The lovely Zehra Allibhai is a Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor from Canada whose Instagram feed we just love. We can’t get enough of Zehra’s motivating content and especially her Insta workout videos, so we couldn’t wait to get in touch with Zehra for an interview.
Where are you located?
I’m located just north of Toronto, Canada.
In one sentence, describe your motivation in life:
Wow. To live life to the fullest, love deeply and always leave people with a smile on their face 😉
Tell us the story of how you got started with your business:
I had already been working in the fitness industry for over 10 years, mostly in large gyms. After the birth of our first child I realized that I didn’t want to go back to working evenings and weekends at the gym so I started teaching “Mom-and-Baby” classes at home with my little bubbah by my side.
We moved around a lot in those first few years as our family grew and it was a great way for me to meet new mamas and have my kids with me while still doing what I loved. Now that we are settled and the kids are in school, I’ve started teaching more classes and taking on private clients. I’ve also been working on my social media.
At first it was just a convenient way to keep in touch with clients and friends I had made along the way. But Alhamdulillah, it’s growing into a great community where I get to connect with amazing people around the world, (like you!) and Insha’Allah providing them with motivation and knowledge along the way by sharing my passion for health and fitness.
What is one of your favourite parts of working on your business and why?
I love the great connections I get to make with people. I always joke around with my clients that they love to hate me;) I always smile when I get a flood of texts and messages from my clients the day after a tough class. While they may tell me that they’re so sore they can hardly move, they always end with “Thanks for a great workout!”
That sort of feedback is what drives me to keep working on new programs and exercises to keep things fresh and exciting for them. I’ve also really loved working on creating content for my social media outlets. Since not everyone can make it to a class, I help give them the tools to start making healthier choices (short workouts, tips, meal ideas).
Alhamdulillah, I’ve had such positive response from these that I look forward to thinking up new ideas and how to present them!
What has been the highlight or ‘I can’t believe this!’ moment so far on your fitness+health journey?
Hmmm. That’s a tough one. Everyday brings new experiences which are incredibly gratifying, from clients losing weight, getting stronger and healthier, or simply feeling more confident and empowered.
One of the biggest highlights of this past year was helping to organize a bunch of ladies to run a 10K race this past May. While it started out as a small group of friends, by the end of it there were around 30 of us. Although we all came in with different fitness/running levels, we trained together whenever we could.
While it was tough – most of us were mothers, trying to fit it into already busy schedules – everyone supported one another. Running with those ladies and hugging each one of them after the race with huge smiles on their faces and that amazing sense of achievement was something I will carry with me always.
How does your faith affect your approach to your business?
I feel that in anything you do you should be honest, kind and respectful. Also, especially in this industry, it can be all about looks and vanity. There are a lot of images out there that can make many ladies feel insecure and have unrealistic expectations. Being a Muslim woman, I want ladies to feel comfortable and confident in their skin. I want to take the focus off of looks and image and put emphasis on strength and health.
What/where/who inspires you?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. I love watching elite athletes perform. I’m amazed by their drive and dedication to constantly improve their performance (I’ve secretly always wanted to be an Olympic athlete).
There are also so many strong female entrepreneurs that I follow and I love watching their companies and brands expand, mostly through Youtube and Instagram.
Another thing that I feel has given me lots of inspiration recently have been podcasts. I love listening to them while I’m working or driving and always can find something that relates to me specifically. I like podcasts by Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, James Altucher and Chalene Jonhson to name a few.
How do you handle the inevitable creative block or plateau?
I wouldn’t call it so much creative block as getting stuck in a rut of doing the same thing over and over. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with different routines and exercise to keep things interesting for yourself and your clients. I like to go to different classes myself and play around with different equipment.
As I’m putting out more content online, my focus has been to make things easy-to-follow and user friendly so people can follow at home and that will keep them motivated and on-track.
Which 2 pieces of advice, based on your own experience, would you give to someone wanting to get more into fitness + health?
1- In general, Just Do It! I’m speaking to myself first here. There are so many times that I’ve sat on an idea and thought about all the reasons why and how it will go wrong. Don’t over think things. You’ll only learn by doing, you won’t know unless you try. There are some projects that I’ve done that have failed and others that have been really successful.
2- Always keep learning. Educating yourself is so important. People are putting their trust in you and looking to you for advice and guidance. There are so many ways now to keep up to date and on top of this ever changing field, and if you don’t know the answer it’s ok to say that and do your research to find out.
Favourite Social Media or Marketing Platform?
Instagram is my jam!
If you could travel to one place anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Thailand. Sit on the beach, swim and snorkel with my family. Eat the yummiest of foods, and visit some beautiful temples. End off my day with a run on the beach and a sunset stretch.
Where would you love to see your business in 5 years time?
I would love to have fitness programs available on-line that include workout videos and nutritional guidance. I would love to organize more events that bring together people to workout while also raising money for worthwhile causes. Events such as Yoga, boot camp and runs. I’d like to focus on family health and fitness.
My main goal is to create a platform and community where people can go for health and fitness information, a place where they can be supported by one another and connect with people from around the world with common goals.
I would also LOVE to host health and fitness retreats around the world where women can come together, connect with others, and unwind while focusing on themselves, getting their bodies moving and of course enjoying delicious healthy food 😉 I hope you’ll join me on this journey!