TL;DR – Was a Makcik… now a MakChic!
While everyone is familiar with female leaders who generate headlines or break corporate or political glass ceilings, many are less aware of women who have challenged what is expected of their gender and changing the community around them for the better.
Meet Rasidah Caudal; a nurse turned homemaker turned fitness instructor. And she is no ordinary fitness instructor.
Rasidah is the Senior Master of Piloxing in Asia.
Rasidah radiates energy that one usually associates with the young and carefree. That is, however, not the case for Rasidah.
Diagnosed with a chronic medical condition
She was diagnosed with a chronic medical condition in her early 20s, back when she had just started as a nurse. Rasidah refused to acknowledge her illness even though she witnessed daily the debilitating effects of chronic disease when left poorly managed.
Only after the birth of her third child, Rasidah decide to take control of her health condition.
“I think I was just in denial. I do not want to be labeled as someone with diabetes, but I got the cyst that grew so fast that it became so painful that I had to see a doctor. So then I realize it’s time to do something because I want to have a quality life, not just a long life where I can still play with my grandchildren or see my children’s wedding and all that. So that changed me, and that’s where I start to say change my lifestyle.”
Rasidah admitted her physical appearance also played a part in her decision to lead a healthier lifestyle.
“Everybody has insecurities, especially women. I was obese and hated how I looked in the mirror. I can only wear certain clothes in dark colors. Not confident at all, but when I went into exercising, I found something I liked and enjoyed.”
Rasidah admitted seeing herself shed the kilos boosted her self-esteem and empowered her to take the next step- to train others and inspire them to take control of their health.
Her advice to her students as a Piloxing instructor is to celebrate the small wins.
“Instead of thinking that OK, I want to be 50 kilos, 60 kilos in one year, and that is not possible. So take it a step at a time. The goal is not so big, so it becomes doable. It’s easier for me to achieve, and each time I achieve something small, it makes me happy.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be a fitness instructor or attend fitness classes regularly. Even physically, I was not the strongest, but the good thing about fitness, you get better, and that’s where I start to train and keep telling myself I can do it.”
A new opportunity awaits the Senior Master of Piloxing
Rasidah’s can-do spirit opened up more doors of opportunity for her- one of which, all the way in China!
“They told me we would like to look at you being a master trainer, so I was asked to go to China. They saw me and were not impressed at all in the beginning. But I guess it’s fate because we were informed that there was a Piloxing Masterclass in the last few days, and they needed a trainer. Courtney told me to do it. How can I reject right?”
Her personality and people management skills won them over.
“Imagine the president of Piloxing watching you teach a group of people who do not even speak English! I was very nervous, but after that, I just told myself I was teaching them, just like how it’s like in my regular classes. She was impressed and said, oh, now we see something in you. Besides being physically able to do certain things, it’s also about how I communicated with people.”
Breaking the Bias for Women
Rasidah is currently the Piloxing Senior Master Trainer of Asia and an American Council on Exercise (ACE) Group Fitness Master Trainer.
While she continues her regular training engagements with individuals and associations, she conducts various instructor training and Masterclasses locally and in this region.
For Rasidah, the theme for International Women’s Day this year, #breakthebias resonates deeply with her,
“I was big-sized, obese, and unhealthy. At first, I could not see the results, but I focused and believed in myself. I set small goals and celebrated every success to continue feeling motivated.
I always say, if you never try, you never know. If you only think of failure, you will always focus on that. So take it slow but keep moving ahead. Even if it’s just one step at a time, that’s better than nothing.
Also, I’m half Malay and half Indian. I have the best of both worlds, but also, in my culture, we are supposed to be the ones staying home. Take care of things. That is the traditional role for women. But, I prove to people that I like to do this for my health, and with my family support, I can be good at this. Stick true to your principles. Do what you love.
And that is how I #breakthebias.”