How This 35 Year Old Man Beat The Odds And Became A Fitfluencer

"I couldn't believe that this was the new me."

Kirsten Curtis |

Against The Odds

35-year-old Naeem was born with Erb’s Palsy – a condition that resulted in the partial paralysis of his left arm, due to a brachial plexus injury at birth. Because of this, he was advised not to do exercises such as bicep curls, pull-ups, and certain back and shoulder movements. Paired with his weight gain over the years, Naeem wasn’t happy with who he saw in the mirror, and began to lose faith in fitness. This is how he bounced back.

Naeem Ebrahim

  • Location: Johannesburg
  • Occupation: Financial Accountant and Tax Practitioner
  • Age: 35
  • Height: 1.74m
  • Weight Before: 87kg
  • Weight After: 69kg
  • Time To Goal: 12 weeks

“Every time I began a fitness programme, I would give up soon after, because of my inability to perform simple exercises such as pull-ups. After going to many personal trainers and physios in the past, I lost all hope in having a fitness-focused lifestyle,” he recalls.

But his motivation was triggered while looking through old holiday photos.

“I was overweight, and I didn’t look like anything that I had envisioned myself to be. If I was to make a significant change, I would have to face the frustration of failing at the exercises that I’m incapable of performing.”

Related: How Musa Langa Lost 30kgs And Started His Own Training Programme

“I knew from prior experience that no personal trainer was capable of training an Erb’s Palsy arm, so I decided to do my own research – diets, programmes, exercises, and even other significant but often overlooked health factors (MHR, blood pressure, etc). Within four weeks, I had designed my own meal plan and training routine.”
In just 12 weeks, Naeem lost 18 kg. Completely changing his physique. Swapping out flab for abs.

“I couldn’t believe that this was the new me.”

Shortly after, he developed a love for calisthenics, and persevered through pain and sweat to make this fitness form his own.

“I am now the only known person in the world with Erb’s Palsy who can do a one-arm assisted pull-up on their paralysed arm.”

Naeem was selected as a Global Fitness Fitfluencer by FIBO Africa, and continues to share his motivational story on his social media platforms.

“For me, performing even half of a normal pull-up is nothing short of a miracle. This entire fitness journey has allowed me to be a source of inspiration to people suffering from brachial plexus injuries and other disabilities all around the globe. So to sum up, the results have been phenomenal.”


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