This week we are excited to introduce you to Malika Ranshaw, newly graduated from the University in Bath with a degree in Science… Smart Woman.  

Sport for Mali is personal, it’s something that brought her through a period in her life where anxiety and stress had taken hold and she used her time at the gym as a distraction from the world around her, gaining self – belief as a person and growing in confidence.  

Mali is extremely open about her mental health journey and advocates this on her superb Instagram page called Mali.lifts. 

Her page was initially setup to blog her fitness journey so filled with her workouts, she then understood that there would be others out there that may benefit from her experience so has incorporated that into her page with a 360 of everyday life, mental health awareness and positivity posts.   

Mali is superb advocate for mental health awareness and fitness, emphasising how effective and important the relationship can be between them and the potential it can bring.

Hey Mali, welcome to Sportside! How are you?

I’m very well, thank you. I am currently enjoying having finished exams and university. I’ve also just renovated the garden and installed a paddling pool so I’m ready for the U.K heatwave coming.

That’s great to hear. We are absolutely delighted to have you onboard with us here, and I’m sure our readers would love to hear more about your passions. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I have just graduated as MSci Natural Sciences majoring in Chemistry with Physics minor from the University of Bath. I would describe myself as a fun, positive and outgoing person who loves to be surrounded by people. I love going to the gym and helping others improve their confidence by staying active. 

You’re a very active person and that hasn’t changed during lockdown (you’ve been putting your painting skills to good use!). How long have you been interested in fitness and keeping fit?

I started working out during my 2nd year of university after my relationship ended as at first I had a lot of spare time to fill. So, I’ve been training for about 3 years now. Wow, that’s a long time.

Amazing, what was it that made you start to get fit? Was it the physical or the mental benefits, or both?

I was bullied for my looks and body size throughout secondary school hence, I always struggled with body confidence and my self-esteem was incredibly low after the break-up. I became very anxious when surrounded by people as I always felt like I was getting judged. I used the gym as a safe place where I could focus on myself and improve my mental and physical strength. I am so happy with the progress I’ve made mentally and physically. I love feeling strong and having goals to work towards.

You are really open about mental health and the way that keeping fit has allowed you to keep on top of it. Is that something that you’ve been more conscious of because of the lockdown?

Lockdown has definitely made it harder to stay in control of my anxiety. The gyms closed and at first this was very daunting as I knew this would affect my anxiety. I’ve managed to find a few weights to be able to workout at home which has helped a lot. It has been tough, but I know everyone is in the same boat. 

Yeah, it can actually be a really stressful time, and that’s something that has been felt by everyone across the country. Do you think it’s even more important at times like this that we are open about our mental health and the way it is being impacted by lockdown?

It’s so important to talk when you’re struggling with your mental health. It really does help and there are always people around who will listen. A number of my friends came to me for support during lockdown as they had started experiencing anxiety/depression for the first time. I was relieved they had reached out to me and reassured them that talking about it was the best way to start to get help. 

It’s actually really inspiring to hear you talk so openly about it, and it’s something that we should all be comfortable being more open about. What message do you have for young women in particular who may be feeling anxious or aren’t sure where to turn to for support?

Firstly, you should never be ashamed of the negative thoughts and feelings you may be experiencing. There are so many professional services available for you to talk to if you don’t feel comfortable talking to people who know you. Secondly, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel and anxiety comes in waves, sometimes when you least expect it, but the storm will pass! Try to remain positive, positivity always wins.

I’m sure that anyone reading will take note of that message, and it’s absolutely amazing that you are using the platform and following you’ve built to spread that message! Is it something that people contact you a lot about already?

I get asked quite regularly about my uni experience and how my mental health was affected. People want to hear my story which is why I so openly share it.

Speaking of stress, you’ve just finished your degree at Bath Uni. Graduating during all of this must have felt strange?

It was definitely a challenging experience as the lockdown situation made my final year exams more difficult. I had also been looking forward to the end of Uni celebrations for a very long time so it definitely was an anti-climax finishing and being sent my graduation certificate in the post.

It’s always difficult to say what the future holds, but where do you want to take things next? Do you think you’re likely to continue to grow your brand or are you more likely to look for the dreaded 9-5?!

I think I’ll have to start hunting for a job to kickstart my career and start making an income, but I would like to keep growing my brand as well. I’m not sure whether I want a career in fitness or science yet!

Mali, whatever you decide to do, we are confident that you’ll smash it! It’s been a pleasure talking to you, I’m sure our readers will think so too. We can’t wait to work together moving forward!

Thank you, I look forward to building a partnership together!