The Derby doctor helping to get her Islamic community active
Derby Doctor Alia Syed plays an increasingly important role in her community – and not just professionally as a practitioner of prophetic medicine. After finding that some patients at her charitable clinic were unable to find a suitable outlet to get more exercise, as she often prescribed, she took the matter into her own hands by running two specific weekly sessions to cater for those needs.
The importance of exercise in prophetic medicine
"I treat my patients according to Islamic beliefs – prophetic medicine – and adopt a holistic approach, paying particular attention to the importance of diet and exercise.
"I give people a plan, which frequently includes a detox, has a diet prepared for them and details how much exercise they should be getting.
"But the fact is that people can often shy away from exercise and say they don't know where to go to do it, particularly women, so about two years ago, because I like to keep fit myself, I set up my own sessions to help people along.
Faith-based women-only exercise
The 360 Health Club venue.
"Now I get those who have been patients at the charitable clinic I run – I tell them I can help them put the plan I have put together into practice – as well as those from the wider community coming along.
"I hold the first of my two weekly sessions on Mondays from 10am to 12noon, which is an exercise and therapy session held at the Ikhlas Centre in Normanton.
"The second session is on Wednesdays from 1pm to 3pm at the 360 Health Club on the other side of Normanton – a women-only gym. The first hour is about exercise and then the second hour we do meditation and relaxation, with all of it rooted in the Islamic faith.
Reaching those who don't normally do the gym
"It appeals because it is connected to the faith and it is in an environment that appeals to them, meaning I can reach out to those who would not normally come to the gym.
"The exercise we do includes things such as yoga and pilates – things that everyone can handle – and people are more than welcome to come in traditional dress.
"It targets the more elderly ladies and also the mums, with the times we run sessions designed to fit in around the family commitments that they have.
Very relaxed - people come when they can
"It's always a challenge to get people to come out, particularly in the winter months when the weather is bad, but it's very relaxed and people are welcome to come along when they can – I will still be doing it whether there are lots of people or just one.
"We usually get around 20 to 30 for a session and the feedback has been very good, with people saying to me that they feel great for having done it and wanting to do more sessions.
Valuing exercise and wellbeing
"From my point of view it is my way of giving something back to the community and hopefully get people valuing exercise and wellbeing, even though it can be hard to fit in around my work as I'm also a lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, as well as working at the clinic and doing a slot of Radio Ikhlas.
"I find it very rewarding to give up my time – I wouldn't do it otherwise – and it's good to know I am doing my bit to make people that bit healthier and feeling better about themselves."