I was born on Friday 13th February, 1981, at the San Fernando General Hospital, located in San Fernando, Trinidad, to first time parents Devanan and Hazel Maharaj. I spent the first three years of my life at my maternal grandparents’ home in South Oropouche, surrounded by several of my mother’s brother and sisters and a close knit community where neighbours were extensions of the family unit. I was very close to my mother"s parents, Veronica and Ralph Tywang and was brought up with a strong Roman Catholic background due to my grandmother"s spirituality.
My childhood days were spent playing with my younger brother, Keegan, my cousins Darius and Demetrius Salandy, and Jason Dwarika. Even after moving to San Fernando to live with my father’s parents at Skinner Street, San Fernando, I was surrounded by little boys my age so I was sort of a tom boy, and enjoyed riding my bicycle, skateboarding, rollerblading and climbing trees, among other things.
At the age of 7, my family moved into a house on South Street, San Fernando, which was right next to my grandparents’ home and in addition to having a new house, I soon had another brother, Devan, and sister Khelsy, to look after.
I grew up not only in close proximity to my grandparents but also in a very close relationship with them and my dad’s younger brothers Robin and Rudranath (Ravi). I always looked up to my uncle Ravi and wanted to be a part of everything he was doing. I thought he was my big brother and I marveled as he and his friends played cricket and football and later on when I saw him lifting weights.
At the age of 8, my parents enrolled me into a ballet and classical dance class on Coffee Street, San Fernando, while my brother was signed up for Martial Arts with the Purple Dragon Institute right across the road. However, I stuck around for merely the first few minutes of the dance warm up session and quickly got my belongings together and crossed the street in order to catch my parents and beg them to let me do karate.
I was shy and quite nervous at first, but as the months passed by, I grew to love the exercises and the classes and developed into quite a quick learner. I easily progressed through the ranks and was able to earn my blue belt at the age of 12. While at Purple Dragon, I fought at many tournaments and represented my Dojo at several displays and meetings. I was nicknamed “Rose” by Sensi Thorne, his reason being that I was pretty to look at but dangerous to get close to because if you touched me you would get hurt.
After writing the Common Entrance examinations in 1992 and leaving St. Gabriel’s Girls’ Roman Catholic School, I started my secondary school education at Naparima Girls’ High School where I excelled in my classes and was quite an all rounded student. I continued with my Martial Arts training at Purple Dragon and also joined the Martial Arts class at school. I also became involved in gymnastics, aerobics and track and field, and was able to represent my school at various levels of competition throughout the country.
I was a member of the Student Council at NGHS and was quite involved in all aspects of the school’s operations. I was a member of the Drama club, the Debating club, the Photography club, and the President’s Award Scheme. I loved helping with the planning of school bazaars, sports days, prize giving day and fundraising events. While attending Naps, I was even crowned Jr Miss Naps, at the school’s pageant and talent competition.
In 1999, I successfully completed my A Level examinations and was accepted into the Social Sciences Faculty at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, to pursue my degree in Management Studies. I kept up with training while at UWI, however, I was not involved in any competitive sports.
For the first time, I started working out a gym, making use of the campus gym 3 days a week and including swimming and running during the other 4 days of the week. While at UWI, I also picked up new hobbies, and became a passionate hiker and a fan of kayaking.
Before completing my final year exams in 2002, I was recruited by Caribbean Money Market Brokers Limited (CMMB), a new and expanding brokerage firm located in Port of Spain. I started work in May 2002 and had a grueling work schedule that did not allow me to have the time, energy or inclination to be involved in sports the way I used to be since this new job was so interesting and challenging that it enticed me to pursue further education in order to excel and be successful within the financial and investment sector.
I began studying for the designation of Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with the Association for Investment Management Research (AIMR) shortly after graduating with Honours from UWI.
In 2004, I opted for a career change and began working within the Energy Sector. I was based in south Trinidad and was now able to incorporate some gym time into my schedule. I joined St. Michael’s Gym in San Fernando and true to form I became so involved in my workouts that my friends and family nicknamed me a gym rat. They even teased that the gym should pay me for being there because I was at the gym so much.
I took the joke to be a good suggestion and started doing various certifications through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). I thought that I could use the knowledge I had gained to improve my workouts and way of eating and even help my friends and family because it seemed to me that basically everyone had a desire to look better, eat better and generally have a healthier lifestyle, but not many people knew the right way to do so.
After becoming trained and certified, I started teaching Aerobics and Pilates classes during the latter part of 2005. Soon I was also teaching Spin Classes and had a list of personal training clients. I became a recognizable name and face after doing a few episodes of Fit for Life (a local fitness television program), with Judy Alcantara and also from being seen at several gyms around south Trinidad. I was associated with St. Michael’s Gym, Fitness Zone, Excel Gym, Trinidad Dance Theatre and helped run Shape Studio, a women’s only gym that followed the concepts of Curves, USA.
Prior to 2005, I rarely worked out with weights and if I did, I opted for light weights. However, due to the high volume of cardiovascular workouts that were now a part of my day due to number of classes I was teaching, I started incorporating weight training into my workouts in order to maintain some muscle mass and tone. I had quite a lean physique and with the addition of resistance training I noticed satisfying results. Now, because of my serious approach to training, my clean diet and my constantly changing physique, I was asked by friends, family and people at the gym if I was preparing for a competition.
At first I thought these comments were just failed attempts at humour, but after being asked enough times, I was encouraged to get into competing. I started to prepare for my first competition which would have been held in June 2007. However, due to my work schedule I was unable to compete. I was not discouraged. I saw this not as a set back but as an opportunity to improve my appearance.
Finally I was able to step on stage in June 2008 and won my first competition as a figure competitor in the TTBBF National Junior Bodybuilding Championships. I had been preparing on my own at this point even though I had the support of my training group and the advice of several former competitors who were based at my gym.
After my first competition, I relentlessly scrutinized the photos and videos of the show and knew that I wanted to continue competing and in order to do so, I needed to make significant changes and improvements to my body. As faith would have it, I was taken under the wing of Richard Seechan who has been preparing me for competitions from that point onward. My first year was quite exciting and successful, and I truly developed a love for competing and a sense of myself as an athlete.
At the end of the competition season in November 2008, I noticed a drastic change in my physique from what I looked like when I started competing in June 2008. I had gone from competing at 105lbs in June to competing at 135lbs in November, with a fuller and more powerful looking physique. Richard prompted me to take the leap into the “other side” and compete in bodybuilding. I used my time during the off season to do my research and really examine my options and my goals as an athlete.
In February 2009, when I met Richard to start work for the 2009 season, my mind was set on bodybuilding. I was thrilled at the idea of doing my mandatory poses and a free-posing routine and really pushing the limits of my body to see how much I could grow and change in terms of muscularity. It was time for me to join in on all the fun the boys had been having.
Competing in 2009 was quite a challenge because this was a whole different ball game with a different method of training and dieting from that of a physique competitor. I had to re-learn everything and I had to get all my preparation done while working full-time as the Manager of a new gym in south Trinidad that required my presence at work from 5am to 10pm, seven days a week.
2009 was a great year for me as an athlete. I was successful at securing the first place and overall titles in all of my competitions and was pleased with my appearance and presentation as a new comer to bodybuilding. I was also able to defeat several top ranking female bodybuilders and was offered the opportunity to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the CAC games.
2010 brought the opportunity for me to travel all over the world and experience training in different countries and gyms, as well as meet, learn from and train with several IFBB professional bodybuilders. I returned to Trinidad and once again graced the stage at Musclemania 2010, securing the position as the number one female bodybuilder in Trinidad and Tobago.
2011 was a year of mixed experiences. It was a great year for me as an athlete since I was able to make alot of improvements to my physique and develop my body to take on a more powerful, muscular, complete and international look. I successfully won the the overall title at the TTBBF Senior Bodybuilding Championships and had intentions of representing Trinidad and Tobago at various regional and international events that year. However, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to compete as I had hoped and later made the decision to resign permanently from the Trinidad and Tobago Bodybuilding Federation for my own personal reasons.
2012 was full of change, more growth and lots of exciting surprises. I decided to relocate to the US and have been training for my competitions there. I was also accepted by the US Virgin Islands in January 2012, to be their National representative at future bodybuilding events. Since joining thw USVI team of athletes, I have been given an overwhelming amount of support, encouragement, motivation and guidance from the administration of their Bodybuilding and Powerlifting Federation. I am eager to make the USVI proud as I step on stage at the Arnold Sport Festival 2013 and am excited to see what the future holds. I truly believe that this opportunity will allow me to make my bodybuilding dreams a reality.
Due to my involvement in the sport of bodybuilding and my abilities to draw and excite audiences as well as represent the sport as a true ambassador and spokesperson, I have had the honour of working with the following persons/groups and organizations:
? Fit for Life hosted by Judy Alcantara (2005-present)
? Iwer George in his 2011 Soca Monarch presentation
? Big Mike and Friends/ Legacy the band for the 2010 and 2011 Carnival presentations
? Ashley Alfonso (former Miss Teen Trinidad and Tobago/ Universe representative)
? Kiss baking company
? Prolab/ Pharmtech
? GNC/ Anthony P Scott
? I love my Ride hosted by Rodney Granado
? Synergy nights hosted by Jason Williams/ Whitney Husbands
? Sports talk hosted by Vinode Mamchand
? Sports Edition hosted by Joel Villafana
? Naparima Girls Highschool
I have also had several articles written about myself on all of the local newspaper publishings (Trinidad Express, Trinidad Guardian, Trinidad Newsday, Sunday Punch, TnT Bomb), and have been aired on and invited to be a part of many radio programs and local news programs.
I love interacting with crowds and meeting new people, so making guest appearances, and doing lectures, workshops and group consultations are a part of my giving back to the people that support me and those who would like to know more about bodybuilding, health and fitness. I enjoy hosting events of all types and take pride in my sport and my ability to motivate and encourage women as well as people from all walks of life, into embracing a healthier lifestyle.