Climbing up the ladder of success while fighting every challenge on each level is a tiring task. Sometimes, the intensity and complacency of the task make it harder for people to even try. However, here’s the story of Yatinder Singh, an athlete, entrepreneur, and YouTuber who has many records up his sleeve. He won the silver medal in the 7th World Body Building and Physique Championship 2015. Someone who has mastered the art of fitness and helps people get on the right track. Today, we spoke with him about all that he is interested in and what motivates him to do what he does.

Q. You have been into multiple professions. What was your journey here? Tell us how you started.

Ans. The journey happened eventually. I didn’t want to become a professional athlete, but I just wanted to prove to my family that I can do better. I wanted to prove who I am, just like the many Olympic athletes who are in Tokyo currently. Most of these players do not even have basic facilities to train and prepare, but they create history. My story is also similar. I am from Saharanpur, a very small town, actually, it was not even a town long back. There people had only one motto, you study, do a government job, and get secured in life. But, my journey had to be different, as my struggles were too.
The problem with me was, I had a lot of inferiority complex. Here, we judge people with their physique and looks. And, I had a dark complexion. I was judged and discriminated against because of that. That made me think, I am different from others and I need a fair complexion to be accepted. I was 13 when people used to use colorist slurs, call me by names.
It is everywhere, that made me an introvert and underconfident. But, then I thought, I should do something, and go to a gym. I had a senior who helped me with this. I started slow, I thought of trying it for a few days. So, after I tried for 15 days, the interest kept multiplying. All I could only focus on was going back to the gym again.
Later, my coach motivated me to participate in a body-building competition. At that time, bodybuilding meant beating up people, but I did it anyway and convinced my parents. So, that is when my journey started. In 2001, I won my first competition Mr. Saharanpur. The jury said I had something that genetically elevates my body. Then, I made up my mind that I will have to pursue this, but I can’t do it at home. You can’t be dependent on someone to maintain this, so then I started looking for a job. Then, you can work as a trainer only. So, I joined a gym as a trainer. Now, my primary aim is to create awareness and fitness education.
Yatinder is a man of many skills and has a lot on his plate, but when we ask him how he manages to do well, he reassures it’s all in the mind.

Q. How is it to juggle between different career options? Don’t you get overwhelmed at times?

A lot of times, there is self-doubt. What if I fail? But, all I wanted was to win and trained my brain that way. In my early days, there was a poster of a bodybuilder outside the gym. Whenever I entered the gym, I used to always watch that poster. So, I asked my trainer, ‘Maybe, ham uska naam nahi jaante, but poster gym me lagate hai. Mera ye sawaal hai, ki mere khud ki photo lage, and log use dekhenge and inspire honge na’.
So, he said, we will have to go international, and I thought, why not! After all of those doubts, I did what I wanted to do. I did what my heart said. And, I’m happy, at least I can inspire the youth of the country.

Q. You represented the country internationally, how is that feeling? Can you explain that moment of winning? What is the pressure when you are preparing for something international?

Ans. That feeling is unique. You cannot put it into words for others to understand. The reason is, the medal is yours, your country’s. When you hold that flag and the national anthem plays, the feeling is like living life at that single moment. And, I am sure this is for all the athletes of the world. All the struggles that the athlete had to go through paid off finally, at that one moment. But, one can feel that, only when they are in the place of that athlete.
It’s a very proud feeling. Athletes think of only this and nothing else. When I won the Asia championship and came down from the stage, everyone was crying. My wife, my brother, friends all welled up. They said they couldn’t tell how it feels when someone who you know wins for the country.
As for the pressure, yes, that’s unavoidable. But, you know how to handle that pressure as an athlete. Representing the country in itself is a milestone, the result does not matter as such. And, people are prone to criticize, ‘Kuch to log kahenge’.

Q. In your journey, you have been criticized and shamed for your dark complexion. How did you deal with it? Changing the negativity to positivity is a difficult task. How did you process this and made it here?

Once I was doing a photoshoot with the brand, so a lady walked up to me and said, ‘You have a very photogenic face.’ I thanked her. Later I got to know, she was the casting authority of the brand. That made me think if she is right or those who made fun of me 15 years ago. I was confused.
But, now, I know the complexion and appearance are things you make up in your head. I focused on my work. The thing is you’ll have to prove to yourself, that you are the best. I should have told myself I am the best long back. If I would have appreciated myself, people would have too. To all the young people out there, value yourselves, and the world will.
For dealing with the negativity that comes my way, I meditate. Everyone should do some amount of meditation.

Q. Bodybuilding journey is a journey of high self-discipline and decorum. How hard was that? What would you tell people who start out today?

Ans. Firstly, you should wake up and sleep early. This gives you a lot of time to work during the day. I wake up at 5, and I have enough time to plan my day. If you want to make your dream come true, you need to wake up earlier than the world and sleep earlier than the world.
The main part is you should manage the time your way. You should not let time manage you. Make your plans, whatever it is, be it bodybuilding or anything else.
However, specifically, bodybuilding requires a lot of discipline. You should do three hours of workout, have set meals, and spend time on yourself. And, that is a challenge in itself.

Q. You were injured and had to stay away from bodybuilding for 3 years. How did you deal with that period? What were the learnings you had from that?

Ans. I was injured in 2007 due to exercising heavily and I had a spine injury. I was in a wheelchair for 18 months. People did say my career was over, but I never took them personally. I always believed, whatever time it takes, I will come back. I knew there is a supernatural power that runs the world above science. You can call it god or spirit, or anything. But, you need to believe in it. I believe that’s what sets our purpose.
So, I told myself, if they made me bodybuilding, they will help me come back. If I’ve come this far, then I’ll go miles from here. You are never paralysed in the mind, train your mind the right way and you always bounce back.

Q. Tell us about your journey to Mr. World. How is the preparation different for that?

Ans. The thing is, working out for personal health, and working out for competitions are very different. It takes 12-16 weeks to prepare for a competition. But, you will have to work on yourself every minute. From therapy, massages, to the recovery period, spend time on yourself. When you start the preparations, you should set the best physique you should come out with, in your mind. There is a lot of stress on the body too, so the recovery period is important too. Another necessity is to have a team, work out, a coach, a therapist. Hire a qualified coach who’ll guide you professionally.

Q. On your youtube, you constantly talk about eating healthy at home and with basic stuff. Do you think the industry of pushing high standard food essentials for workouts is harmful?

Ans. Actually, general fitness and professional fitness are different as I said earlier. My content is also like that. If you want to be healthy, you can eat basic food at home and stay healthy. Stop having junk food from outside, which harms your health. I just tell people that you can stay healthy by eating home-cooked food. But, for building a body, and becoming an athlete, you will need supplements that give you protein and amino. It isn’t harmful as well. But be careful while you choose the product and the brand. There is a lack of knowledge about this in our country. Anybody can and should have protein. 78 percent of people are protein deficient, thus people should understand the positives of supplements.
But the concern now is youngsters consume extra protein and start abusing this. But, you should understand there is no shortcut. You can’t overdose and use illegal substances for quick success. Its effects are irreversible, so stop doing that. Workout diligently and use supplements in prescribed amounts.

Q. Your YouTube channel is a guide to fitness. What are your plans for the youtube channel in the long run?

Ans. Currently, the channel is going to reach 3 million subscribers. The aim of the channel is solely to increase people’s knowledge of fitness. There are so many gyms around the country, but no professional trainers to teach the right thing, the right way to exercise, and postures. All I want is for a viewer to take away something with them, either about health or workout.

Q. Bodybuilding is highly misunderstood in the country. What are common myths you always come across?

Ans. As I said earlier, people think bodybuilding is just like beating up people, but actually, we athletes are very soft at heart. I believe with the increase in fitness awareness and with more influencers taking fitness seriously, this field has huge scope. Now people have also grown to understand that bodybuilding is also a profession.
Yatinder’s family has been his pillar of support throughout, and they are now proud of him. His only wish is to make them feel they could not have asked for a better son. In the end, Yatinder leaves us with the thought that there is no shortcut to success. One should keep working hard, but along with patience. And, if we have the right intentions, there is always success waiting for us. Yatinder is an inspiration and motivation for every small town Indian who wishes to come out victorious from their own little worlds of struggle.