In 2015, Fatima started her health and fitness journey; beginning to eat clean and work out. After the birth of her second child, she bumped into professional boxer, Michael Zerafa at her local gym.
‘Michael asked me if I needed some help in the gym, so, I explained that I had multiple sclerosis. Michael said he could help me with my training.
'Since then, he has been training me once a week for the last 3 or 4 months. We have been doing balance, coordination, and strength work. I’ve never worked so hard in my life,’ Fatima says.
Research shows exercises that include big, explosive movements along with strengthening and cardio-aerobic drills (such as boxing) have been extremely beneficial to people with neurological conditions such as MS and Parkinson’s.
This works by training and rewiring the brain to improve impaired movements. Studies on boxing for neuro conditions have reported improvements to balance, walking speed and quality, strength, social connection and a reduction in overall falls risk.
‘After my pregnancies, I felt I struggled with weakness again and Michael really helped me to address these weaknesses through training,’
In 2012, Fatima was a young, ambitious newlywed with big dreams. Despite feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, she was determined to build a career for herself and have it all.
‘I was 21 at the time and working in retail management. I realised I was constantly dropping things and it was too painful to hold things. I eventually saw a doctor and was diagnosed with carpal tunnel,’ Fatima says.
‘My physiotherapist helped me with pain management. I was feeling constant pins and needles around my head, tongue, back and spine. I could also feel and hear electric buzzing running through my spine. Then one day I woke up with my spine feeling locked.
‘I struggled to bend forward. So, I rolled out of bed and threw myself off the edge. I felt my spine vibrating with pain.
'My movements were restricted and I didn’t feel right. I was eventually sent home from the hospital with the diagnosis of a pinched nerve.’
Fatima continued to experience symptoms, with no clear explanation about why this was happening. She continued to battle fatigue and at one point lost feeling in and use of one of her legs. She was told she had an infection and given antibiotics.
After a long road to diagnosis, Fatima was eventually told she had Relapsing Remitting MS in 2013.
‘I was misdiagnosed one too many times and felt sick and tired of being sick and tired. But this meant it wasn’t all just in my head and something wasn’t right.
‘After my diagnosis, I started using medication that helped me regain the use of my leg and walk properly again. I felt good and became clinically stable.’
This was the point where Fatima became motivated to take control of her health.
‘Since we started working together, Michael has constantly challenged and motivated me. He has helped me feel stronger and to move easier in my everyday life. I currently train 3 times a week and can now walk, run and pick up my kids with ease. My pain levels have reduced and I feel so much happier.’