My Muslim Mums in Business series focus’s on inspirational Muslim women, who are balancing the art of motherhood along with running businesses.
Please introduce yourself and your business.
I am Maryam, and I am a fully-qualified personal trainer and Hatton boxing instructor based in Reading, UK. I offer individualised coaching, in person and online, that supports women to lose weight and develop a healthy, positive relationship with food. As a mother, I understand how difficult it can be to maintain a fitness program and lose weight; as a qualified fitness professional, I have the knowledge and skills to support clients to overcome the physical and psychological barriers to weight loss.
I founded Lift Everest in 2018 to provide a much-needed platform where women can access recent, relevant, and accurate information on a broad range of fitness topics. I blog on all aspects of exercise and nutrition as well as offer my 1-1 personal training services and run weekly boxing classes for women.
What makes your business different from your competitors?
I promote weight-lifting as a way to lose weight, gain strength and overcome mental challenges. I believe weight training combined with healthy eating is the recipe for a healthy body and mind. This is what differentiates me with my competitors – the focus on incorporating heavy lifting into workout routines and explaining to my clients why it won’t automatically make you bulky. The fear of looking masculine is deeply rooted within us and it is this fear that I work to overcome within our community.
What inspired you to start working from home? Did anyone in particular inspire you?
I wanted to make a change within the Muslim community but I also wanted to be present to raise my son. Fitness is a huge passion of mine and with the obesity levels rising globally I turned my passion into a career. Leaving my son to work at the gym was not something I wanted to sacrifice so I decided I would make it work from home and now I truly believe I have the best of both worlds. My sister, Sumaiya, has been a huge inspiration in my life. She started her business at the age of 18 after finishing her Alevels and now, after 12 years, a degree, a masters, marriage and 2 children later she defied the odds and made her company hugely successful. She is my true inspiration, she taught me to find solutions and not excuses. She is the reason I am where I am today.
Is your family supportive of you being a working mother?
Yes, very supportive. My husband, parents and sisters have been supporting me since the very beginning and I am eternally grateful for their continuous support in what I do. Being part of the south-Asian culture, personal training isn’t a usual career path for women especially with children but I am glad my family understand the importance of looking after our health and thus support me when I try to help others become healthier and fitter.
What are the main challenges you face as a mum and an entrepreneur?
The main challenge I have faced as a mum and an entrepreneur is balancing the work-family life. Working from home – in a non-work environment means it can be difficult to focus and actually get work done when my son is awake. I therefore work before he wakes up, when he naps or after he sleeps. I easily get distracted working when he is awake as I am eager to watch him developing through the toddler stage. He happily plays by himself for hours so I will try to get some work done when he is awake as well – easier said than done!
Describe a typical working day. Are there specific times in the day that you work on your business?
I wake up an hour before my son to pray Fajr and prepare for my personal training sessions. During my son’s nap (10am-12pm) I have two clients who I train or I plan sessions. After my son sleeps at 7pm, I work till 9.30pm either blogging, conducting training sessions or preparing for the sessions. On the weekend I instruct boxing classes and have more time for training clients 1-1 as my husband is off work.
What are the pros and cons about being a working mum from home?
One of the pros of being a working mum from home is raising my son and watching him grow. I would hate to miss any important milestones and working from home provides me with flexible working hours. Working from home also means I can stay on top of the housework which can be a real struggle for mums who work outside of home. I do the housework whilst my son helps me or plays although I do have to admit – my cooking is pretty basic which makes things a lot easier.
One of the cons of being a working mum from home is lacking the motivation to work because I’m not in a working environment. It’s easy to sometimes take the day off when I have no bookings for that day but I have to remind myself to keep pushing forward.
On your toughest days, what helps keep you motivated?
My clients help me going! Just the thought of me helping someone shed a few extra pounds and the health benefits people receive when they follow my workouts or meal plans really motivate and inspire me to carry on doing what I’m doing. Knowing that I am working towards helping people make healthier choices and watching them transform into happier individuals pushes me to continue on the toughest of days.
Where would you like to see your business in the future?
In the future, I plan to launch online weight-loss programmes so I can help a wider amount of people loss weight. I plan to make these affordable so most people can access them as some of the current ones out there can be a little pricey. I would also like to open a women only gym as this is currently not available in my area – females will be able to exercise freely and take off their headscarves.
What advice would you give to mums considering taking the step of being a working mum?
Find your passion, make sure there’s a niche for it and go for it! Know that it will be a long journey with lots of obstacles but the rewards are huge! Do what you love and don’t let anyone stop you! Plan in advance on how you are going to work around the children – stick to the schedule but make sure you take breaks and give yourself a holiday too. As working mums, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to work long hours mimicking a 9-5 schedule but we need to remind ourselves that we are raising beautiful little humans too which is incredible! Work hard, make lots of supplications to God and may blessings be with you as you take your first steps as a working mum!
If you are a muslim mum with a business and would like to feature then drop me a message in sha Allah.