Lifting up from fear

Without standing up to fear, third-year St. Thomas University student and bodybuilder Aranyam Bora believes we wouldn’t be able to live.

“That’s one thing that brings me to [bodybuilding]. Fear.”

Bora,21, came to Canada from India in 2017 to attend STU. It was after he had been going to the gym for two years when he found a passion for bodybuilding. He competes in shows and is prepping for national competitions, if he can qualify. He has won the Flex Lewis Canadian Classic 2019 men’s physique bronze medal. But Bora’s path was far from easy.

Bora describes the sport as “ghetto.” He said where he comes from people assume you are joining a gang if you train at the gym.

“The way we look, the way we carry ourselves. People tend to think we’re obnoxious … a little crazy.”

But for Bora, it was the perfect sport. He was a 15-year-old skinny kid that would get bullied for his size when he attended boarding school in India. Bora said a group of older kids beat him up with hockey sticks one night, made him bleed and knocked him out unconscious. Doctors had to flush out his stomach because he had lost so much blood. He described this as some of the toughest times of his life.

When Bora was 15, he said he attempted to commit suicide multiple times.

This influenced Bora to do something for himself.

“That’s what knocked me into my senses,” Bora said.

“[I thought], ‘I’m not going down like this’ … There’s always something you can do.”

Bora started going to the gym when he was 15. (Submitted by Aranyam Bora)

Bora was inspired to start his gym training. Though he had grown up training in martial arts, he believed martial arts wasn’t enough.

At first, Bora didn’t intend to be a bodybuilder. Putting on muscle was what Bora wanted to do for himself.

“When I first started up, I didn’t decide I was bodybuilding, I just wanted to build up myself,” he said.

“I wanted to finish strong. I didn’t want to be bullied anymore. That was it … I wasn’t living big enough.”

Coming to Canada helped Bora discover the sport he loves today.

As a full-time student, Bora also juggles two jobs as well as keeping up with his workouts to prepare for upcoming competitions. Most days, he trains close to three hours, while trying to maintain his social life, along with keeping up with his YouTube channel, where he gives gym advice. He said he doesn’t sleep often because it’s a potential missed opportunity.

“If I’m missing this much time, I’m missing this many opportunities. When I do something, it’s an eight or nine-hour stretch … I have an addictive personality.”

Though it may seem strange, Bora said this keeps him focused.

“It’s all about priorities, about time management,” he said.

There have been times Bora has thought of quitting. To get focused, he takes a deep breath and gets ready to buckle up once again.

“That’s what pushes me when I reach dead ends.”

Bora said his new environment helps him stay motivated as well.

“I’m surrounded by people who have goals, inspirations, pushing you … and that’s what pushes me.”

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