Battered and broken but martial artist wants to beat Covid-19, educate Malaysians on sports

Personal trainer Shareh Nasrullah has been struggling to put food on the table for months following the numerous Movement Control Orders (MCOs).

Just like entertainment, sports is often the first casualty of any restriction, and the last sector to re-open.

The professional fighter vented his frustrations on Facebook recently, adding that he had abided by the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and followed the government’s directives. Yet, he is unable to earn a living.

“It’s not just about me. It’s about all the other personal trainers, martial artists and everyone else involved in sports. They, too, have bills to pay and families to feed,” said Shareh, when contacted by Twentytwo13 recently.

His former boss, Munzir Mustapha, who runs a martial arts gymnasium in Shah Alam, has resorted to printing T-shirts and selling them online as an alternative.

But Shareh said not everyone had the opportunity to do so.

“I know some people will suggest doing things online. Why should they pay me when they can just view it for free on YouTube? What I teach is unique and is better absorbed when it’s face to face.”

But Shareh was quick to admit the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how Malaysia is not a sporting nation, and that sports is not part of the DNA of Malaysians.

“Would people pay to work out even if I carried out classes online? Only a handful, perhaps. People are struggling.

“Those who can still afford it have no qualms spending money on cigarettes but find it difficult to part with their money when it comes to paying gymnasium membership. There’s no continuity, too. People hit the gym because they want to lose weight before they get married, or because of a recent health scare, but it doesn’t last.

“They get all excited for a few months, only for their enthusiasm to die down, and they quit exercising. It’s very common. But in developed countries, exercising is a way of life, a way to keep themselves healthy.

“This is the bigger picture that many choose not to see. It’s not about me and it’s not about today. What if another lockdown takes place, if another pandemic hits. Will we suffer again?”

Shareh once volunteered to do light exercises with Covid-19 patients at quarantine centres to keep them active during their stay there. However, he was told that only a handful were interested in working out.

He added Malaysians don’t recognise the importance of working out and sports.

“If Malaysians had a sporting culture in their DNA, they would know how to better tackle the issues we face, instead of treating the industry like a switch that can be turned on and off in a second.”

Shareh is struggling to find a winning hook against this pandemic. He and his peers have been badly battered and broken by Covid-19, but they are not giving up.

“The one thing we teach our clients is to never give up. I will not give up. It may take a lifetime, but I hope that when my daughter grows up, she will live in a Malaysia that truly appreciates and understands the importance of sports,” he added.