Annu Doley Marbaniang, 40, is an IFBB bikini athlete and an internationally certified trainer specialising in strength training, RPM, Spinning, Cycling, TRX STC, Triggerpoint, Zuu, Foam Roller, and ViPR. She also runs a fitness studio in Gurugram where she helps others achieve their fitness goals with the help of customised workout programs.
Mother to a 17-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, Annu’s day starts at 5:30am with her fasted cardio session, which, she strongly believes, is a great way to kickstart the day to get the body metabolism revved up for the rest of the day. “After a quick cup of coffee and some stretches, I head out for my one hour of cardio – it can be a run, a brisk walk, or a cycling session, depending on my mood and energy levels,” she says. Excerpts from an interview:
How did you enter the world of fitness? What/ who inspired you?
As a child, I was always inclined towards sports and actively played badminton and basketball. But, after getting married in 2001, I found it difficult to continue. Soon, when I became a mother I gained a lot of weight due to which I faced body image issues and my self-esteem went for a toss. My fluctuating confidence persuaded me to join a gym and work on my physical strength. This is when my love for fitness truly blossomed. Being a mother, managing time seemed like a huge task initially but with time and with my family’s support, I could conquer all hardships as they only made me more determined and provided me with a sense of encouragement to keep doing better.
You are a certified trainer specialising in a host strength training modules… Where did you train from?
Since I started training very early on, I learnt most of the skills while working on my fitness. Without realising much of how mastering these techniques could help me in the future, I kept perfecting my skills. Later on, when I decided to turn my passion into a full-time career, I underwent formal training from Professional Fitness Dubai and Lessmills under international master trainers, in various fitness disciplines like RPM, Spinning, Zuu, ViPR.
Tell us all about your achievements so far.
I first won a title – that of Miss Assam – in 1995, and I have not stopped ever since. I won the prestigious title of North-East Super Model in 1999 after winning Miss Assam, and ten years later I made it to the finals of the Gladrags Mrs India pageant.
My career as a bikini athlete took off after I got married in 2001. I got my bg break in 2017, when I bagged the top honours in the Muscle Mania Bikini Bodybuilding competition and came second in the Bodypower PCA competition.
I came in second at the YMCA 2017 competition and at the WBFF 2018 Bikini Diva in London. The following year, I also finished second runner-up in the prestigious WBFF European Pro Diva Fitness Model Competition held in London. I was placed in the top five of the 2019 NPC Worldwide Shawn Classic IFBB Pro League, Bikini Diva in Vietnam, and 2019 NPC Worldwide Shawn Classic IFBB Pro League in the Philippines (Bikini Diva) as the second runner-up. I also won the ET NOW Women Leadership Award in 2019 and the Woman Super Achiever Award at the 7th World Women Leadership Congress in 2020.
Which accomplishment of your makes you special?
Even though I treasure each accomplishment of mine, I’m especially super proud of coming in second place at the WBFF Bikini Diva competition in London, as it gave me the platform to represent my nation on an international level.
Is it tough to maintain body fitness after a certain age?
Maintaining good health and fitness is certainly achievable at any age, provided you are disciplined and determined. While it is true that aging can bring certain health challenges, regular exercise and healthy habits can help mitigate many of these issues. While it may require some effort and discipline to establish healthy habits, the benefits are well worth it. By prioritizing exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep, individuals of any age can maintain good health and fitness levels, and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Tell us about your fitness studio in Gurugram?
As a fitness trainer, my journey towards owning a gym started with my own personal fitness journey. I had always been passionate about fitness, but it wasn’t until I started focusing on my own health and wellness that I truly discovered my love for helping others achieve their fitness goals. As I began to see the positive changes in my own body and mindset, I became more motivated to help others achieve the same results. I started to see the impact that my coaching was having on my clients, and it became clear to me that I wanted to create a space where people could come together to pursue their fitness goals and feel empowered and supported in the process. I have been running my own coaching class for the past 12 years, which has over 50 members today. After all the years of hard work. I am proud to own a fitness studio, which is situated in Gurugram. My fitness studio’s philosophy is based on the idea that when we put our own health and wellness first, we can impart a positive change in the world. And I’m appreciative of the chance to contribute to that change through my gym and the individuals who make it such a special place each and every day.
Isn’t running a fitness studio still considered a male bastian…
I firmly believe that fitness is not gender related. At my studio, I see people of all ages and genders working towards their fitness goals, and everyone can achieve great things when it comes to health and wellness. Unfortunately, there is still a pervasive stereotype that fitness is a male-dominated field, and that owning a gym is something that only men can do. But the truth is, there are countless women-owned gyms and fitness studios around the world, and the fitness industry is becoming more diverse and inclusive with each passing day.
At my studio, we strive to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for people of all genders and backgrounds. We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to prioritize their health and wellness, and we are committed to helping our clients achieve their fitness goals in a supportive and non-judgmental atmosphere.
What tips would you give to moms who want to take up the fitness journey?
Never allow your physical or social limitations come in the way of your dreams. You should have faith in yourself and not give all the negativity much consideration because with enough grit and dedication, you can accomplish everything you set your mind to.
Struggles came to me in many forms, but I never looked back, even at this age I still possess a strong thirst for victory and do not intend to stop. Whatever you choose to accomplish, you should put your all into it. There is no substitute to hard work, which is something I emphasise the most.
What are your other interests?
One of my main interests is fashion. I have always been fascinated by the world of fashion and design. I love exploring new trends and styles. I am also a fan of outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling. And of course, I love to travel! Whether it’s exploring a new city or venturing out to the great outdoors, I believe travelling is a fantastic way to broaden your horizons and learn more about the world around you.
Story edited by Upasana Kaura