Kashma Maharaj - Bodybuilder Interview

Author: Jonathan.L - owner Models Observer
March 2013

1. Kashma, How did you get started in the bodybuilding world?

I have always been into sport, and was a very athletic and competitive child and teenager. I was involved in gymnastics, martial arts and gymnastics, so working out almost daily was a part of my daily routine. I was not into gym workouts and weight training until I went to college and started gaining some extra pounds. From there my interest in fitness grew and I pursued certification in several areas of fitness, nutrition and exercise. I used a lot of what I learned in my own regime since I believe you should practice what you preach and also because I was doing personal training and group exercise classes, so I experimented to find things that would work best for the people I worked with.

In 2007, I decided to prep for a competition, since I was seeing changes in my body relatively easily, and I wanted to take on the challenge of getting on stage and competing. I wasn't able to compete in 2007 but stepped on stage in 2008 and won my first show. And the rest is history. So there was never really a clear starting point for me, just an evolution from one sport into the next and a gradual progression from aspiring bodybuilder to competitive bodybuilder.

Another thing is that I come from a very active and sport loving family. My dad used to lift weights and was involved in many sporting areas. My mom ran competitively and my uncles, brothers and cousins were all into weight training and bodybuilding. So growing up in that atmosphere developed and appreciation for muscle and athleticism.

2. How did you become so good at presenting yourself onstage? Have you always been so confident with your body and looks?

Anyone who knows me knows I get very nervous before every single show. I always second myself. But when I step on that stage, a different persona emerges. I used to be shy once upon a time. And as a teenager I felt awkward because I was not the typical teenage girl. I wasn't into clothes, fashion, make up, hair and jewelry. In fact I just kinda got lucky when it came to get myself ready to go out. I would say good genetics was on my side. I had clear skin, thick long and curly hair and was supposedly a young hottie. I never saw myself that way, and even now I do not see myself as this Big muscle chick. When I do photo shoots and see pictures of myself, I do not believe it is me.

When it comes to presenting myself on stage, well a lot of practice helps and also the knowledge that all eyes are on me and there will be pics and video that will end up on the internet, drives me to maintain my composure. I also take pointers from great performers like Beyonce and Michael Jackson. I am a perfectionist and a real hands on kind of person, and although I am into bodybuilding, when I am on stage, I am a performer and I want to please the crowd as well as the judges.

I have grown more confident as I have grown older. Before I obsessed on all my physical flaws and was insecure because of them but age has brought wisdom and that ability to be comfortable in my own skin or in my case, in a tiny bikini on a stage in front of hundreds of people.

3. What was your Arnold Classic 2013 experience like?

Kashma Maharaj: It was surreal. It was a victory in so many ways. I was happy with my physique and was able to see improvements from the previous year. I decided to prep myself for this competition, which was a scary undertaking since I have always trained and competed under the watchful eye of my coach back in Trinidad. Then, just getting to Ohio and getting through the check in was another small victory. Winning the Heavy weight category was almost more than I could bear. I was on the verge of dropping to knees in tears of joy...but had to remind myself that this was a bodybuilding competition and not a beauty pageant.

I really wanted to cop the overall title as well but went up against a worthy adversary.

Seeing the same people from the TTBBF who tried to stop me from competing was also sweet, sweet victory since they got a front row seat to seeing me on that stage and winning that title.

It was all in all, amazing. I felt the love of the crowd, the support of fans who travelled there to see me (I still can't believe I have fans), and I got great feedback from some of the IFBB officials, potential sponsors and onlookers.

The weekend was a whirlwind of events since getting off stage was followed by several photo shoots and interviews as well as hearing from a ton of people who wanted to congratulate me.

Walking away with my Arnie was the best feeling I have ever had, but also, making new friends in the sport and just having the privilege of standing on that magnificent stage was a huge accomplishment for me, one I will never forget. The Arnolds got me so fired up that I am extremely excited to train and just get back on stage again.

4. What was it like moving to the U.S. from Trinidad?

Kashma Maharaj: Moving from one country to the next, and starting from scratch without the help of friends and family was also a big move and a daring move. It took months for me to settle in and adjust to life here, and also get past the feeling of being homesick. But it has been just over 1 year and I love my life here in Florida, moving was the best decision I have ever made. I feel more support here from friends, fans and other people in the sport. I have access to great training facilities, gurus in the sport and all the things needed to maintain a bodybuilding lifestyle and compete on a regular basis.

5. Which personality trait best describes you and why?

Kashma Maharaj: Driven, independent, hard working, perfectionist, a bit obsessive compulsive, sarcastic, energetic, brave and strong willed. I am a survivor. I don't let people get to me, I don't let obstacles get in my way, and I am always up for a challenge. I know what I want, how I want it and how I am going to get it. I am very organized, regimented almost. I am goal oriented and competitive. I have faced many tough situations and I believe I always overcome the adversity and come out shining.

6. So, how hard do you train to maintain the masterpiece you've built?

Kashma Maharaj: I train hard. I have worked with several coaches and other athletes and they all say the same thing... I train hard and I lift heavy. Of course the type of training, the time spent in the gym, the number of days spent in the gym, the choice of exercises and the intensity varies depending on whether I am off season or in competition prep. But I train hard all year round. I don't take time off unless I am sick or too tired. Once I walk through those gym doors, It game time. I put in the work and forget about everything else that might be going on.

7. There is an old bodybuilding apothegm that states, "Great abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym". How true is it?

Kashma Maharaj: Very true. You can work abs all day every day, but if you don't eat right then you will have strong abs that are covered by fat. Training just shapes and develops the muscle and makes it stronger and bigger, but the proper diet is what makes it look hard and well separated. You are only in the gym for 90 mins or so, but you have to make the right eating choices all day every day.

8. What does your on-season diet consist of?

Kashma Maharaj: It's very simple. Egg whites, Chicken Breast, Turkey, Salmon and Tilapia as protein sources; Oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice, basmati rice as carbohydrate sources; lots of green leafy vegetable like spinach, cabbage, lettuce, celery, asparagus, melongene, okra, broccoli, green beans, snap peas, sweet peppers and onions. I eat 6 meals each day, having a meal every 3 hrs. I eat more carbohydrates during the day and before I train. The carbohydrate to protein ration changes during the various stages of prep.

9. A new study at The Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus will examine if zero calorie drinks offer the same benefits during weight loss as water and if dieters can replace water with zero-calorie drinks and successfully lose weight. What do you believe the results will be?

Kashma Maharaj: I believe in sticking to the basics. Keep it simple, keep it safe. Water is as clean as it can get when it comes to zero calorie beverages. Other drinks with the artificial coloring, artificial flavoring and whatever else, while it may taste good, can't possibly be good. Call me old fashioned but I prefer the natural things, all those artificial ingredients must be doing something to the liver, kidneys, intestines or brain.

10. Do you always win arm wrestling matches as seen here?

Kashma Maharaj: So far, yes!

11. What is your favorite Trinidadian food?

Kashma Maharaj: Indian food and gyros.

12. How does a typical day look like for you?

Wake up at 6am
45 mins cardio and a very short workout
Tan *this happens closer to competition
Eat every 3 hrs
Cardio *this happens closer to competition
Posing practise *this happens closer to competition
Soak in epsom for 20-30 mins *this happens closer to competition
In bed around 1am

Pretty much the same every day of the week. Competition time is more gruelling. More time spent doing cardio, posing and in the gym. Other than that I spend my free time watching movies, playing with my dogs, going out to eat and working on my garden, or trying to at least :)

13. What are your hobbies and interests outside of the sport?

Kashma Maharaj: Reading, watching movies, listening to music, art, decorating, gardening, watching sporting events, going to the beach, cooking, going out to eat. I love MMA, Xgames, some video games, tennis, gymnastics, track & field and football (USA Soccer)

14. What are your goals for the future?

Short term goals are:
Arnold Amateur Brazil in April 2013
IFBB Judging Seminar in the USVI in June 2013
Visit Barbados to scout locations for a gym in July 2013
Arnold Amateur Europe in October 2013
Enjoy my first Thanksgiving and Christmas in the US and not dieting.....hopefully
End 2013 having earned my pro card
Medium Term Goals
Compete in 2-3 PRO shows annually
Long Term Goals
Own and operate a chain of gym, health food restaurants, spas and sport nutrition stores in the Caribbean
Invest in Commercial real estate and some Caribbean vacation properties
Get more involved in the Carnival industry and have my own band of masqueraders
Get married
Have a family

15. Do you have any final words for your fans and the readers?

Kashma Maharaj: Thank you for the support, the kind words, the prayers and the encouragement. At the end of the day, this sport is about the fans. As a bodybuilder, we get on stage once, twice maybe three times a year and stand in front of a panel of people who tell us how good we are and are not, on that day, but the fans are there every day, competition time and off season and they always share their love and admiration and they often help to brighten up my day and give me a lil boost to keep going. I appreciate each and every one of you and want to ask you to keep on showing your support for bodybuilding.

To the readers, thank you for reading. It blows me away that people want to know this stuff about me. I am just a simple island girl from the Trinidad and I am out here doing my thing.

Stay strong, stay positive and don't let anyone tell you you cannot achieve what you set your heart on. We were all created as great individuals and we were created perfectly. Train hard everyone!!

To find out more about Kashma:
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Kashma Maharaj

Kashma Maharaj