There's a wise saying that goes, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," and that is exactly what Shammi Nasrin did when she joined the gym and started weight training to deal with some health issues she started picking up.
A mother of three, Shammi finished third in the 63kg category of weightlifting, in a contest organised by the Bangladesh Powerlifting Association in 2020.
The 46-year-old became almost an overnight sensation when the Bangladesh Powerlifting Association's page gave a post with her picture from that competition on their Facebook page.
A story of a mother, a woman, a Bangladeshi breaking social norms and taboos to show that women can be powerful and strong, in more ways than one, drew everyone's attention.
Shammi grew up in the Khulna up until she got married and she comes from a very humble background.
Now married for almost two decades, things were not always easy and financially there were difficulties to make ends meet initially.
But the couple ensured that their children got the best education and life possible, and it's the struggles that have made the family stronger and brought everyone closer together.
Shammi explains that her oldest son Tanvir Foysal Pallab was the one to bring her to the gym at first when she was looking to improve her fitness.
"My son regularly would go to the gym and when he saw me having some health problems, he took me to the gym back in 2017. Working out really improved my health," Shammi explains.
Shammi says that everyone at the gym has been really helpful and supportive towards her and over time, she took a liking to lifting weights.
"The trainers saw that I enjoyed lifting weights and then they told me about the powerlifting competition. So I started to train myself for that," Shammi says.
In 2019, the Bangladesh Powerlifting Association arranged their first competition and over there Shammi participated in the women's 63kg masters (where the participants are 40+ years old) category and she finished 8th.
"The second time the competition happened in 2020, I was better prepared. But this time there were no participants aged 40+ so I had to participate in the women's 63kg open category. And this time I managed to finish third," Shammi says with a smile.
She feels that her family has been very supportive towards her when it comes to powerlifting, even though there are social stigmas attached to it.
"There are distant relatives that don't always like what I'm doing, especially since it involves wearing western clothes, but hopefully things will change in the future"
"My sons and my husband have always been very supportive towards me. They have always wanted what's best for me," Shammi explains, also adding that going to the gym five days a week has become nothing short of a ritual now.
"There are distant relatives that don't always like what I'm doing, especially since it involves wearing western clothes, but hopefully things will change in the future."
Shammi reveals that she harbours hopes of participating in competitions abroad and representing Bangladesh there as well.
"My younger son's wife lives in Canada. He is very supportive of what I'm doing. My younger son is a semi-pro footballer and he is planning to go to Canada to continue his dreams of being a pro-footballer. I also want to be able to go abroad and take part in international powerlifting competitions," she explains.
She also wants her daughter to start going to the gym once she's over 18.
"For now, my daughter is focusing on her studies and she has a lot of interest in playing video games. If she wants to do something with regards to video games in the future, we will support her there too."
Shammi hopes that she can inspire other women to take up activities like powerlifting: "Don't let people tell you that you can't do this or that. If you have a dream, and you want to do it, do it. If you are a housewife, it does not mean you cannot have a hobby or a career. You can do it and be the change."