With the new year upon us how do you motivate yourself to make a new start? We speak to personal trainer Syeda Hana who despite suffering from rheumatoid arthritis is keen to inspire others to get fit and stay fit.

Hana was first diagnosed with the rheumatoid arthritis at the age of seventeen. Now, five years later, having overcome depression,  Hana is using her Instagram page @syedahana  to motivate other young people who may be going through something similar or worse.

Speaking candidly, Hana tells us why she felt when she was first told about the illness. 

“I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of seventeen.

“It didn’t come as a shock. 

“My mum knew I had it from a young age, but the doctors passed it off as growing pains. 

“One morning I woke up with severe leg pain and I couldn’t move my leg. My mum took me to Accident and Emergency and that’s when they told me that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

“Now that I think about it, the Dr’s could have told me in a more understanding way. I was too young to even comprehend fully what it was and how it was going to affect me.”

Hana admits that her life and mental health was affected adversely after hearing the news, although after much inner reflection she says the condition has helped mould who she is today.

“Sadly, I’m not able to do what most 22 year olds can do.

“When I was first diagnosed, the idea of not living “normally” impacted my mental health and I became quite depressed. 

“I fell into severe depression for a year. I wouldn’t leave the house at all and wasn’t eating properly. 

“I spent my time dwelling on the opportunities I’ve missed out on and actually being quite jealous of people my age living life.

“I forced myself out of the dark pit I was in and decided to go for a personal training qualification.

“I met some amazing people and gained some confidence in teaching the knowledge I learnt. 

“If it wasn’t for this illness, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

“It’s allowed me to really live in the now, do what I can when I can and uplift others who may be going through something similar or more dire.

“The strength I’ve been able to build mentally and physically is unreal. 

“Having this illness has really made me appreciate my health.”

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Despite struggling with her illness, Hana maintains a positive attitude has been integral to managing her condition. She says she relieves stress through training, particularly weight training, calling it her ‘therapy.’

“I try my best to work out two to five times within the week for an hour.

“I listen to my body and only do what it is capable of.

“My routine entails a lot of weighted exercises and only 10-15 minutes of cardio. 

“At one stage I literally couldn’t move my hands or feet and even walking was too much for my knees. 

“I’m grateful to God and my amazing rheumatology nurse for helping me get out of that rut. 
“Weighted exercises really help keep my muscles strong which then supports my bones.

“Having Rheumatoid Arthritis, it’s crucial to keep those muscles developed.” 

Having worked within corporate gyms since completing her Personal Training course, Hana felt it was necessary to open a private gym for women who wanted to train in a female-only environment. 

“I worked in big gyms for around two years and these gyms had female only areas, but they lacked the equipment needed for a woman to seriously train.

“Most of my clients wore a head scarf and it wasn’t ideal for them to be training in an area where a man can just walk in. 

“I created a Mini Private Gym for my clients to be comfortable training in and they could lift some serious weights instead of dumbbells that only go up to 10kg.”

On her Instagram page, Hana wrote how all people face emotional obstacles on their personal journeys. She reveals how she personally overcome that.

“I try to talk to those closest to me, I open up about my feelings. 

“Yes, it makes you feel vulnerable and you may be quite embarrassed that you’ve spoken so openly about what you’re going through but trust me it helps.

“If speaking to people isn’t really your thing it’s good to write your feelings down instead. It lifts a huge weight off your shoulders.”