A FITNESS coach has told how seeing the emotional toll of lockdown inspired her to tackle health inequalities in Bradford.

Drawing inspiration from the Arabic word ‘Nafs’, simply meaning soul, ego, psyche and mind, Nadera Amini wanted to show women, girls and children the true meaning of what it means to be healthy and how to fight anxiety.

When lockdown was first announced, the lead coach at NAFS Fitness had received many messages from tired mums who were struggling to cope.

They expressed feelings of isolation with some finding it hard to get dressed on a morning or cope with anxiety around coronavirus.

“I thought, what can I do?,” Nadera said.

What started out as regular phone calls, daily uplifting messages and family fitness activities turned into Zoom sessions and covid-secure outdoor classes.

From Zumba and Bhangra dancing in boxes to yoga, Nadera helped women soothe their mind, learn healthier recipes and engage in gentle exercise.

More than 300 women and girls took part in the sessions, which later developed into family bubbles of netball, football and 'mother daughter' classes.

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When Ramadan and Eid came around, Nadera hosted more spiritual sessions to ease lockdown pain.

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus, Nadera said: "We had to evaluate with the BAME community, why are they struggling? Why they're in isolation? Why are they feeling stuck?

"The community told us what they wanted. That's why we started our 'mother daughter' sessions. We were allowed family bubbles.

“In the beginning, two or three weeks when it became reality that everybody has to sit at home, some of the BAME mothers are the lifeblood of the family, it was too much.

“Sometimes mums reported back to us saying instead of cooking three meals a day they were cooking 10 meals a day to get rid of boredom. There was nothing to do.

“That was a very hard time. That was the time, especially Mums, felt lost. We said this is our responsibility to get the community active again.

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"It doesn’t matter how you look, it’s just going to get back into our wellbeing. They said when we do the exercise we don’t feel like eating rubbish or we do something different with the family. They tend to make better choices.

"What I definitely have learnt is there’s a lot of privilege for some girls and not privilege for other girls.

"In the beginning we asked for £2, kids free. Even for those families, they came back saying they don’t have anything. They said we have two families to run, our families in England but our families back at home. Most of the times the families were working and some of it was sent back home. They tend to look after their other family.

"Some of the women said, ‘We don’t want to go in the parks, dancing there or running there, as we don’t want to take our Hijaab off’.

"It was a private area. It was brilliant.

"The women really appreciated it. They felt like coming to our session was an outing. It was sisterhood, a community. It inspired and empowered.

"Refugees had nobody to turn to, we also had them, that was so important. The migrants and refugees, they're now feeling like they belong to a community.

“We had people coming all the way from BD20 and Pudsey.

"We are a baby. We will grow together like a lotus flower opens on the petals. We have to develop our petals open with our mind and our abilities."

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