Strong is beautiful: Gayathri Kodithuwakku

This week, we sat down with a home-grown superstar who has dedicated her life to spreading positivity. Best known as @Gaiakodithuwakku on Instagram, she is a fitness coach, fitness model, and competitor. Gaia, aka Gayathri Kodithuwakku, although only her mother calls her Gayathri anymore, and she prefers it that way, has become an online sensation with her Instargam stories on client transformations and her own training regimen which she so kindly shares with her avid audience.

Hailing from a middleclass family, an only child, she is not so different from us, but the one thing that so jarringly sets everyone else and Gaia apart is her tenacity and dedicated passion. Here’s what she had to say about her life and rise to success.

You are at present a renowned fitness coach and also fitness model, what led you down this path and into adopting this lifestyle?

I was doing my Bachelors in Australia, studying criminal justice administration for over four years, and right before finishing my internship, I packed up and left the country because I found myself lost on many levels.
I was confused and suffered chronic depression for nearly eight years and I think who I have become today is a result of me trying to constantly figure out who I am and what I am here to do; it’s all to do with self-awareness and constant trial and error.

I was in a weak state mentally and physically. And I found strong to mean beautiful. I would literally watch fitness videos of strong women and visualise myself doing and feeling the same. I turned to fitness because I wanted to empower myself. I was done being a victim.

Why do you think, as of recent times, there’s been a widespread interest in fitness and healthy living? Do you think the interest is purely cosmetic or is there a deeper understanding there?

It really goes both ways. The innate need to attract and to appear attractive pushes us to want to look good, but after training hundreds of women locally and all over the world, I’ve come to understand that most of us are looking for a deeper connection to ourselves through movement and living a life that promotes self-love.

We’ve seen the gruelling sessions you put in at the gym day in and day out. Could you share with us how you would describe your work ethic and what motivates you to keep going?

It’s the love for my craft. It’s fair to say my passion has consumed my life. I literally have no hobbies or anything that I regularly indulge in other than training and work. There is nothing that I’d rather do, and I know how blessed I am to be aligned with my passion. Knowing this alone pushes me to grow, expand, and evolve in every way possible. There is no slowing down from here.

You speak of self-love and positivity, does this stem from a spiritual place? Because we often see you talk about your deep-seated faith in your belief system. How important do you think that is in maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

Yes, absolutely. During the darkest times of my life, when nothing at all had gone right for me, I’ve always felt divine intervention. I always surrender myself fully and choose to be led and nothing at all there onwards is taken personally by me.

This connection for me is so strong that whenever challenges arise, I almost get excited because I know it will bring me closer to spirit and strengthen my connection to myself and all that is.

Who inspire you on the daily? Care to drop some names?

David Goggins, Elliott Hulse, Joe Rogan, Jada Pinkett Smith, Massy Arias, Tupac, Trevor Noah, Oprah. Whoever speaks the truth.

We know you have a packed day of rigorous training and consulting with clients but what do you do on your off days?

On my rest day, I have yoga at 6 a.m. and acupuncture in the evening. All part of the recovery process. Other than physically taking a day off once a week from gym, I have no days off from work.

But once in a while, I may take a few days off; travel and reset when I need to. I love all sorts of movies. Its cliché but I love rom-coms – I can’t help it. I don’t want to stress myself out with horror or sad movies. I try to only feed my mind happy thoughts.

There has been some negative connotations attached to the word “influencer”, especially as of recent rimes. What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you see yourself as an “influencer”?

As much as I hate that word, it is a fact. There is a following that engages with me every day; watch my life through the filters of social media, get inspired, get connected. All of which is great. But being held on to as a role model, or someone in their mind who needs to emulate perfection, is not a realistic expectation.

I’ve received countless messages from women considering suicide, I’ve had a woman turn up at my doorstep after getting beaten up by her husband, I’ve had women open up to me for the first time ever about being raped or molested as a child.
To be receiving this on a regular basis is not easy. Most of these women expect answers that I may not always be able to give. But what they see on my platform does influence them to perceive me and so many other influencers in ways that go to show how much impact we have on people.

What would you say is your greatest achievement and possibly your proudest moment in your career?

My first experience on an international platform as a bikini competitor. More than the achievement itself, or getting a top ranking, was the fact that I learnt that the body is mouldable like clay. The wisdom I obtained was priceless, and today, my clients reap the benefits of my experience. Seeing my ladies transform inside out is my biggest achievement.

What would you say have been the greatest obstacles you’ve had to overcome over the years?

Becoming self-reliant and self-sufficient was the toughest for me. It’s so easy to blame the world for everything that went wrong for you. Playing the victim is so easy; taking responsibility is hard.

You have turned something you are passionate about into a career. What do you have to say to anyone who feels that they simply do not have time to attempt things they are passionate about?

Do not be scared of failure. I was 30 when I finally became a financial success. Until that point, I was trying, failing, broke, and struggling for a very long time. But through self-doubt and zero support from those around me, I pushed through because I wasn’t scared to listen to the voice inside that did not let me settle for the anything other than what made me absolutely happy. So try, fail, and try again until the path aligns itself with you. Take the bugs out, get rid of whatever slows you down – people, habits, and places.

Can you offer some quick fitness tips for any novice who wants to get started but doesn’t know what to do first?

Start today. Whatever you do, even if it’s just walking, do it every single day. Quit sugar, drink water, cut out the processed food, eat fresh natural produce, and stick to it over a long period of time. It’s not the results but the journey that will transform you.

Any fitness myths you want to bust once and for all?

There are so many. One is that you will look like a man if you lift. Women are not biologically capable of building muscle the way men do. We produce 1/16 of the testosterone levels that men produce; so when people ask me this, it kind of makes me laugh because it’s a myth that has been going around for decades and we still believe it.

What do you think is the most important thing your audience should take away from everything you share?

Self-love, self-expression – to speak the truth fearlessly and commit to something bigger than yourself.


By Dimithri Wijesinghe

Photos: Shifani Reffai (IG – @shifanireffai)