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India’s First Female Surfer Is So Rad, You’ll Want To Bookmark Her Story!

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There’s always something keeping you from dreaming big. Sometimes it’s the lack of inspiration, other times it’s a hoard of commitments. Most times, it’s a combination of the two. But let’s be honest: for a lot of us, it is a hell of a lot of excuses! If you put your heart and mind to something, there’s nothing in the world that can stop you from achieving it. If you’re doubting me on that claim, you have to meet the kickass women we’ve been featuring on Hauterfly over the past few months. These athletes have made their dreams come true and achieved things that many thought impossible. They’ve shattered the glass ceiling through sheer grit and determination and, in the bargain, have helped motivate girls like you and me to kick some ass like the girl bosses we are.

Today, we bring to you a heart-to-heart with a true-blue surfer girl. A typical coastal soul at heart, Ishita Malaviya’s love for the sea started pretty early. When she first tried surfing in 2007, she got so into it that it rooted in her a dream of becoming a professional surfer. And when detractors told her she’d never make it big in a male-dominated sport, Ishita refused to pay heed. She made the sea her school by riding the waves with perseverance, practice, and a dream. The result? She launched India’s first bonafide surfing school, called the Shaka Surf Club in Kodi Bengre, a small village in Karnataka. Little did she know then that one day she would be part of a movement that inspired countless women who think they can never make it in a man’s world. Read on!

Read on for her inspiring story!

1. Dream It, Do It!

“Although Mumbai is an island city, you rarely find yourself enjoying the ocean because of all the pollution. I always assumed, like everyone else in India at the time, that you could not surf here, and dreamed of travelling abroad to learn to surf someday.

I struggled with catching waves at first. It was something so new, something I had never experienced before in my life. The ocean has a beautiful way of making you feel strong and humble, at the same time. I would get knocked down by waves relentlessly but kept going at it, till I caught one wave and that one wave of pure joy would give me the strength to face another 10 knockdowns!

The ocean has been my greatest teacher. When everyone was telling me I could not do it, I was able to persevere and keep surfing, chasing my dream because that is what the ocean had taught me. When I started surfing, it was not looked upon as a respectable sport. I was constantly being told to get a ‘real job’, ‘stop wasting my time’. In those moments, I realised the only way to move forward in my life was to stay true to myself and keep surfing, living the surf lifestyle.”

? THAT SALTY FEELING ? Thanks for the lovely photo ?: @routes_and_shoots ??? #ladyslider #myseealife #unfairandlovely
A photo posted by Ishita Malaviya (@surfishita) on

2. If You Fail, Practice Winning

“Being the first woman surfer in the country, I had no coach to show me the ropes, and no other women surfers to look up to during my early days in Manipal. So I put all my energies into teaching myself. I watched online videos, learned how to understand the sea, to read the tides, and how to move with the changes of the ocean. The challenges I faced were both physical and mental. I didn’t have the stamina or the upper body strength I needed to paddle, unlike the talented and fearless boys around me. So I was determined to push myself harder. After every failure, I’d swim back to the shore, tired and frustrated. But I’d always paddle back out there, to have a go at it one more time. Again, and again, and again… until I could stay out longer than I did the day before.

It took a lot of practice, hours and hours of being in the water under the harsh, relentless sun, before I earned a place for myself in the male-dominated surfing community. I became the first professional woman surfer in the country and went on to establish The Shaka Surf Club, one of the first surf schools in India with the goal of introducing people of all ages to the joy of riding waves!”

3. There’s Always Something New To Learn

“When you spend so much time in the ocean, it becomes your home. I’m drawn to the sense of challenge, freedom and peace I feel when I’m surfing, which has helped me find balance both in and out of the water.

It does not matter if you are having the best day or worst day of your life, once you step in the ocean with your board, it centres you, makes you live in that very moment. Learning to move with the raw power of the ocean brings to the surface all my strengths and fears. It was in those moments when I was scared out of my mind, as I paddled for the biggest waves of my life that I learned to embrace challenges and face my fears head on. I learned to be patient and to just go with the flow, no matter what life throws at me. I find myself drawing parallels between surfing and life. I now chase my dreams with the same vigour and passion as I charge into waves, even if it means wiping out and facing defeat once in a while, because the best part about surfing and life is that if you miss one wave, there is always another wave coming!”

Inspired? What’s stopping you from getting out there and doing your thing? Start moving with the Nike + Training Club App or if you’re in Mumbai, sign up with us for a weekly session here.

To keep up with Ishita’s inspiring journey, follow her on Instagram.

* This is a dedicated post in collaboration with Nike.

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