AUTISM AWARENESS DAY – (Updated from 2021) 2nd April 2022 – Blog

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about Autism and as it’s Autism Awareness Week I wanted to share a personal, perspective on it. My view is quite different from what I thought I knew about Autism 8 years ago when my children were born. Autism is often considered a Disorder or Disability and it certainly can be those things but it’s so much more than that for me and my family. I know Autism can be a difficult subject to discuss as so many people are affected in different ways and it can be very disabling for some. I’ve researched Autism so much over the last few years and it’s been such a wonderful, liberating experience for me. To raise awareness we need to talk more openly about it and understand that it’s not just our children who are autistic but many parents are too and we are all affected in different ways.

Little Shameem

I always had trouble making friends, I have memories as far back as nursery of playing on my own outside while other kids played in groups.  I was described throughout my childhood as ‘excruciatingly shy’, ‘reserved’, and ‘introverted’.  I have strong memories of being in nursery and infants and just being on my own. In Primary School, playtimes were different for me than the other kids. I spent them watching the birds, the airplanes fly over and the other children playing.  I remember hardly ever talking to anyone. (I think I’m making up for my earlier silence now 😂).

One day I watched a big group playing a game in a circle and it looked so much fun. It ignited something in me, a real urge to be part of it.  As nervous as I was, I was so proud, I made it there and I asked if I could play, it had taken months for me to reach this point and I finally did it!  But unfortunately the response was harsher than i could have imagined. “No you can’t play, no P*k!s allowed!”.

That was a long time ago and I can still remember the feeling I got at that moment. The shock, the humiliation, the anger. It’s a real physical pain in my chest too. I don’t want to distract you with the racism though. The story is relevant in that from that day I believed all my differences were because I was a different race from my peers and I know now that was wrong. For others going through similar they may blame the way they look, their weight, their fashion sense and anything else bullies tend to pick on for being physically different.

So how does Autism relate to this?

For me Autism is being a bit different.  Society is set up a certain way and for anyone who sits outside the ‘norm’ and doesn’t conform to social expectations from history to now there has always been labels – the geeks, the nerds, the teachers pet, the disabled, the class clown, the goths, the shy girl/boy, the freaks, the losers, the genius… I could go on but you get the picture. So if I was taking a generalised simplified view of school children for example, we have the regular, cool kids ‘The Neurotypicals’. (NT’s) Their brain is considered ’typical’ as they tend to follow the social expectations. Then we may have the ’Neurodivergent’ (Having a less-typical, cognitive variation), those that don’t quite follow the social norms and expectations and all to different degrees. I class myself as Neurodivergent. I’m Autistic and I have ADHD.  I should point out here I don’t have Autism, it’s who I am. To me and most of the the Autistic community Autism isn’t a health condition or illness and despite the negative connotations brought about by misinformation (that focus on differences being wrong) rather than celebrated it’s important for me to identify proudly as Autistic.

Autistic Struggles

Autistics can struggle with social rules, boundaries, ‘reading the room’. For me that meant as a child I struggled with friendships, social situations, fashion (I just didn’t get it, comfort first every time), and fitting in. To be able to fit in I had to mask, adapt, copy and mimic,  basically not be my natural self. A lot of Autistics do this and it’s especially prevalent in girls and women. Some struggle with social cues and don’t care about it maybe because they have an intense interest in something else which takes priority over societal expectations. That tends to be more common in boys.

I’ve got myself in all kinds of trouble for being too honest.  As I’ve got older I’m understanding more why lies can be necessary especially with having children who just go and ask someone why they smell and if they have a bath at their house  🤦🏻‍♀️ .  Mat regularly reminds me lies can be good when I say I don’t like his cooking and that the chicken is too dry again 😂. 

I have overly sensitive senses. This means I can hear things too loudly especially as a child. Daylight and bright lights can hurt my eyes, I smell things others may not notice, not quite dog standard but can result in nausea (think pregnancy smell). For me personally I have a varied diet and enjoy most foods. But I know from my children and a lot of other Autistics this can be an area of difficulty, tastes, textures and the appearance of food can all cause distress.

I get sensory overload which can result in me ‘shutting down’ (the feeling of no longer being able to cope), being in busy places with lots going on can set that off.  Funfairs are my idea of hell.

If I walk in a room I may notice the radio in the background and find it too distracting to hold a conversation. My brain doesn’t filter out background noise like it does for most people. This is something I notice with my son a lot. Often outdoors he can freeze as he hears a sound of a vehicle in the distance that most of us wouldn’t notice it but for him it’s completely imposing and can often scare him as he knows as it gets closer it will get louder and he’ll have to cover his ears as it hurts.

The Positives

Firstly I see a lot of the negatives as society imposed. It ls so bad that our senses are stronger than others? That some children/adults are non verbal? That we choose truth over politeness. If society was more accepting of differences we would all have our place playing to our strengths instead of trying to be something we are not. However there are real disabilities associated with Autism and there is so much struggle for parents of autistic children like myself. And despite the difficulties we have I focus on the positives. So for me, yes I’m sensitive but that makes me caring, considerate and empathetic. Yes I might be blunt but you’ll know I’ll never lie to you and having no filter makes me hilarious to be around 😂. I genuinely care for people and animals. I will always fight and speak up for what is right and just.

My children are just wonderful. Completely hard work but so brilliant at the same time. Seth has PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidant) with ADHD and struggles with any demands placed upon him but we find ways to help him and reduce demands where possible. Disguising demands is my new skill and he appreciates that I do that for him. He has found a love of music and one day asked for a drum kit despite never having played drums before. He astounded us with his skill and has already taught himself to play and for an 8 year old has some real talent.

Starting my own fitness business with no previous experience I think I’ve proved how creative I am and I continually create, adapt, innovate and drive positive change. I can do the unexpected, take risks and make great things happen. My kids will grow up knowing they are amazing and what they lack in social skills they’ll make up for in humour, creativity and innovative ideas.

It’s thanks to my boys I’ve realised I’m artistic. I decided I would try and draw with them one day and found I have quite a talent. I have never drawn before and had no idea I could!

Female Autism

I’m Autistic and proud of it and don’t want anyone like me to feel shame or stigma. Yes it’s been hard figuring out that all the things I have been ashamed or embarrassed about are just my different brain but there’s lots more people like me. Some of us still blindly going about our lives not knowing that’s why we are the way we are.  I recognise it in many people But often adults have no idea that they could even be autistic as they associate it with childhood disability.

Girls/Women are massively under diagnosed yet it’s very likely there is as many of us as there are male autistics. They can mask so well at school teachers don’t see it, they tend to do enough to look like they are coping even when they are riddled with anxiety. The diagnostic criteria has been traditionally set up for males and for this reason many of the female traits are disregarded. There is still so much work to do to change this and it’s important it does change. A diagnosis is not necessary for most. As an adult you can diagnose yourself if you believe you are Autistic you very likely are.

The problem with women not realising they are autistic is that they often get misdiagnosed with anxiety and depression. Who wouldn’t be anxious going to the supermarket with all the sensory overload it can present to us! Bright lights, too many people, constant noise, too choices to make etc. Our brains are just not wired to cope with that. It can be overwhelming, yet that means I’m failing and I must be broken when in fact there’s many of us suffering sensory overload every day. Oh how I love online shopping!

Understanding ourselves can make us feel less like failures in this world because we might be scared to go out or that we are terrified of certain social situations where others seems so comfortable. Understanding that there are so many people who feel the same really helps which is why I speak up about it. We can take control by understanding it isn’t us that are broken but society, and the unrealistic, unfair demands it places upon us. We should all be who we are without pretending we’re ok when we feel awkward. Society needs to change to make the world comfortable for all of us, not just the ones who speak the loudest.

For all the difficulties there might be fitting in a society not designed for us there’s lots about us to celebrate too. I truly believe that for every part our brain that seems it’s lacking, there’s another part that’s making up for it and we should find it, embrace it, work with it, nourish it and thrive.

If anyone has read this post and can relate please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. Also please feel free to leave comments on this post. Thanks for reading, Shameem x

More Positives associated with Autism

Attention to detail • Thoroughness • Accuracy Deep focus • Concentration • Freedom from distraction • Observational skills • Listen, look, learn approach • Fact finding Absorb and retain facts • Excellent long term memory • Superior recall Visual skills • Visual learning and recall • Detail-focussed Expertise • In-depth knowledge • High level of skills Methodical approach • Analytical • Spotting patterns, repetition Novel approaches • Unique thought processes • Innovative solutions • Creativity • Distinctive imagination • Expression of ideas •Tenacity and resilience • Determination • Challenge opinions Integrity • Honesty, loyalty, Commitment.

Moky at home – Success!

Luckily for me I did have foresight that home workouts would become more popular as I had already set up before Covid hit. I had no idea at the time Covid would bring an abrupt end to my community classes but I’m pleased I adapted to online so easily. For years people had been asking me to do it so they could access Moky workouts wherever they were and at times to suit them and I’m relieved I listened and finally got round to doing it.  

The transition from community classes to delivering them from my home ‘Moky room” in front of a camera was surprisingly easy.  I’m fortunate Mat is such a “techie” guy and has created a brilliant platform for us. What was unexpected for me is that I got the same buzz and enjoyment at home as I did from the community classes, and over a year later I still do. Of course I miss the faces, the chat, the whoops, the laughs. There’s so much fun in being together, but online I have found that with the regular contact through the website and Facebook we can still have the laughs and chat, just in a different way. With Mat joining me at the sessions as well there’s never a shortage of banter 😂. We’re even introducing guests in our Moky room now and hopefully will have more public events when the time is right.

It wasn’t long into Lockdown 1 I became aware a lot of people loved this new way of working out with many telling me they would now stick to it over community as it’s so much more convenient. They can fit it around the kids, work, home life and don’t have to stick to a rigid time like with the community classes. I know how tough it is balancing work and kids then add in fitness/ ‘me time’ well it just feels impossible. I’m pleased busy mums are getting the full benefit of now. No babysitters needed , in fact the kids can join in too! We can also dip in and out when needed. Life can get in the way but it’s so easy to come back to when you’re online as you can pick up where you left off or even go back and try the beginner playlists if it’s been that long!

We’ve welcomed subscribers from all over the UK , as well as abroad which is fantastic. I love it when I see our subscribers from outside the UK joining a Live session, it’s incredible to think how many more people we are reaching! Then there has been the increase in subscribers from those who were too nervous to come to a class. Although I can do my Moky thing and do it confidently, it doesn’t mean that I don’t know that anxiety fuelled feeling of stepping into a fitness class for the first time. You know where it feels that everyone else knows each other and what they are doing and you feel like the odd one out. There’s those with insecurities about their weight and fitness levels who wouldn’t want to attend a class with others. Since my Autism blog post I have received many messages from people who can relate, particularly around the social anxiety of fitness classes so I’m thrilled is providing workouts without the social anxieties. started before Covid and it will continue. I have come to realise everyone has a unique home environment and many of those have changed with home working so it’s impossible to time classes to suit everyone. Online I now choose times for my Lives that suits my family life and pop them straight on the website afterwards for people to do at times to suit them. For some that might be 6am, for others mid morning or late evening. Thats the beauty of it, whatever time, night and day it’s there ready to go.

The hardest part of fitness at home for people is motivating themselves to do it.  I’ll be honest I didn’t expect to see so many people doing it as regularly as they are but it’s been amazing to see how many people are logging on everyday and just getting on with it. It always inspires me. Moky is my creation and my baby but without the participants it wouldn’t be the wonderful thing is has become.

I remember when I had my boys and with it being a full term twin pregnancy and add in my addiction to chocolate biscuits I gained a lot of weight and lost a lot of confidence. I began working out at home when the boys napped and over time built up my fitness and strength and lost the weight (I did have to give up the biscuits too). Ultimately if we want it enough we can make it happen. We can enjoy it too and although I was so scared at first it’s amazing how every day I had some progression and it spurred me on to keep going. I didn’t need a class to do it, just my living room and some determination and discipline.

For many, has become a sanity saver, it’s created consistency when it was needed most and it’s given participants an opportunity to focus on their own fitness and progression rather than just ticking a box that they attended a class this week. They are achieving levels of fitness they never really thought about before, there’s more opportunity to challenge themselves and make the workouts more personalised for them and there’s more time to workout without the travel so people are working out more than before.

For me, with less time travelling to classes I’m now able to spend time continuing my fitness education and my favourite thing of all- creating! I’m loving coming up with new things to add to the workouts. Our latest addition we’re introducing is resistance bands and foam rollers. Foam rollers and resistance bands can be bought cheap and easily stored at home so it’s nice and convenient without the need of bulky equipment.  

Fitness has to be enjoyable for us to keep with it and I know that’s where I excel, there is no such thing as a boring workout at Moky. It’s the only exercise I do because I am one of those people who dislike the gym and ‘no pain no gain’ attitudes, it puts me off. Although I do love to push myself it only works for me with my ‘Moky formula’ and I know there’s plenty more like me who prefer to exercise in this way. Of course we also have subscribers who keep themselves fit in other ways but also join us regularly. We’re a great mix of people  taking care of our physical fitness and the mental benefits that come with it and I’d like to thank everyone who takes part.

I love getting the emails and contact from clients about how Moky at home is working out for them so if you’re reading this and have been taking part at feel free to leave a comment so I know how you’re getting on.

For anyone who doesn’t subscribe please do try our one week free trial and try all the sessions if you can fit them all in. It’s about making it work for you and your life. Whether you do it alongside other fitness activities or you’re a complete beginner wanting to build confidence, we’ve got something to suit everyone.

March 2021 Update

I’ve had a lot of enquiries lately about the return to community classes so I thought I’d use my blog as an opportunity to let everyone know the latest news. Since Lockdown One we’ve been doing Live classes online and we’ve really enjoyed growing the offering of programmes and community on  Thank you to everyone who’s joined us and continues to be a part of this amazing online community!

2020/21 has been very difficult for everyone and I personally have found it hard to balance the ongoing commitments from Moky with family life. This is mostly due to the health diagnosis for all members of my family in the past year which now demands far more of my attention.  I’m having ongoing investigations for problems with my own health and as a result I am having to scale back significantly on my pre-covid workload. Sadly that means that it’s not possible for me to consider coming back to community classes in the near future.  I appreciate this will be as disappointing to you as it is for me.

I’ve been doing Moky community classes for 10 years and every single class has had that Moky magic that gives you goose bumps and I’ve missed seeing all the wonderful sweaty smiles in person this year thats for sure. Unfortunately my health won’t allow me to carry on the same agenda that I used to and my children need me more at home. I’m hopeful that in future I’ll be able to return in some form to community classes, however at present I am unable to commit to a timescale.

Online Classes will, of course, continue on with a revised approach to timetables to ensure all programmes are kept up-to-date.  Alongside the lives we also have the amazing back catalogue for you to choose from. We’re really excited to have some great new ideas in development for including expanding on our mat based workouts. One thing you can be sure of we will help keep you energised, motivated and make you fitter and stronger. Just fit us in around your lifestyle so you never have to miss your Moky fix!

I look forward to ‘seeing you’ online!

Shameem xx

Back Care in Winter

It was easy to choose this weeks blog topic as so many people at the moment are suffering with injuries/pains resulting from the cooler weather. You may have noticed that you tend to get more aches and pains in winter. Now as a fitness instructor I always ensure we get a good safe warm up before we exercise. I also remind people that on the ‘cool down’ it’s important to not get cold. Why? well because our muscles don’t like it, it makes them tight. The tightness increases the chance of injury as well as causing pain and discomfort.

I am more likely to injure myself in my sleep than I am doing my toughest workout MokyX. Sounds ridiculous but very true and will likely apply to you too. When we exercise we increase our blood flow to the muscles, tendons and ligaments which warms them and prevents them being stiff and therefore less predisposed to injury.

Now compare that, to when we sleep. We don’t move, so our muscles get tight. Then add in winter temperatures, it’s much cooler and don’t our muscles know it? All it takes is for us to turn over in bed and the already stiff back muscles can really tighten up and cause pain. Same when we get out of bed or any other sudden movement in the morning before we are fully warmed up (Putting on socks, shoes, picking something up from the floor).

So what precautions can we take to avoid injury and pain?

If you have a heating system that kicks in below a certain temp, use it! Yes it costs money to heat while you sleep but when you’re in agonising back pain for days or even weeks you’ll wish you did. Wear PJ’s and tuck your top into your pants so the warm air can stay trapped, protecting your back muscles. Use a heated blanket/hot water bottle/wheat pack if you can. Keep an eye on the weather forecast for night time temperatures so you can be prepared. It can easily catch us out, especially with our British climate

Adapting Daily activities for good Back Care

Putting on socks and shoes is a common way to hurt our back in winter. Try putting your shoes on without leaning forwards. Sit down and bring your knee up to your chest and rest your foot on the seat. For socks use your bed. Lie back on your bed and bring your legs up towards your chest and put your socks on without lifting your back up from the bed. It’s so much less strain on the back and can prevent so much pain.

Don’t bend over to reach the floor for things. Instead of bending imagine just dropping your tailbone to the floor in a straight line down, bend both knees and don’t lean forwards.

Set your heating on a timer so it’s warm in any rooms you are in first thing in the morning.

Generally try to be more conscious of the temperature so you are well prepared and dressed for it. Wear layers when going out in the cold. Keep your back extra snug (tuck in your tops, wear a vest or bodysuit)

And if you do find yourself in the unfortunate situation of considerable pain from a tight/stiff back look after it. Take pain relief right away, don’t be a martyr, the pain relief will mean you aren’t making the problem worse by holding yourself more stiffly. Try to keep warm and use heat on your back to help the blood flow and reduce tightness. Avoid bending and lifting but do keep mobile. Sitting or lying will not help a stiff back. Gentle walks will help loosen it. I even did my morning Zest today after waking up in agony from turning over in bed last night. It sorted me out! The stiffness has eased up considerably, I’m not bending though, the kids and Mat will have to do all the housework this weekend! 😂

I will be doing a back care session for so subscribers please look out for that.

Thanks for reading and please leave some feedback, I’d like my blog to be interactive so I can be as helpful as possible 😊

5 Steps to keep up your Workouts

Hi, Shameem here, Creator of Moky and my home workout website. Welcome to my first blog post – Shameem Shares. Here I want to share with you my thoughts and advice on fitness, well-being and health. Today for my first post I’ll start with steps to keep up your workouts.

Thinking about getting fit and knowing where to start can be overwhelming. But if you’re reading this you may already be a member of and have access to all my workouts. But having access isn’t enough. It’s going to take some planning and discipline on your part. So here’s where to start.

Step 1

Have a goal in mind first. For most people this may start with the aim of getting fitter or stronger (or both). Now to truly achieve this goal we need to make it S.M.A.R.T.

For it to be Specific, it needs to be more than “I want to get Fitter”. The 8 Week Moky Challenge is a great way to help with that. Commit to doing 3 or more classes a week for 8 weeks and there you have your SMART goal. It’s specific, measurable and achievable. With our range of workouts to choose from and available any time day or night, it can fit around you. You should be able to squeeze in 3 x 30 minute sessions even on your busiest weeks. It’s realistic and it has a timescale. After 8 weeks we expect you to notice considerable strength and fitness improvements. We recommend taking photos and measurements at the start, then you can see the progress in pictures and numbers (measurable).

Step 2

Now you’ve got your SMART goal, make it easy to do. Make sure your workout space is always ready for you so it doesn’t delay you getting started. Get the best stream you can of the workouts, if you can get it on the TV even better. Stream using a Firestick or Chromecast or your TV browser. Put your workout gear on early (making sure you keep a washed, dried supply ready for your next workout). My washing machine never stops! All these things really help to get that workout done.

Step 3

Schedule in your workouts at the start of each week. Pick the days you know it will be easiest for you with least possible distractions. If you keep an electronic diary put it on there with reminders on it. Then stick to the times you schedule. So even if you don’t feel like it you do it anyway. This is the biggest mistake people can make. They don’t feel like it so they skip it and before you know it they never feel like it. I often don’t ‘feel like it’. Most days I’m exhausted by the evening after a long day in the office then I have the kids to look after, prepare meals, clean, laundry etc. So by 6.30pm I’m ready for a lie down. But I put on my workout gear and I get on with it and the truth is the minute I start I completely forget I felt tired and I love it.

Step 4

Mix up your workouts and use your time wisely. There’s so many to choose from and we want you to be the fittest, strongest version of yourself you can so we offer lots of variety so you’ll never get bored. If you’re short on time do 20 minutes HIIT, even a 15 minute HIIT workout can give you great fitness benefits so start a MokyHIIT or X session to get maximum return on your time.

Step 5

This is the biggie. Don’t give up! Failures will happen, this is life, it never runs smooth. There will always be something that pops up unexpectedly and when that happens, workouts might not take priority. However, if it’s one bad day, it need not turn into a bad week and one bad week need not turn into 8 bad weeks. If things don’t go to plan, don’t beat yourself up, it doesn’t achieve anything. Bounce back! And keep bouncing back because ultimately the comeback is always stronger than the setback!