Anish Amatya was born in Odesa, Ukraine and brought up in Kathmandu. When just 16 he started his bodybuilding training and became a personal trainer, finishing his level 3 qualification when he was 18. Recently, he secured the third position in PCA 'Physical Culture Association' Fitness & Bodybuilding Federation in the UK, the leading amateur league there, that too in his first attempt. Anish is currently preparing to compete for the IFBB Pro and hopes to do it by 2024.

Can you tell us in brief about your transformation and interest in understanding your body?
As a chubby kid, I was so insecure about my weight that I would feel self-conscious going swimming in public. But when I moved from Nepal to Ukraine for 3 months, I lost a ton of weight and realized that I still didn’t feel as good as I thought I should. When I started my A-Levels, I started working out regularly and stuck with the habit, since there was a free gym at school. I had rugby player friends who were all big, well-built guys with a certain stature. Once I started training with them, I was motivated to follow a disciplined workout routine. I started watching videos to educate myself on everything I thought there was to know about the body, exercise, and nutrition, and developed a strong passion for it. I even started helping friends out with their body transformations. When my interests nudged me towards bodybuilding, I realized that I knew nothing about the human body – there was so much more to learn. In the following 6 years, I read relevant scientific articles and watched more YouTube videos- anything I could get my hands on; then started working with and learning from a top tier coach in the UK. And the more knowledge I gained, the better I got at understanding my body. There is something very satisfying and rewarding about applying science to achieve guaranteed results. 

How did you get into bodybuilding?
Growing up in Nepal, I saw people around me getting degrees to land what is considered a respectable job, but once I moved to the UK, I started unlearning these beliefs I had previously internalized. I did a few different jobs - one of them was as a senior manager at a Club promo company for a while which demanded a highly active social lifestyle from me. I was networking and meeting a lot of people during this time, but I later started to realize that the nightlife wasn’t for me. The one thing that stayed consistent throughout this for me was going to the gym and training. Working nights was counteractive to what I was trying to achieve in the gym, so I eventually quit my club manager job and joined a supplement company. Here, my curiosity about nutrition/supplements and how they work on the body grew, and I started to do my own research outside of the job. 
There’s a quote that I really like, “The best always changes, but the first will always stay the first”. No matter what crisis or life-decision I was experiencing in my life, I found my growing interest in the science behind human bodies pushing me towards bodybuilding. I kept learning something new, which motivated me to keep learning and growing even more. So I took the risk and dropped out of Uni even though it is something my parents really wanted me to pursue. People told me I was crazy. But in August 2019 I started working with my coach - tracking every meal, every training session, and training harder than ever before. Then in September 2021, I competed in PCA Manchester. It was my first show ever and I placed second, securing an invite to the British Finals. I received a lot of support and acknowledgement from other athletes and coaches who were saying I had great potential in the industry. I competed in the British Finals 6 weeks later, and placed 3rd in all of UK.

How would you explain the basic fundamentals of bodybuilding?
Bodybuilding is all about controlling the variables. You have to control your training, sleep, caloric intake, stress, and water, just to name a few. If you manage to control these variables, the results are going to show. There are no what-ifs here, it’s science. You can’t be eating less than you're burning and not be losing weight. With the right guidance and education, anyone can achieve a better version of themselves if they really want to. Your body doesn’t know that you are in the gym lifting weights - all it knows is that you are putting yourself through progressive stress, so the body adapts just a little bit to accommodate this. It’s a survival adaptation. This is what we call “progressive overload” - the gradual increase in stress put on the body which challenges your body and allows it to grow and get stronger.

How long did it take for you to prepare for the PCA finals and how hard was it?
My prep for the show took me 28 weeks in total, that’s six and a half months of dieting. I was constantly hungry. Eventually the brain slows down, the body aches but you have to keep pushing. In a way, the mental aspect of the sport takes more of a toll on a person than the physical aspect. I have always been a foodie and for me to stop eating my favorite food was exceedingly difficult. Towards the end, I was eating 1400 calories a day with training, cardio, and activity on top. The daily recommended average for a woman is 2000 calories, so me being an 85kg man, you can imagine how it must have been for me. Bodybuilding, just like any other sport that pushes extremes, is not healthy, but as athletes we do what has to be done to achieve what we want. Everything I was eating was focused solely on training and recovery. The training was enjoyable at least, dieting was the worst for a foodie like me.

The career that you are into is basically dominated by meat eaters. So, being a vegetarian, how do you manage to maintain your diet?
I am trying to turn vegan. A lot of studies show that we need meat to get enough protein, but most of these studies are biased and/or are funded by the meat industry. The animal agriculture industry is very cruel, so I cannot justify eating meat for sensory pleasure or even convenience. It also has a major impact on the environment with around 80% of all farmlands we have in the world being used to feed land animals, and the whole human population is sustained with the remaining 20% of farmland. Meat has now been linked to multiple health issues and the WHO has classed certain types of meat as a group 1 carcinogenic or “cancer-causing”. There is enough protein in plants. An average individual that doesn’t train, needs around 60 grams of protein per day, and I eat around 220 grams with relative ease. It’s not at all difficult to find protein as a vegetarian. Considering all the ethical, environmental and health issues, not eating meat is an easy decision for me.

You are also a coach. How did you get into that?
When I became a personal trainer at the age of 18, I didn’t particularly enjoy training people one-on-one. But the more I studied, the more I realized that even though the information is out there, it is not always easily available for people. Because I had firsthand experience with this struggle, it made me want to pass along and share whatever knowledge I had gathered over the years. As a coach, I am able to not only transform physiques, but I can also educate my clients so that when they stop working with me, they leave with the knowledge and skills to sustain themselves or their own clients. Recently, I coached a friend for Dharmashree - Nepal’s top bodybuilding competition, in which he ended up placing third amongst 55 guys in the Men’s Physique category. By programming his diet and seeing his progress and transformation within a short period of time that I worked with him was fascinating to see. As a gym owner who trains people as well, he can now share the knowledge and skills he has gained from this experience with other enthusiasts who are curious to learn. This is why I do what I do. Nepal needs proper coaching and people who really understand the complexities behind the training and nutrition. I believe that with proper guidance and correct information, we could transform the fitness industry of the country. 

What’s next for you?
I am in the process of starting up my own coaching business and train people to become better coaches, athletes, or just healthier individuals with better lifestyles. I want to become an IFBB Professional Bodybuilder in the next couple years, but for now, I will be based in Manchester but as I am an online coach, I can work with anyone in the world. I am already working with a few individuals and bodybuilders in Nepal and would like to expand here too. 

What do you think of the body building scene in Nepal?
I see a lot of potential and dedication from athletes here. With the right training and education, there is no reason why we can’t represent Nepal on a global platform. This trickles down to the gyms as well - better trainers would bring us better results, happier clients, and ultimately a healthier, fitter population. A better understanding of training and nutrition will also benefit athletes in other sports, actors, models, the elderly, etc.There are a lot of cultural changes that need to come around, from a better understanding of food all the way to a more comfortable environment in gyms, especially for women. The changes are already happening, and I hope the progress picks up pace.