Tuesday, January 22, 2019 ;
Why is it that when you search ‘Muslim fitness’ into Google, it decides to only show me the women? Are hijabis taking over that fast?! Well, I want to tweak that a little and see Muslims in the fitness industry from a male perspective. This could be interesting!
I’ve always been interested to see how fitness can impact one’s life.
22 year old, Mohamed Sharif, decided he had enough of not being comfortable in his own skin, and his journey to reclaim back his confidence and security is a major triumph.
Sharif now runs Swolehood, an online coaching programme which motivates people to not only improve their physical health but also their mental capabilities – and his story is deeply inspiring!
Tell us a bit about yourself
5 years ago, just like most teenagers at the age of 18, I was extremely skinny, unconfident and insecure about how I looked and how I felt within my skin.
When I first began training my initial purpose wasn’t to pursue this sort of lifestyle which at the time I believed was unsustainable and very difficult to fit into the way I lived and to my religion. Fast-forward 5 years later, having overcome many challenges and obstacles I can happily say that this was by far the best thing that had happened to me until today.
I’m very humbled and motivated to know how many people I am able to inspire by my transformation around the world through showcasing my transformation on my YouTube channel.
Today I run an online coaching programme called SwoleHood along with a close friend of mine. Swolehood is a programme which motivates and works with people who want to improve their health and wellbeing of all levels, ages, and capabilities.
Describe your lifestyle in three words
What got you into fitness?
Wanting to gain confidence in my skin and to leave behind something people would remember me for.
How has fitness impacted your life?
It’s impacted my life more ways that I can possibly imagine. For example, living this fitness lifestyle has allowed me to build a lot of willpower, determination and focus, which I can implement in everyday life in whatever I decide to do.
What’s your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement would definitely be how I was able to lose over 70lbs in only 6 months, going from over 20% body fat to under 10%.
How do you balance out your day alongside your deen?
I balance out my lifestyle along with my deen by remaining God conscious at all times and working hard in what I do.
However, the fitness industry being an industry whereby people are constantly exposing their skin to the point where they get almost fully naked has definitely been a challenge for me as Muslim fitness figure trying to reach out to the Muslim community.
Just as our sisters have been commanded to dress modestly so have us brothers. Recently I have been working on ways which I can overcome this challenge and inshallah work towards following the Sunnah to the best of my ability while following my passion and still doing what I love.
Food obviously has to come in to this somewhere! What’s your favourite cheat meal?
Nutella without a doubt! And I do also enjoy my burgers LOL.
How has your social platform helped you grow as an individual?
It helped me grow as an individual by becoming more responsible with what I decide to promote/say in public knowing that there is an audience who look up to me for inspiration. It has also helped me remain motivated by getting so much positive feedback from the public.
How do you feel that you influence your audience?
I believe that people become influenced by someone which they could relate to in some way, shape or form, so as a Muslim my main goal is to influence the Muslim community to live a natural, drug-free healthier lifestyle.
I feel I can influence and educate the Muslim community by documenting my fitness lifestyle through my social media platforms.
No Pain No Gain is such a cliché quote, what do you make from these 4 words?
To be honest, I dislike this quote because one doesn’t necessarily need to experience pain to get stronger, for example, you don’t need to feel sore after every gym session in order to grow stronger. I believe in smart work over hard work.
Now on you! What quote motivates you?
‘Do something today which your future self will thank you for.’ – Sean Patrick Flanery
What’s a common misconception about exercise?
• You must use steroids to look ripped and toned.
• Women shouldn’t lift weights because they will look manly
• Carbohydrates are your biggest enemy when you are looking to lose weight
With Ramadhan being so near, what fitness advice would you give?
Remain active this month (quick home workouts/easy light gym sessions)
• Don’t train to grow, train to maintain
• Drink plenty of water from iftaar to suhoor
• Minimum cardio
• Substitute oily/sweet traditional foods with whole foods and high nutritious meals
Something to rattle your brains a bit! Give me your top 3 reasons why Muslim men should work out
1. Revive this forgotten Sunnah of staying fit and strong
2. Become a protector of your wife and family
3. Become a motivation to others
I’m all up for hijabis taking over but we need to ‘balance the weight’ out a bit! I know his tips will definitely be helping me, he basically said carbs aren’t your biggest enemy, so bring on the fries?!
Mohamed Sharif is an inspiration for us all, letting us know that venturing into the unknown and doing what you think you can’t, is possible and valuable. He also recently took part in M.I.N’s campaign with the National Zakat Foundation, one of a host of British Muslim Influencers to promote the charity’s noble endeavours distributing Zakat within the UK.
Comment below what your favourite aspect of fitness is!