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Lifting & Faith

Sherine Marcelle

Posted on April 11 2020

Lifting & Faith

As a Black Muslim woman, for me its vitally important that I find a way to continuously express myself through sports. Both my faith as a Muslim and the desire to improve my overall health are equally yoked. For years, before I even thought to take my physical health serious, I was a stay at home mother, raising three children, quietly living parts of my life unfulfilled. I remember when I first became Muslim the “idea” of a Muslim woman being athletic which required her to be seen was such a taboo that not only did Muslim communities believed it was inappropriate, society as a whole maintained their prejudices against Muslim women assuming their roles in any realm outside of the Islamic faith wasn’t welcomed. And I have to admit, for a couple decades I blindly believed that my only job was to be a wife and mother; overtime the sedentary lifestyle took a toll on my body and I gained an extra 100lbs in my late 20s, feeling depressed and defeated, I knew I had to do something to change the path I was I living. After many attempts of yo-yo dieting at the age of 34 I was worn out from several attempts with losing weight and regaining weight. It was at that point that accountability was necessary and taking control of my life was dire. I got myself a nutritionist who helped me understand my relationship with food, and that was the game changer. I did lose all of the weight a 100lbs to exact, and I instantly grew a love for running and became a long-distance runner, completing several half marathons in over 11 states, and finishing my first full marathon and triathlon. As a Black Muslim woman, I felt it was imperative that every time I took to the pavement, bike or pool – representation was there to be seen whether I invited it or not; and while representing as a three-times-minority, there was something therapeutic about being active.  

While as a runner, I began strength training to help build my endurance as a runner, but while doing so, I also fell in love with lifting weights; and back in 2015 it became a wish of mine to compete in my first powerlifting meet. During that time, I wasn’t even sure, how or when that would happen but I knew the opportunity would eventually happen. Being physically strong in hijab meant a lot to me and paving the way for the generation of younger Muslim women who are in doubt of expressing themselves in spaces, they believe they can’t be was equally important.  

Oftentimes, there’s a lot of misconceptions surrounding the rights of the Muslim woman and what that entails; however, unbeknownst to many, the Muslim woman is actually to be treated with the highest of honor, respected and free from restrictions that appears misogynistic, and for those who can acknowledge this I am here to demystify those notions. 

Finding my path, my voice, my space, the support within the powerlifting community has been an amazing journey, the feeling is not even comparable to the running community and to be completely honest, I have never felt so empowered as a woman. As almost a middle age, black woman who happens to be noticeably Muslim as the first in the powerlifting world speaks volumes and shatters the stereotypes on both ends of the spectrum. I love representing who I fundamentally am while striving to show my strength on the platform.  

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