Nesrine Dally is a Nike trainer and coach. She made history as Britain’s first hijab-wearing Muay Thai fighter to compete in Thailand. Here, Nesrine shares her inspiring story…
Nesrine’s early passion for sport
‘I grew up with a burning passion for all sports, and I swam for my borough – always pushing myself physically to see how far or fast I could go. In my teenage years, being fit gave me confidence, an outlet and a strong sense of who I was, and I’m just as passionate about exercise now as little eight-year-old Nez was. I still want to race, run, compete and regularly test my physical and mental limits.
‘Fitness as a career was the only choice for me. I started personal training 14 years ago while studying for my sports science degree at university, and I still love helping others to find confidence, pick up new skills and love their bodies for the amazing things they can achieve – it’s the best part of what I do!
‘I took up Muay Thai over a decade ago when none of my university clubs interested me. I immediately fell in love with the sport’s culture, traditions, respect and discipline, not to mention how physically demanding it is – and I haven’t stopped since. I didn’t face any barriers back then, despite being one of the only women in the gym; they came later when I started wearing a hijab.
Nesrine Dally on being a Muslim woman in sport
‘Finding my feet as a Muslim woman in the world of sport took a long time. The fitness industry has long lacked diversity and the lack of representation is damaging. I’ve always felt confident in my ability as a coach, but I haven’t always felt included or represented. The truth is, there aren’t many women who look like me on the front of fitness magazines and that means young women give up or don’t even try because they don’t see themselves being represented in certain spaces. As the saying goes, you can’t be what you can’t see. My mission now is to use my platform to pave the way for all women to pursue sport.
‘Getting back in the ring as Britain’s first hijab-wearing fighter after five years off from competing represented so much to me. I was trying to find my path, and it took so much courage, self-belief and determination to return. But I also knew that I was opening a door for many women to follow in my footsteps and fight for their dreams. We need to challenge society’s preconceived ideas about women (and Muslim women) in sport. We belong in sport and we can, and will, be anything we want to be.’
Nesrine Dally on TRX Let’s Move campaign
‘TRX’s campaign represents everything I am about – inclusive fitness. It’s a message that inspires and includes everyone. Fitness means something different to everyone and we all choose to express that differently with how we choose to move. That’s why I love the fact that TRX says “there are no rules to how you move, so long as it moves you”, regardless of your age, gender, size or any other factors. It’s a powerful message because health and fitness is for everybody.’ For more information, visit TRX Training.