, who lives in Toronto, is now a certified personal trainer and fitness competitor who runs her own bootcamp.

But she was far from a natural born athlete.

In fact she only turned to female bodybuilding in 2006 after a lifestyle-related asthma attack left her fighting for her life in an intensive care ward.

She said:  “I was never one of those athletic kids who played in sports or participated on the varsity leagues, to be honest, I sucked.

“This is why I never took part in any sport league or heavy duty physical exercise. Instead, I chose the road most often taken and succumbed to my fear of embarrassment and lack of self belief.

“This led me to become the average kid, filling my spare time with part-time jobs and hanging with friends. In my 20’s I consumed myself in my career and spent every ounce of energy in my profession.

“At the age of 30 I hit rock bottom with my weight, gaining 25 pounds, and I didn’t look or feel good about myself!

“I ended up having an asthma attack which landed me in the hospital, connected to an oxygen tank, clinging to dear life.

“There I was in a hospital room knowing the unhealthy lifestyle I lived had accumulated over the years, which was responsible for this near-fatal incident. Right then and there I vowed I will not be this vulnerable and helpless again.”

And the amazing physique Gule Sheikh displays on stage today is living proof of just how seriously she took that vow.

Just three years after lifting her first dumb-bell she took to the stage of the nationwide 2009 Ultimate Fitness Event.

And by 2011 she had triumphed with glittering wins in the Ontario Physique Association (Master Bikini) and 2011 International Drug Free Athletics’ (IDFA) Fitness Model event.

She said: “What I am today is because of my strong commitment. I am always determined to improve myself and wanted to get even better and better.

“I love doing this… exercising, bodybuilding, eating healthy and taking care of myself has become my passion. I feel so good and proud of myself.”

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