Name: Shazia, 45
Shazia trained in fitness and counselling and then set up a not-for-profit fitness company to benefit the women in her area. Predominantly populated by South Asian women and their families in Middlesbrough Nur Fitness helps to deal with key issues such as menopause, mental health and cancer that today are still taboo subjects for BME communities and through exercise help them live healthier, happier and more empowered lives.
“I think a lack of understanding about the menopause is a generational problem. I don’t think a lot of women understand that in our community or the men and I think a lot of people probably suffer more because of that. Can you imagine the impact that has on you when no one understands what you are going through? There are too many people out there who are suffering and a lot of that is due to a lack of awareness, so we think it is our duty to make a difference really.”
Sport isn’t even seen as important part of our culture’s lives. All of our instructors we have purposely chosen women at different stages and places in life. Our sister is one of them, she is 55 so I get her to talk about it and tell them what you are going through, they might say oh that happened to me and that breaks down barriers. If it is someone near your age, from your background and culture and language all of a sudden it becomes more acceptable to them. That’s why I am taking part in this they need to see people similar to themselves it might help them to know it happens to all of us.
If we had something like Nur fitness then for my mum, it might have helped her. A lot of women come to me depressed with no one to speak to, people laugh at them and think they are being dramatic. That is what she was like and the knock-on effect was we suffered. I don’t want that to go in vein. I want to use my experience to help other people.
If someone is struggling with their hormones etc during Ramadan we advise gentle exercise like a walk. But a funny thing is that if you are on your period you don’t have to fast. But when you are older and your periods have stopped post menopause you don’t get that break you have to go the whole time. If you don’t have a period, you have to fast. So older women used to having that break it absolutely kills them. They are exhausted. Plus they do more than the men, they are doing everything so that can really have an impact.
Sport definitely helps them, it makes a big difference. Exercise makes you happier. If you are fitter and healthier everything is going to be a little bit easier for you to manage.”
Shazia’s Menopause Story is part of our curation of images and short films creating in partnership with Getty Images. These challenge the way women going through the menopause are portrayed in society, illustrating the joy of exercise and how it has changed their lives – building community, friendship, adventure, fun and camaraderie. Find out more about the #menopossibilities campaign here.