‘Power Woman’ of Kashmir

Irfan Tramboo
Rendering the age-old taboo to a thousand pieces, 27 year old Saima Ubayd from Srinagar has become the first woman from Kashmir to have tried her skillset in powerlifting and securing a gold medal while taking along her grit and commitment as lifelong companions.
The challenging journey which witnessed its pinnacle, so far as emerging as a lone female powerlifter in Kashmir, basically started with Saima’s problem of gaining excessive weight which then led her to a fitness centre several years ago.
But it did not help despite trying everything, not until her fiancee-Ubayd Hafiz who himself is a fitness trainer and a powerlifter-made an entry into her life and started illuminating her way of achieving the perfection apart from shaping her body outline.
He not only helped Saima lose her excess weight, but also made her go an extra mile. It was as if he was destined to play both the decisive roles in her life: the role of being a fitness trainer as well as a loving husband.
There was a time when Saima-who loves to add the name of her husband at the end of hers-was growing hopeless about having kids after marriage. It was when she was not engaged to Ubayd and had almost given up on conceiving someday.
Even the doctors she had consulted told her that she would never be able to have a kid given the reason that she was overweight due to which she had developed multiple issues. She was turning hopeless with every tablet she gulped down to cure her illness, but things did not change.
Not until she got engaged to Ubayd Hafiz in the year 2017. As she came in contact with her future husband, he started giving her diet charts and plans to be followed religiously. Saima obediently acted upon his advice and began to work out all over again. To her utter surprise, this time, it had started to make difference.
“Until then, it was all useless; he came in my life and the matter of the fact being that he was himself a fitness trainer, I narrated the situation to him and in reply, he told me that everything will work out just adhere to the diet charts, and it did, I lost 5kgs of my weight in the first month,” she told Excelsior.
In days, months and years that followed, there was no looking back for Saima, not until December last year when she stood face to face to the male powerlifters and secured her well-deserved position. By then, she had started feeling a change in her all-over physique and that, in turn, had a positive change on her behaviour. “I had become strong, inside-out,” she said.
On December 27, 2020, in ‘4th Kashmir Powerlifting, Benchpress & Deadlift Championship for Men & Women’, Saima secured a gold medal by lifting a weight of 255kgs which is so far unheard of.
The competition was organized by ‘Kashmir Powerlifting Association’ (KPA) under the banner of ‘All J&K Powerlifting Association.’ In achieving this, Saima said that her husband played a vital role including her in-laws. “These people in my life have always been supportive, particularly my husband, if he would not have been there, it would not have been possible for me,” she said.
In 2018, when Saima was 25 years old, she got married to Ubayd. She still was haunted by the diagnosis of the doctors that she would never be able to conceive, but she did not know that it has all changed. She was perhaps unaware of the fact that while there has been a change in her built-up, there also has been a considerable change within her.
“My husband kept telling me that everything is going to be perfect, he is and was my go-to person. He gave me hope and the results were astounding,” she said
To her utter joy, she had conceived despite what doctors told her, and later had a baby girl named Aizah who is 15 months old now.
Saima, originally from Indira Nagar got married to Ubayd and both of them currently live in Dalgate. She has done her Bachelors in Home Science from Govt College for Women, Srinagar. She, however, after marriage, could not continue her studies because of several responsibilities that ultimately came onto her.
Despite responsibilities, she has been religiously following her workout and other related exercises which have led her to become the only female powerlifter of Kashmir.
“I could feel a strange energy in me while I worked on myself and this has been a journey that took me to the powerlifting with the support and cooperation of my husband,” she said.
After her delivery, she developed spinal complications after which doctors told her to avoid working out and other related activities as per her routine, however, did not budge and carried on with her pursuit of fitness with the support of her husband.
Today, they both are helping people achieve their desired goals out of a workout and are making them reap the fruits of their toil day in a day out.
For Saima, she has been trained by her husband to train the females that are thronging the fitness centres. “Having a good trainer is a must and if you do not have one then the efforts are not going to pay you much. My husband while training me told me that whatever I am teaching you, teach that to my other sisters as well as there are some female trainers out there lack knowledge,” she said.
Supporting pillars
Saima gives a thumb rule to the husbands out there and tells them that they should treat their wives as best friends and should provide them with a sense of support.
“If your wife has a talent, help her in achieving her goals. She is your best friend. Do not be a hurdle rather be supportive. Get her into the gym so that she can remain fit and healthy as she also deserves to feel energetic and healthy,” she said.
She believes that there is no difference between a boy and a girl and that the parents should do away with such an approach and should let them do whatever they want.
“There is no difference between a boy and a girl. Girls have proven that they are talented and have proven their mettle in every field. Parents should encourage them and should let them remain fit,” Saima said.
As of now, she is working as a trainer and is training female folks at one of a fitness centres in Srinagar which she intends to carry on and about the powerlifting, she says that she has been given a platform and she is intending to excel in times to come.
For Saima, nothing is impossible if one remains steadfast and aims at achieving set goals, and that is the advice she offers to the younger generation.