Nesrine Dally is a fitness trainer, Muay Thai athlete, coach, mother and wife residing in London. Nesrine has revolutionised the Muay Thai boxing scene; last year she paved the way for women of faith in combative sports, becoming Britain’s first hijabi Muay Thai athlete to compete in Thailand. The multifaceted fighter is set on a mission to change the industry, reinventing the definition of strong. In an interview with GraziaME, Nesrine revealed her love for the sport, her inspiration and some tips for women looking to enter the sports industry.

“I got into Muay Thai when I was in my second year of University studying Sports Science. Totally underwhelmed by the sports available to me at the University and having played sports competitively my whole life, I was so desperate for something new. I knew I always loved boxing but I wanted to try a martial art that would involve my entire body. I randomly turned up at Muay Thai gym and honestly, it was love at first punch!”

When asked about the impediments she faced as a hijabi in the sporting field, she claimed, “there simply has never been a space for us as hijabis. So many sports have actually banned women from competing in a hijab. Can you imagine not being able to do the sport you love because of how you chose to practice your faith? A few years ago, you couldn’t even compete in Muay Thai stadiums with a hijab. There are so many barriers young women face that put them off sports, and not having accommodating sportswear is one. It wasn’t till 2017 that Nike made the first-ever sports hijab for Muslim women. Until then many women like myself had nothing appropriate to compete in sports or even go to the gym and feel comfortable in.”

Nesrine also suggested, for people who have just started out, “if you’re too intimidated to go to the gym, I recommend starting with home workouts first. With digital online fitness on the rise, it’s so easy to get moving anywhere. Whether you sign up for online personal training and coaching or an online fitness community for classes, there is so much out there that can suit your lifestyle.”

Nesrine shares the ultimate tips for training in warmer climate:

1. Train During Cooler Times: “If possible, try to train first thing in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler.

2. Bring a Cool Towel: “Bring a cool towel to training to help keep your core temperature down.”

3. Hydrate: “Ensure you carry a refillable water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day. It’s a good idea to go to your session well hydrated so that you can perform at your best. If you have a sweaty session, take some electrolytes after to rebalance the salts lost from sweating.”

4. Walk More: “Although walking is underrated, it has a huge impact on your total daily expenditure.”

5. At-Home workouts: “Working out at home is here to stay, and that also applies to countries with extreme heatwaves as well. Remote fitness is something we’ve incorporated into our routines; it’s about getting it done efficiently. You also can’t forget remote nutrition – I use a tool called Lumen, which tells me if I’m burning fats or carbs and it really helps me keep a well-balanced metabolism.”

Additionally, if learning about your nutrition is extremely important as well. Nesrine shares, “just mixing up your carb intake can have a big impact – for example, some days doing low-carb and high-intensity exercise, and other days doing higher carb and longer exercise sessions to burn through the carb stores.”

Ultimately, for women who want to get into the industry and feel as though wearing a hijab is an impediment, Nesrine recommends that “you just do it! Don’t be nervous about going to the gym, everyone was once a first-timer. And take the journey one step at a time. The learning never stops, I have been doing it for 12 years and still continue to learn something new every time I train. Ultimately that is what keeps you loving it because you are constantly learning, growing and evolving.”