#IBelong, a new initiative to increase diversity at our Club

After Shalarm participated in a Learn to Row course via a new Club initiative #IBelong that aims to get more people from our local diverse communities to try rowing Sara Cinamon talked to him about his experience.


Could you tell me about yourself?

My name’s Shalarm I am a 27-year-old Personal Trainer from East London, Hackney. I am a fitness enthusiast who enjoys challenging himself and encouraging others to get moving via training or running.


Were you interested in sports growing up?

In Primary school I was into football and towards year 6 started doing athletics so for as long as I could remember I've always participated in one sport or another.


How did you hear about the #IBelong rowing opportunity?

My Aunt Brenda told me about #IBelong. She has rowed with the club before and thought it would be good for me and my friends.


What did you think of your recent rowing experience?

I genuinely enjoyed the experience as it was something different. As I get older I try and challenge myself to give new things a go, so rowing fell in line with that.

Shalarm (second from bottom) on the Lea


What were the highlights?

The highlights for me were working as a team and getting out onto the river. Initially my biggest fear was the boat capsizing as I'm not the best swimmer but after the first session I had faith in our team and boat which helped me focus on improving my technique.


What did you think about our work to try to get more people from our local diverse communities to have a go at rowing?

I thought the idea of a diverse group was amazing. I didn't initially think any of my friends would be interested in rowing but a few were and it gave us the opportunity to try something new. People from our background don't really row so there were many occasions where others walking along the canal saw us and took out their phones to capture a group of Black people rowing. They were probably in disbelief to see us rowing.


What other sports do you do?

I currently train calisthenics (bodyweight training), run and play football.


As a fitness coach, how do you think this could help with rowing?

Rowing helped as it took me out of my comfort zone and as Deva [one of the coaches] informed us you are only as good as your last stroke so you are constantly having to adapt and stay in sync with the team. It helped me with my patience as my output was based on my team's output.


Are there other things you would like to get involved with at Lea R.C.?

I would like to continue rowing with the club. I am just going to see what my schedule is like and see which set of dates and times work best for me.


What has been the biggest challenge you've faced?

My biggest challenge I've faced is finding something I'm passionate about and sticking to it whether things are going well or not. Most people settle in their 20's but I'm glad most days are a challenge for me where I have to step up and work towards becoming a better version of me.


What or who is your biggest motivator?

My biggest motivation is being me, in a world full of followers, standing on my own principles and morals and still being able to grow as a person whilst helping others around me grow is priceless. My biggest motivator is my Mum. I think most people say their Mum as they watch them bring them up and keep a household afloat. I believe my work ethics are good but my Mum has had no other option but to have a crazy work ethic for the past 35+ years. I hope I can have the drive she has when I reach her age.