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Deepika Chowdhury: From Biologist To India's 1st Female Figure Athlete

Deepika Chowdhury was a molecular biologist before pursuing professional bodybuilding full-time. She is India's first female figure athlete and has competed on many international stages.

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Tanya Savkoor
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@deepikapune_ifbbpro Instagram

Until 2012, Deepika Chowdhury's life as a molecular biologist revolved around the laboratory or her home. Knowing her childhood love for athletics, she decided to join a gym and work on her health. What started as a simple pursuit of fitness blossomed into a passionate dedication to bodybuilding. Soon, she became the first Indian woman professional figure athlete and began competing on various international stages. Chowdhury's hunger for fitness and athletic spirit are a true inspiration to women everywhere.

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In an Instagram story, Chowdhury once described how she got into fitness and what kept her motivated. She wrote, "I witnessed my mother go through volatile domestic violence. I never wanted to be so 'weak' and lifting helped me believe that I am not weak... Fitness made me feel that I am not ignored or neglected."

Who Is Deepika Chowdhury?

Originally from Pune, Maharashtra, Chowdhury grew up loving sports and participated in many track and field events in her school days. Apart from this, she also excelled academically and went on to pursue a Master's degree in microbiology from MES Abasahed Garware College, Savitri Bai Phule Pune University. 

Chowdhury was working as a technical officer at the National Institute of Virology, Indian Council of Medical Research. In 2012, she started her fitness journey, initially basic training under the guidance of a coach. However, she soon realised her love for sculpting her body and was intrigued by bodybuilding.

Witnessing her growing interest, Chowdhury's trainer pushed her to take up a sports nutrition course from K11 Academy in Pune. It was there that she was exposed to the world of professional bodybuilding and figure competitions. She found out about the SHERU Classic, India's only professional bodybuilding contest.

Chowdhury travelled to Delhi to attend the competition and met some of her idols and mentors who had come from different parts of the world. One of these was Shannon Dey from the United States, who inspired Chowdhury to build a physique like her and become a figure athlete. Since then, there has been no looking back.

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Shannon Dey and Deepika Chowdhury, 2013 | Image: The Health Site

In her debut performance, Deepika Chowdhury won the 'figure' category at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale Cup, in Florida, USA. This set the tone for the rest of her glorious career in the sport. In 2016, she became the first Indian woman to earn a Pro status from the International Fitness and Bodybuilding Federation.

By 2017, Chowdhury began participating in acclaimed competitions like the Arnold Classic. She later moved to Florida, USA, and started training with Bombshell Fitness, a venture started by her role model Shannon Dey. While professional bodybuilding can require a lot of money, Chowdhury lacked sufficient sponsors. Yet, her determination pushed her to great heights.

Chowdhury has garnered a large following on social media where she displays her fitness journey and shares tidbits of her life. In one post she wrote, "Strong doesn't just mean lifting heavy weights in the gym but to be able to do basic things by yourself. Your gym work just makes those things easier outside of the gym perimeter."

Chowdhury's journey from a scientist to a professional bodybuilder proves her sheer passion and unwavering dedication to the sport. She not only inspires women to chase their dreams but also motivates them to prioritise their fitness and health. On her social media too, one can find Chowdhury fostering this message.

Deepika Chowdhury professional bodybuilder figure athlete
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