SURREY — We all have our passions. Bindi Bains just takes hers further than most.
At 46 years of age, a time of life when many of us are throttling back and spending a bit more time in the easy chair, the North Delta bodybuilder continues to push boundaries.
Not satisfied with the first-place trophies she earned at the Canadian Bodybuilding Federation nationals in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016, not to mention a boatload of other titles and awards along the way, Bains looks keenly toward the 2017 CBBF nationals, to be held in Surrey next July.
In the meantime, she trains 90 minutes a day, six days a week. Those numbers will increase, of course, as the 2017 competition dates grow ever nearer. And then there’s the diet. Bains eats lean and mean all the time, adding a personal concoction of supplements to top it off.
And when she’s not training her own body, she’s training others.
Bains currently runs one-on-one personal and team training sessions and hardcore boot camps at Flex Fitness, in Surrey near the corner of Scott Road and 72nd Avenue.
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In short, just about everything in Bains’ life – aside from her two boys and husband Chris – is focused on, and revolves around, the art of building a better body.
Surely, given this level of infatuation/obsession, Bains has been at it practically from birth.
Well, not quite.
Turns out she was overweight as a teenager. And not just a couple of extra pounds – a whole bunch of extra pounds. She recognized the issue and trimmed back as she grew into a young adult, but it all came flooding back again when she had her first son at the age of 31.
And that’s when everything changed.
“Six months later,” she said, “I saw a video of myself and said, ‘Holy cow, who am I?’ So I hit the gym and in a few weeks started to see how my abs were coming out. I thought, ‘Wow this is crazy,’ and I got even more motivated. When you can actually see the difference, you get motivated.”
The fitness regime had begun in earnest. And when real muscle began to appear, she only increased her dedication.
Bains admits genetics plays a role, for sure.
“Not everyone will get a protruding six-pack,” she noted. “Shoulders might not get that bulge. A taller person, for example, has a harder time with legs.”
But Bains wasn’t naturally predisposed to be a runner or cyclist. Muscle was her calling, and she knew it.
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Four years later, Bains and husband Chris, also a bodybuilder, though far less intense, opened their own gym.
“After I saw these changes in my own body, I wanted to help women with children get fit. Then I became seriously interested in bodybuilding. In 2006, I did my first show. I came away with four trophies.”
And the rest, as they say, is history. Bains is now one of the most accomplished bodybuilders in Canada, in any age group.
“It takes a toll on my family,” she admitted. “Doing this and being single is one thing, but being married with children and having a full-time job, you can times that by 10.
“My husband isn’t crazy about it, but he puts up with it,” she added. “I’m not the same social person. I try to fit in as best as I can, even though I’m not eating and drinking. In the middle of watching a movie, I have to get up and do cardio.”
And it’s not just the non-stop training. When Bains preps for a show, she eats six meals a day – half of them chicken-based, the other half fish. It gets expensive. She estimates total costs for a show, including outfits, can run anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000.
She experiences a metamorphosis during the months prior to each new event.
“For the competition ‘look’ (muscularity, angularity, protruding veins, etc.), generally the strict diet starts 16 weeks out. It’s a real science, and it’s miraculous how a body changes.
“Even one week out, your body isn’t the way it is on the day of the show. You even cut down on water. Dehydration can lose five pounds. Your skin can literally separate. I get to 10 to 12 per cent body fat at competition time. That’s lean for a woman.”
Bains laughed, and continued.
“It’s not my husband’s favourite look,” she said. “I’m like a dried-up prune. Some things lose their shape. And I look at myself sometimes and think, ‘What a freak show.’ All dark, muscles hanging out. I just wanna come home and eat a brownie.”
Bains, an Indo-Canadian, also openly discusses the cultural thing. Happily, it’s been an upbeat experience.
“A 35-year-old South Asian woman going on stage in a bikini that barely covers anything,” she started. “But surprisingly, it’s been very positive within the community. So many people refer to me as a pioneer, one of the first Indo-Canadians to have success in bodybuilding. They don’t see so much the bodybuilder on stage in a bikini as much as someone who represents fitness within the Indian community.
“And now, there are many more Indo-Canadian girls doing it. The majority of my clients are Indo-Canadian. I do many of my sessions in Punjabi from beginning to end. And I do two TV shows – mostly fitness tips, where I bring on guests from the Indo-Canadian community.”
Bains recently co-founded an organization called the Sahaara Mental Health Society, and its goal is to help eradicate the stigma of mental illness within the South Asian community. The impetus comes from her own personal affliction.
“I have OCD. With me, OCD is linked to a physical tic. Involuntarily, training helps me. On stage I’m somehow able to control it. Backstage it comes out.
“So I came out with my story on OCD. My mom had it, and I was in denial when I got the symptoms. Sometimes a one-hour workout can take two hours because I have to do things over if I feel I didn’t do it right.”
The inaugural Sahaara Society fundraiser, held in May, generated $25,000 in donations after costs, according to Bains, and a large chunk of it went to the Child Adolescent Psychiatric Stabilization Unit (CAPSU) at Surrey Memorial Hospital. The rest will be divided between Surrey and North Delta high school scholarships and mental-health program funding.