Nothing says self-care than exercising. It doesn't just make you look good but also feel good. Im not a coffee drinker, so when I want to get energized, instead of filling my body with caffeine I workout in the morning. It gets you pumped up and ready to conquer the day!
I love searching for great workouts and no one knows better about working out than fitness instructor, Zehra Allibhai. I was so excited when I came across her Instagram. There is alot of great motivational content there. I just had get to know her more and collaborate with her somehow! Zehra was so kind enough to answer some questions for us in our interview and created a morning flow workout video just for Karama.
Welcome to the Karama Club Zehra!
What inspired you to get started?
I’ve always loved exercising and playing sports. Growing up I played on a number of school teams and was always outside running around, swimming, you name it. Both my parents were active and they always supported me to do the same from day one. My dad was actually a Phys-Ed teacher turned contractor and we used to go to his job sites to help clean up and play around in the big empty spaces.
When it came time to picking a career I knew I didn’t want the typical 9-to-5 desk job. My passions had always been fitness and working with others, and so I decided on a career in Kinesiology. Around that time, I started working at a women’s-only gym. I went on to get certified as a Personal Trainer and have been helping women reach their fitness goals ever since then. I love seeing the positive effect that fitness has on my clients. Setting a fitness goal is a journey of self-discovery. It doesn’t matter whether you’re training for your first marathon or just working towards your first push-up, when you set a fitness goal you learn about how to overcome obstacles. My goal is to help women discover the key to unlocking the inner strength that’s been hidden inside of them all along.
How do you bring your faith / spirituality into what you do?
Taking care of our bodies isn’t just an act of self-love and personal empowerment but it’s also an act of devotion. There’s a hadith where the Prophet (S.A.W.) has said that “Your body has a right over you.” It is our responsibility to nourish both our minds and our bodies. We have been blessed with these incredible bodies and it is our responsibility to take care of them. Expressing gratitude for our bodies is something I talk about with my clients and it’s also something we do daily with our kids.
Do you think religion and business can work in harmony together?
Yes, absolutely. Islam encompasses all aspects of a balanced life, and business is no exception. We’re taught that it’s important to always do our best for others, providing value through good, honest work. Each time I put myself out there, I take care to remember that I’m not only trying to represent myself, but I’m also trying to represent Islam in the best way possible. I believe that the goal of business is not to simply enrich ourselves but to help make the world a better place. I’m a huge fan of companies such as yours where the philosophy is to give back.
What drives you on the days it's hard to motivate yourself?
So I think the first thing to remember is that we all have days like this, so don’t be hard enough on yourself or think that there’s something “wrong” with you when you do have those days. I know for myself (and the same goes for my clients) often the toughest part is just starting. So if you can somehow overcome that initial resistance and just start moving you’ll find that you’ll automatically start feeling better. The idea is to start small and build from there.
On a more personal note, I’m honestly so touched by all of the wonderful feedback I get from my clients and also from women around the world who follow along with my workouts online. On the days when I’m not feeling super motivated I draw strength from all of these amazing women who are working hard each and every day!
Who are your inspirations?
My parents were always my biggest supporters and cheerleaders from day one, and they were my first source of inspiration. They showed us what hard work and dedication can get you. They immigrated from East Africa to Canada with very little, yet they’ve grown to become successful and well-respected in the community while raising 3 kids and also giving back, helping many others out along the way.
Naturally I’ve also looked up to other athletes for inspiration. I’ve always been inspired by the dedication, the discipline and the mindset that it takes to constantly strive to be better than you were yesterday. This past summer we all had the honour and privilege of watching Ibtihaj Muhammad compete and medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. I was honestly so proud and moved to see her not only compete but excel amongst the top athletes in the world. More recently she was nominated to the President’s Council on Fitness, Health & Nutrition in the US (by no less than President Obama himself!), so it’s clear that she’s not yet done changing the world. It was always my childhood dream to be an Olympic athlete….I dunno maybe I still have time ;)
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I love spending time with my family and playing fun games with the kids. We also love to watch tv (Netflix is the best, right?). It’s just such a great way for my husband and I to relax and unwind after a long day once the kids are asleep.
I love being outdoors and being surrounded by nature. Here in Canada, we’re super blessed with incredible natural beauty, and by the fact that we have 4 seasons so there’s always something to do. Going for a walk/run in the woods is a great way to clear your mind. I also love listening to podcasts and curling up with a good book.
What tips would you give to others in your line of work?
Always keep learning. Things are always changing in this field and it’s important to keep up. At the same time, it’s important to be critical of new information (don’t be quick to jump on the bandwagon of a new trend). You’ll do great in this line of work if you’re passionate about fitness and about helping others and if you’re constantly looking to learn more and better yourself!
What would you like to be known for?
My most important and meaningful job is being a mother to our 2 children so first and foremost I’d love to be known as a loving mother who’s intensely dedicated to her family and instils good morals and values in her children.
I also want to be known as someone who stayed genuine to who she really was, and who helped to motivate people to become the best version of themselves. When somebody thinks of me, I’d love it if a big smile comes to their face because they enjoy being around me and because I’ve made a positive impact on their life (or just their day).
What do you describe your style as? Can you give us any styling tips for fashion/home décor?
Ha! In terms of fashion, classic + comfy is what I’d call it. :) Don’t get me wrong, I love to dress up for a night out, but to be honest - just because of what I do during the day - I’m often wearing fitness wear. I try to look for workout clothes that not only look great but are also super functional. When I’m not in my sweats or yoga pants, you’ll usually find me in jeans, with a comfy sweater and runners or flats. I also believe that “less is more”. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it’s less important to have a closet overflowing with outfits than it is to own fewer pieces that you really love.
As far as home decor, I’m really moving towards a more clean and minimalistic style (or at least as much as you can when you’ve got 2 young kids). I like lots of white with warm wood tones and lots of greenery.
Do you have any tips for self-care?
Don’t feel guilty taking care of yourself.
Take the time for yourself to relax and recharge. I really find it’s important to slow down and take time to step away from the hectic schedule of everyday life. Read a book, take a walk, go for a good meal, get a massage, get in a workout or meditate. I heard this quote once and it stuck with me “ Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes...Even you.”