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Super woman

Author: admin

On 9 September 2018, the grounds at the Pardada Pardadi Inter College in Anupshahr in Uttar Pradesh witnessed a flurry of activity. The venue of the 5th Pardada Pardadi Half Marathon saw over 3,000 people from different age groups participating in the run. Leading a group of over 100 children was 61 year-old Madhu Singh, a Delhi-based athlete. She is not just the mentor for these children, but co-founder of NGO Pardada Pardadi Educational Society—the organiser of the event—they are a part of.

Singh has been running with these children every year to motivate them. “I want to make them aware of the benefits of fitness; I also want them to imbibe a culture that instils confidence and prepares them for competition on a bigger platform,” shares Singh. Her win at the CrossFit Open in the 60 age group in 2017 has only led her to strengthen her sports and fitness goals.

Born in Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, Singh was inclined towards athletics from an early age. During her schooling at Gandhi Bal Niketan, she jogged every morning and participated in dance competitions at the inter-college level in Government Girl’s College. “I always led my school at the morning assembly and physical exercise,” she shares. “I believe it was the combination of dance, exercise and jogging that provided natural grace in my movements.”

Her father’s belief in yoga introduced Singh to fitness and good eating habits very early on. “Good habits are formed early and we reap their benefits as we age,” she avers. Her father’s Army background led her to spend a major part of her life in cantonments and toughened her, physically and mentally. An MSc graduate from Agra University, Singh earned a scholarship to pursue research in entomology. She later married an Army officer herself and continued to spend most of her life in army cantonments across India.

Her athletic pursuits have been eclectic. At the age of 40, Singh dabbled in golf. “At the time, my younger son was taking up golf as a profession. I started practising with him and learnt the game in the process.” Golf was more than a pastime; Singh approached it as a competitive sport and went on to win the All India 7th Army Ladies’ Amateur Championship in 2013.

Another turning point in her life came in 2016, when Singh joined CrossFit at a gymnasium in Gurugram. An international fitness regime, it is a strength and conditioning programme comprising a mix of aerobic exercises, calisthenics, gymnastics and running, offered by gymnasiums across the world. “I was turning 60 but didn’t want age to deter my passion,” she says. “As I was regular with my fitness activities, my aches and pains had slowly eased and that reversed my belief that the effects of ageing are inevitable.”

In 2017, Singh participated in the CrossFit Open in the Masters women’s category and stood first in the 60 age group in India—this earned her an Asia ranking of 5 and world ranking of 331. “CrossFit gives me the chance to train and compete with women younger than my age. It is the best exercise for improving agility and strength. I strongly recommend exercise for all silver ladies.”

Singh follows a challenging fitness regime. “I train four days a week with a professional trainer and play golf twice a week. It helps me stay focused and be one with nature. My passion for jogging stays strong and helps me combat stress and keeps me in good form.” In her view, the best is yet to come. “I plan to participate in the CrossFit games at a higher level and spread awareness about its benefits. I believe it’s never too late to regain your health and wellness.” She adds with a smile, “My husband and sons call me ‘superwoman’ as I am always keen to take on any task and my enthusiasm is always at its peak.”

Despite this daunting regimen, she finds the time to indulge her creative pursuits. She enjoys theatre and is a part of a drama group, Tamasha. “I would like to carry on with this magical balance as long as is possible,” says Singh, who also heads a hospitality company in Gurugram. “Life does not require that we be the best but we should try our best. Excellence comes when we are in healthy competition with our own self and when we strive to outdo our former self. We only understand life backwards but it must be lived forward too.” Salute!

—Neha Kirpal

Photos courtesy: Madhu Singh
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
December 2018