This Is How A SG Hijabi Powerlifter Navigates Ramadan


Qistina Bumidin •  Apr 27, 2022

Exercising during Ramadan? Uh, that's a big miss for many of us ? But for Nadhirah Amran, it's just another month of heading to the gym for her daily workouts. And she's not doing your usual cardio or strength exercises, which we are already so tired of the mere thought of doing; she has actually been powerlifting for about 4 years now! ? In the tenth part of our Ramadan Experiences series, the 25-year-old physiotherapist shares with us how she balances powerlifting with Ramadan ?

P.S. Loving our series so far? Here are others if you missed them!

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Exercising During Ramadan: The Do's And Don'ts According To Nadhirah, A Powerlifter

1. What got you interested in the sport?

Credit: Courtesy of Nadh

While I was studying at the University of Queensland, Australia, I decided to join the powerlifting club for the fun of it, and I immediately fell in love with the sport. I love working out, and powerlifting makes my exercise sessions even more fun and less tiring because you could do like 5 repetitions and then rest 3 minutes, as compared to cardio training, which takes away a lot more energy than you'd actually think! What's better is that when you're powerlifting, you'll build more muscles, which burn more calories without you being so drained after your session ?

2. How do you manage such an intense activity with fasting?

I think working around my day job is definitely not easy. On weekdays, I go home and iftar with the family, then I would do my prayers, then head to the gym at 9 pm. I usually train for 2 hours so I reach home around 11.30 pm. On weekends, I train after Asar and head home in time for iftar, which is a bit less tiring, but at least I feel less thirsty. Juggling a full-time job that requires a lot of physical and mental energy isn't easy after work, especially during fasting month but having a great community at Anytime Fitness near my house makes going to the gym something I look forward to ?

3. It's rare to hear a woman, more so, a Muslim woman who wears a hijab try out a stereotypically masculine sport like powerlifting. Were there any difficulties you faced? How did you navigate through them?

Credit: Courtesy of Nadh

Initially, it was very intimidating because the gym is an environment with a lot of men. In addition, the powerlifting racks were always occupied by men, so I was very shy to even approach the area. However, when I started making friends, or 'gym bros' if you will, got myself used to the equipment when there were lesser people at the gym, and most importantly, reminded myself of my intentions for powerlifting, I've become really comfortable at the gym; almost as if it's my second home! ?

There's also that fear of walking to the gym full of women with really good physiques; I'll get conscious of my own body because I am plus-sized, and do not wear clothes that are body-hugging. I kept comparing myself to these women, which made me feel embarrassed and undeserving of simply working out at the gym. However, after training for so long, I am learning to be more confident with myself and not compare myself with others. At the end of the day, you just realise that everyone is at the gym because we are all working towards our own goals ?

4. So, what are your goals for powerlifting?

For me, powerlifting is simply a hobby for me, and I always strive to make my training better. I don't have a coach but my background in physiotherapy helps me to fine-tune my own training. I have learnt so much and have grown so much not only as a casual lifter but as a physiotherapist. The powerlifting community in Singapore has been growing in the local gyms and it warms my heart to see so many new and intermediate lifters share their knowledge and train together in the local gyms. I do wish to see more of my sisters dabble in powerlifting and dispel the idea that powerlifting is simply a masculine sport ☺️

5. Will you ever try out powerlifting competitions in the future?

Credit: Courtesy of Nadh

In the long term, I do hope to participate in local powerlifting competitions! I actually do have experience competing while I was in Australia. Competing in powerlifting is not easy; there's a strict training programme (usually a 13 to 16-week cycle) I must follow closely. Powerlifting is a very technical sport where the form is very important so even during the competition itself we are "graded" during the lift. It is also a very high injury risk sport and I have had to battle with a lot of injuries during the competition itself which has not been easy mentally. However, the accomplishment of beating my own personal records and just pushing myself physically is unparalleled and I am always in amazement at what my body can do ?

6. Lastly, any advice for those who want to start exercising?

Fitness is a long journey, but you can make it motivating and fulfilling by doing exercises that are sustainable and something that you'll enjoy. Don't jump into a strenuous exercise immediately; take it easy! You wouldn't want to sustain injuries that will demoralise you and bring you back to square one. At the end of the day, working out is just a means for us to be stronger in other aspects of our life, and have a better quality of life! ?

Nadhirah has made a video detailing her daily routine, where she shows how she balances powerlifting and Ramadan so stay tuned! ?