Sport can be in many forms. It varies from running on a track to playing a cricket stroke in the middle of the grounds, to sitting, thinking and playing chess. Physique and fitness play a major role in most types of sport and today, speaks to a local sportsman who is engaging in competitive body-building.

The gymnasium is the go- to place for many people for many reasons. Top of the list is to wear arm-cuts and ray-bans with the hip-hop cap.  For Bhagya Mendis our man of the moment, it was all a different story.  It was not at a turn of a relationship or seeking  to attract the fairer sex; he just didn’t like the shape of his own body.

“I started working-out after my A/L examinations. I was really out of shape, around 84 kg. I had really low-esteem of my-self being out of shape. First I started working out at home and then I joined a gym. After around six months I saw the change in me and I loved it and then it just became a life-style”

5Lifestyle – The way in which a person lives is how the oxford dictionary defines it. He adds the name “Akuma” on to his social media life, inspired by the popular video game “Teken”. Proving that he is actually living it well, then why not transform it into a professional career?

“For many years I have been working with many different gym partners, gyms and I felt that I really had the passion to motivate people to work-out. So I thought why not make it my future career. So I did a certificate level course in strength and conditioning. After I finished it I joined my gym Genesis Fitness Center”.

1It was the low-self-esteem that inspired Mendis to the gym. With him gaining confidence, he went looking for the adrenaline pumping competitions and the loud cheers of an appreciative audience.

“When I kept on working-out for like two years it drastically changed my body. Then I participated in my first competition in 2013. A very small competition but what I liked the most in it, is the feedback I got from the audience. I loved it, the cheer, motivation. It hit my heart if I put it that way to carry on what I am doing”.

Back in the day, he was subjected to jibes by friends around him about his weight. So it`s natural, for him to adulate his transformation and ponder upon it. Without being satisfied by his achievements, he used it as motivation to become better at what he was already doing.

2When you do what`s closer to your heart, obstacles are many, you are never satisfied with mediocre. Frustration starts to kick-in with various dilemmas that may centre around the thing you love. It was no different for Mendis, but he had his own inspiration; his passion.

“Before I joined the gym full-time, I was working an 8-5 job. So I had to come from Colombo to Mount-Lavinia in the train after five and I will come to the gym around six in the evening. Then I work-out till around nine and then by the time I get back home it will be around eleven in the night. I wake up at five in the morning to get to work the next day. So the cycle continued and it was really hard. But if you have the passion you can manage and do anything”.

Coming all this way building his physique with all the hardships, we questioned his future plans.3

“I have a competition that I will be participating this month (28th of January 2017) and then the rest of the year will be focused on my main goal. Mr. Sri Lanka competition that is happening at the end of this year (2017)”.

Mendis spoke further on the financial difficulties that one has to face due to lack of a proper structure in the sport and how it effects the individuals in pursuing a healthy lifestyle and/or sport.2

“Becoming a bodybuilder in Sri Lanka is really tough. It is going to be a really hard journey because there are no sponsorships for body builders in Sri Lanka so it effects the financial status which effects the training since the athlete will have to follow a corporate lifestyle to earn a living”.

Food was a main supplement of the sport of body-building and the method of managing it can be hard work and tremendous sacrifice.

“The diet is going to be very rude to you. When you start practicing for a competition, the final four weeks you can`t eat much of anything. It will be chicken breasts and broccoli. During the final week you can`t even drink water. That’s how much of a sacrifice that needs to be done to become a champion”.

Mendis, now engaging in the sport professionally advised the youngsters on how to be successful in it. He explained how to divide the year and set goals and work towards them. Because building your own body needs a lot of patience that includes staying away from mouth-watering food and favourite drinks and sometimes even a simple every day need, water.

He is in love. Iron has become his lady whom he meets every day. Not just for satisfaction or to be a trendsetter but with a heart to become a champion.

As he sat up from the bench, he did not forget to tell us the most important thing in the sport. “Body building is not about training hard and lifting heavy weights. You have to eat, train and sleep properly.  It`s like a three legged stool. All should go together because that is how you are going to build this body.”