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Strength training has helped me become more resilient in life

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Hi, I’m Maymah and I’ve been a member at PureGym Leeds Hunslet for 3 years.

After sixth form and before starting university, I found myself in a mental slump. I was pretty much watching Netflix all day every day, so I decided it was a good time to take up a hobby.

I’ve always been thin, and I’ve always wanted to gain weight so I thought it would be a good idea to join the gym where I can focus on both my physical and mental health.

When I’m in the gym, I’m mainly training with weights, as my focus is to build muscle so I can gain weight and improve my strength. I love defying my own expectations and the routine of executing a lift. I think people can often underestimate just how strong females can be so I love it when I surprise people with how much I can lift.

PureGym member Maymah
When I go to the gym especially at times I’m feeling low, I know I’ll leave feeling 100 times better.
PureGym Member Maymah Deadlifting
My biggest achievement to date is getting my deadlift from 50kg to 120kg and a 165kg hip thrust! It has really helped me build my confidence.

The day I heard gyms had to close cause of lockdown was the day after I handed in my dissertation. I was gutted because I was planning to spend more time in the gym and it was just when I had really started to improve my deadlifts. I was looking forward to setting a new personal best.

Over lockdown I was determined to maintain my fitness. Since I don’t have any weights at home, I had to find alternatives at home using items like the sofa and my bed, and my siblings to deadlift with! I also filled items in my backpack and used a rice bag as weights.

Maymah lifting rice bags as weights during lockdown
Although I managed to make do with what I had over lockdown, it was hard to have the same level of focus and commitment as I would in the gym.

My whole routine fell apart. I found myself getting into a routine of watching more TV, eating less healthily, sleeping and waking up late, which left me feeling drained.

However, a few positives came out of lockdown for me. As soon as my mental health began to falter, I refused to let it get to a point where it would get seriously worse. I started my own online store which involves producing adverts, photographs, and customising my website, allowing me to have a creative outlet. I love everything I’ve created so far. I also found out that I successfully graduated university and I got my first job as a radiotherapy practitioner.

When the government announced that gyms could open again, I was so excited.

The night before, I set my alarm, had my gym clothes laid out, gym bag packed, and I was determined to be one of the first ones in!

Maymah performing lying bent over flyes

PureGym have done a great job with their new TrainSafe guidelines. It’s clear where you can work out to maintain safe social distancing, cleaning materials are readily available for you to clean kit before and after use, and staff are a lot more present helping to keep the gym a clean and safe environment.

Since being back in the gym I feel a lot happier and content with life.

I’ve noticed my mood throughout the day is so much better. It has made me realise just how important it is to me. I feel like I'm getting more out of my day now that I've got my daily structure and routine back!

My gym routine right now has been stripped back a little in order to get my body used to my old training regime. I'm working on changing my training goals around a little too so it's all new and exciting stuff and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the year goes!

Maymah performing seating shoulder press

If you’re new to joining the gym and feeling a bit nervous, I’d say that what you’re feeling is normal.

I remember feeling nervous my first time but you realise nobody in the gym knows everything when they start – you learn along the way. 

If it helps, go with a family member, and don’t be afraid to ask staff or personal trainer for help.

Having an idea or some sort of plan of what workout you're going to do is really useful.

PureGym share plenty of workout ideas on their Instagram, in their app, and on their blog if you’re not sure. You can also get a feel of what it's like inside their gyms on their website too. This really helped me so I didn’t feel like I was lost in a new gym. I’d also recommend booking into a free induction at your first visit. A member of staff takes you around the gym and their equipment so you can get familiar with the gym space and how to use the equipment, which is helpful if you’ve never been in a gym before.

Maymah in the PureGym fitness studio

If you’re new to weight training, my top tips would be to:

  • Go light and take time in learning proper form: When I first started, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I first had to learn how to lift and master the basics.
  • Don’t worry about what everyone else is thinking: At first, I felt like people might judge me because I wear a hijab but you soon quickly realise that everyone is focused on themselves and the gym isn’t an intimidating place. The members and staff are friendly and with each workout my confidence grew to the point where the gym is now like my second home.
  • Don’t expect overnight progress: With any fitness goal, it will take some time till you see results. Take things at your own pace and set targets for yourself rather than comparing your journey to someone else’s.
It feels so good to be back in the gym. The gym is my time to prove to nobody but myself what I can do!

Heading back to the gym?

We're so happy to welcome you back! Check out our Back to the Gym guides for plenty of tips to help you ease your way back into the gym and workouts to try!

If you're new to the gym and not sure where to start, don't worry - personal trainers at PureGym are available to help you on your fitness journey. You can also come try out our fitness classes where you will be guided by an instructor.

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