Nithya Suresh - Photographer, Powerlifter

Hi! I’m Nithya Suresh. I’m a photographer based out of Bangalore. I’m also a competing Powerlifter.

Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a Malayali who was born and brought up in Bombay, and I used to work as an HR till a few years back and then I quit to take up photography as a full time career. It's just been about 4 years that I realized that I have another passion as well, that is, strength training or powerlifting. So now I juggle between both, that is, photography as well as powerlifting. 

When and how did your fitness journey begin?
I was an athlete back in school, but after I passed out of school I never really took part in sports activities. Only in my late 20s, I randomly went to the gym with my boyfriend, who is now my husband, just so that we could spend some time together. Even though it was for that reason, I quite liked the process of strength training and working out, it made me feel really nice, so I kept going. Here I am, and that has to be the starting of my fitness journey.

When did you begin your fitness journey?
I used to go to the gym with my boyfriend and he had a gym buddy, who was a boy. They used to workout together and I used to always work out with smaller weights, and I was always inquisitive to workout and see what they’re doing. They were always working out with these big weights. So once, me being a beginner, I went and asked them “Can I work out with these weights?” and they were like, “No, this is too heavy for you. You can’t do this.” That is when I took it up as a challenge and said “Okay, I want to try it.” and I actually ended up doing 10 reps of the weight that they failed at. So that was quite an eye opener for me as well, for all of us, in fact that I am actually strong, or stronger than what I seem. And then, a trainer at the gym spotted me randomly and said, ‘Hey! You’re pretty strong. You should try out powerlifting”. At that point, I didn't know what powerlifting is or what weightlifting is. So, I researched about it and coincidentally there was a competition lined up that year. I gathered all the courage I had, and made an attempt.

How has training helped your mental health?
When I first started going to the gym, it was the time when I had just quit my job, I moved to a new city. I had no friends, I had no social life. I was always living in self doubt as to whether I took the right decision of quitting my job, you know, moving to a new city. It was, I would say, a bad phase in my life. Getting into fitness actually helped me to get out of that, it gave me something stable in life to look forward to, I enjoyed the process of getting strong. As and when I got strong physically, I would say, it made me strong mentally as well, I started feeling good about my body, I started feeling more energetic, I had something to look forward to in the day. So, that gave me a purpose I would say.

What, in your opinion, are the biggest misconceptions in regard to strength training today?
People still think that if women do strength training, or lift a lot of heavy weights, they become like a man. They lose all their feminine features. That’s not really true.

When did you decide to start competing? How did it feel to compete in your first event?
I started competing in 2021. My first competition experience was very scary when I reached the venue. I was so intimidated. I felt so out of place. But after the competition, I felt on top of the world, I was so happy, I was actually wondering “ Why didn't I do this before?”

What has been the  best moment in your powerlifting career?
This happened in a competition, I reached the venue with a lot of expectations of getting the first prize, but, somehow, I was not in my best shape and after two attempts, I reached the 15th position. I was feeling the lowest, but just before my third attempt, I thought to myself, “I need to give it my all” and I did and somehow I managed to get a third position. That has to be the best moment of my powerlifting career. 

Apart from a powerlifter, you’re also a photographer. Tell us about it? What do you do when you’re not shooting or training?
I quit my full-time job to pursue photography, because it’s my passion. I’m a kid’s photographer as well as a pet’s photographer. I really like it. When I’m not shooting or training…I recently found out that I like to cook. I like to experiment with a lot of healthy recipes, and when I’m not doing that, I have a dog and two cats. They keep me busy all the time

Who is your biggest Inspiration?
My biggest inspiration has to be little Nithya. She used to be so motivated taking part in sports activities. She used to be so happy. So, I’d like to find the child in me, and I’m so inspired to be her.

Powerlifting and strength training for women is still in a nascent stage in our country. What advice would you like to give to those who want to explore this?
Identifying a sport gives you a lot of motivation and happiness in life. If you like strength training, I would say, just try powerlifting. It's a sport that you can pursue through any stage of your life.

How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is quite laid back and comfortable, I don't do a lot of experimentation. I’m not somebody who actively follows trends. I use and reuse everything that I own. So, bottom line, comfort plays a very important factor.

How do you resonate with Teejh?
First and foremost, it's a female run business, I support that. Secondly, their collection is very versatile . I’m somebody who reuses everything that I own so I find pieces, something that can be used with a lot of my outfits. So, I quite like it.

What does the future look like for Nithya?
I’m getting certified as a fitness trainer so through that,  I want more women to experience what I’m experiencing. I was at my lowest when I figured out fitness is helping me mentally. I want the women I’m training to experience that as well. Secondly I want to break a lot of stereotypes in the fitness space, where people say if you’re too small you’re not too strong or if you’re too fat you’re not too fit. I want to break all of that and that’s the change I’d like to create.

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