The Body At 40

Ammetta Malhotra tells Karen-Michaela Tan that bikini fitness has no age limit.

March 5, 12:02 PM

She doesn’t wow you, as much as blow you away. Amazingly though, it’s not her hot bod that I notice first, but her energy. Ammetta Malhotra has such a good vibe about her, with nothing of the mean girl archetype. She welcomes everyone the same way, be they slob or starlet. This personality trait probably contributed to her being named Mrs. Fitness Globe 2018 in Palm Springs, California, United States of America. She also finished as one of the top ten finalists of Mrs Globe. 
Ammetta, 45, is not one to hide her age. She revels in the awe-struck looks when she tells people how old she is. And she has a reason for it. She is on a crusade to tell women that it is never too old to start a fitness routine. As fitting her larger-than-life personality, she also pushes women to go further than they think they can go. 
Ampang-born Ammetta has always been a natural athlete. An under-15 judo gold medalist, she also excelled at shot putt. “I was a bit of a tomboy. So typical really, this tomboy turned beauty queen story!” Prior to her pageant life however, Ammetta read English in Universiti Malaya, and pursued her Masters at the age of 26, despite actually yearning to do something different. “From a young age I dreamt of cultivating a bodybuilding physique. I spent my twenties and thirties working, and having to put aside this dream. Then in my forties I had a realisation. My mother had died of an aneurysm at the age of 42, when I was 17. I did not want to risk dying prematurely at the age my mother did, without doing what I loved. I wanted to motivate and inspire people. Beauty pageants gave me the platform for it. Beauty pageants also helped me step into the world of fitness modeling and bikini fitness,” she shares. 
A natural performer, Ammetta brought her charisma and people skills to the catwalk. It helped that she had taught more fitness classes than one could shake a stick at, having moved from fitness chains, aerobics studios, and gyms before opening her own training facility, Target Fitness, located in Bangunan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, Petaing Jaya. It is at Target Fitness that she trains herself and others. 
The bikini fitness model category looks for lean, fit, toned, athletic, symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing women. These are girls one sees on the cover of Sports Illustrated, or Shape magazine. For the charismatic powerhouse Ammetta, this was easy work. “I teach body pump and Zumba. I also do ashtanga yoga twice a week. These give me my cardio and coordination. Since I love exercise, it was easy for me to fit into the bikini fitness model category,” explains the 170 cm beauty. It was winning this category in Mrs Globe that made pageant organisers notice the vivacious Malaysian.
Once she got her foot in the door, there was no stopping Ammetta. She canvassed for Miss Malaysia Planet to incorporate fitness in their judging criteria, stressing that the standards of beauty in Malaysia needed to change. “Our beauty pageant contestants needn’t always be thin, pale and short. This is Malaysia, where there are so many different forms of beauty,” she exclaims. The pageant winner now judges Miss Malaysia Planet, working with the organisers to promote the rise of toned, fitness-loving contestants, while moving from bikini fitness to sport model competitions.
The typical sport model or fitness model workout routine requires a minimum of five workouts per week. Fitness model workouts can be very similar to that of a bodybuilder, although less calories are consumed, and the desired body proportions are different. Most fitness model workouts use straight set training. Straight sets is a strength training term that means completing an exercise, resting for one or two minutes, then doing the same exercise again, for a predetermined number of sets. 
Most fitness models split their workouts so one muscle group is being addressed each day. Most programmes for sport/fitness models also promote steady state cardio, in order to achieve the desired leanness we see in photos. Generally, the programmes are time-consuming, and difficult to keep up, which is why sport models tend to be paid more than the run-of-the-mill pretty faces and slim bodied models. 
The challenge of sport/fitness modeling is something that the ballsy pageant winner is really enjoying. This type of competition is a class of physique-exhibition events for women. While bearing a close resemblance to female bodybuilding, its emphasis is on muscle definition, not size. “That very veiny look you sometimes get among bodybuilders is 80 percent nutrition and 20 percent exercise. A toned butt, however, doesn’t come from squats alone,” she laughs. Having done her Masters in Rehabilitation Science, Ammetta is more aware than most about what can happen to the body if worked wrongly. Which is why she subscribes to the theory that although all women can lose weight, some will not, when working with personal trainers who insist on burpees and jump squats for a very overweight client.
While in preparation to compete in Mrs Universe Classic in Bulgaria from January 19-23 2019, where she represented Malaysia, Ammetta focused on metabolic functional training for a supple, lithe body. “I do not do specific body parts. There is no leg, chest, back or arms day for me. Being a corrective exercise specialist, I know that if I work on the bigger body parts, I will cause other areas to be very tight. My goal is to look good as well as to be functionally strong. Preparation for sport modelling is also about eating well, which means no oily food, no ice cream, and only one or two cheat meals. Preparation time is also when I add on more calories - about 1,000 more or so, but in the last six weeks of preparation, I will cut calories and start eating really clean. It will take eight to 12 weeks to get into perfect shape, but that shape cannot be maintained all year round, or the body stops responding. Hence, off-season, I weigh 64 kg, while on season, I am closer to 61 kg. While it is hard work for some, I think sport modelling is a great hobby if one does it correctly and healthily. I believe that fitness heals many things. In a way, it’s like alcohol. Only it actually has benefits,” laughs Ammetta, with her trademark joker smile. 

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