The inspiring story of 32-year-old Ekta Kapoor is another reminder that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Born in Nainital, Ekta was raised by a single father, who was a teacher. When Ekta was very young, her mother abandoned her and her father. Many people suggested her father to re-marry. But, her father refused and decided to raise his daughter on his own.
While sharing her childhood details, Ekta mentioned to TBI
“My father worked hard to raise me…. But he was doing this alone, and had a lot more responsibilities to juggle. He even used to walk to and from school every day — our house was in town, and the school was uphill. I struggled with studies in my younger days, which I understand, because he sometimes didn’t get time to dedicate to me while earning a livelihood for our family. I also didn’t focus much on my nutrition, which subsequently affected my immunity. Regardless, I learned how to be independent at a very young age.”
Further sharing how she was married off at young age, Ekta mentioned:
“There’s an increased sense of pressure when it comes to the future of an only child, especially in terms of marriage. My case was no different. That time, around 15-18 years ago, was a little different from today, especially in a small town like Nainital. So I was married off, with the assumption that my life would be smooth sailing thereon,”
But her marriage didn’t turn out the way she and her family hoped for. When she moved to her in-laws’ place, she came to know about how her husband and in-laws hid many things from her. But, what broke her was when she was raped by her own husband.
While sharing the details of her struggle, she mentioned:
“I was very young, and not ready for a physical relationship. I didn’t even know much about sex. Moreover, he was just my husband for namesake, and I did not share a real bond with him. Despite that, I faced marital rape, something which isn’t even categorised as rape in our society. At the time, I wasn’t even aware of what had happened, but I left the house, and went back to Nainital. I was devastated.”
She further added:
“I suddenly lost grasp over where my life was going. My education and career were suffering because I was mentally disturbed. Things also change when you’re just branded as a divorcee. People at family gatherings would come up to me with pity in their eyes and ask me all sorts of questions. I also had to hear some comments like ‘Iske saath toh bachpan se hi aisa ho raha hai (this has been happening to her since her childhood)’. I became depressed, and tried to take my own life a few times,”
Disappointed with her life, Ekta tried to end her life. But was saved, as she was taken to hospital in time. In the hospital, she found out she was pregnant.
People told Ekta that she should give up her daughter for adoption so that she could have the support of both the parents. But, Ekta refused to listen to those negative voices. Rather, she gathered all her courage to turned around her life for her daughter.
Ekta tried everything from aviation to acting to fashion designing to hospitality to teaching to find her life purpose. But, she neither found happiness nor stability in these professions. Meantime, her father decided it would be better for her to remarry. At that time, Ekta requested her dad for some more time to find her life purpose.
It was then, her friend reminded her of her interests in sports during her school days and suggested she join a fitness certification program. While sharing how she found her life purpose in fitness, Ekta mentioned:
“When I started studying for a fitness course, and opened the book for the first time, everything clicked. I’d never been able to fully grasp academics in my younger days, but this, I could absorb with ease. It felt absolutely natural.”
To follow her love for fitness, Ekta moved to Mumbai in 2014. She joined YMCA and began yoga training classes there while looking for a job to sustain herself. She found one in Fitness First, for which she had to give a preliminary exam.
While Ekta embarked on the new journey of fitness, hardly she knew she will find her life purpose and a life partner at the same time. Sharing the details, how she met Shashank, her now-husband, Ekta mentioned:
“Destiny works in mysterious ways. I arrived in Mumbai on 1 April, and so did he. I joined Fitness First on 1 June, and so did he. He was from Uttarakhand too. We didn’t know each other at all, and yet, there were so many connections. I was a fresher in this industry, and was much senior in terms of his experience. I learned a lot from him. In fact, he has been the biggest source of guidance for me through my journey in this industry, and there has been no stopping us since.”
While sharing how her life has turned around, she mentioned:
“The only thing that had always been lacking in my life was a sense of direction. I found it in Shashank, and the industry. Today, I have competed in national and international competitions. I am an MBA graduate, an internationally certified fitness trainer by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), certified kettleball champion by the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation (IKFF), a gold-winning national champion in powerlifting, a state (Uttarakhand) record holder in powerlifting, and co-founder of Mountstrong Personal Fitness Studio in Dehradun with my husband.
Exercise brought me love, recognition and adoration. When I first got a gold medal in powerlifting, people finally knew me as a hard worker in the fitness industry, and not as someone with a rough past. I never wanted anyone’s pity. Fitness helped me achieve that.”
In the end, Ekta shares how she wants to inspire others through her powerful story:
“I wanted to bring my story forward because I know how many women suffer through similar experiences. My hope is that they are inspired enough to never let go of their own dreams, to carry on through all adversity while knowing that they have the right to lead their own lives. I say, ‘If I can do it, so can you’. Give your life, and your loved ones, a chance to love you back.”
At IFORHER, we are in awe of Ekta and hope how she has found the strength to build her life again, many more would seek inspiration from her.