6 October, 2023

No matter where you are on your exercise journey, you will reach a point where you hit a wall.

This could be a lack of desired progress or an injury. But sometimes, climbing that wall might end up becoming your biggest breakthrough. Especially when it comes to reducing your risk of breast cancer. 

Siddrah Aslam took up indoor rock climbing in her early 20s after being invited along to a session by a friend and she never looked back. In the years since Siddrah founded the inclusive indoor climbing club ClimbMuz. The lack of all-female exercise spaces has historically been an obstacle to women from the Muslim community taking part in physical activity. Siddrah is optimistic that ClimbMuz will make breast cancer prevention through exercise a more obtainable reality. 

“You could have never put my name and sport in the same sentence when I was growing up. I was that kid in the class who absolutely hated P.E. and did everything I could to get out of lessons. So, it’s ironic that I’ve gone on to start my own climbing club. 

“I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea when my friend told me to come along with them. I’m naturally clumsy and it isn’t uncommon for me to trip when running. When you combine that with my fear of heights, it’s easy to understand why I hesitated. To my surprise, I ended up falling in love with climbing. It felt so good to finally find an activity that spoke to me. I became completely hooked! 

“I went out and bought some climbing trainers and slowly, but consistently began my climbing journey.  

“Over time I noticed a massive improvement in my hand-eye-coordination and core strength. It’s an activity that requires you to use every single part of your body. You also engage muscles in areas of your body that you often neglect. (e.g. back, shoulders, wrists, etc). The more you climb, the stronger you get. There’s a misconception that you need a lot of upper-body strength to climb, but you actually push up from your legs.  

“A big part of my decision to take up more physical activity was to try and lower my risk of being diagnosed with some of the long running-health issues in my family. As well as diabetes being prevalent in my family, my mother, aunty, and grandmother all had breast cancer.  

“Some things are genetic and unavoidable, but I do believe that living a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk significantly.  

“I think that’s why it pained me not to see more women taking part. There are so many mental and physical health benefits to be gained from climbing but a lot of the spaces were very male-dominated. 

“So in 2021 I decided to take matters into my own hands and founded my own climbing club. ClimbMuz has helped to make climbing more accessible for Muslim women who may have felt alienated. It’s all about inclusivity. We don’t judge anyone on how religious they are, we just want women to experience the joy and benefits of climbing. 

“To this day I still have a huge fear of heights and falling, and wouldn’t consider myself to be a high-grade climber. But it’s not about who can climb the highest, it’s about being in tune with your body and conquering the walls that are in front of you. 

If you were inspired by Siddrah’s story, check out ClimbMuz for more information on her classes. 

Start your breast cancer prevention journey today by taking our prevention quiz. 

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