Bold and Inspiring Zehra Allibhai: Inspiring Women Through Fitness

Breaking fitness barriers

By Nazima Qureshi

Spotlight On Supermom Zehra Allibhai: Inspiring Women through Fitness

I first met Zehra last year at an all women’s Bootcamp class for Muslim women. I was drawn to her energy and felt sore in all the right places the next day! Ever since then, I have stayed connected with her through social media. She is a personal trainer and fitness instructor, but more importantly she is a mom. I love how she incorporates her children in her active lifestyle. If you head over to her Instagram, her motivational posts and family-centric style make her both relatable and likeable.

Read on to learn more about this inspirational woman. She even shares a workout routine that you can try out in your home!

Who is Zehra Allibhai?

Zehra Allibhai

I’m a mom, wife, personal trainer and fitness instructor. I teach boot camp and crossfit/conditioning class for ladies. I love helping people discover their inner strength and see how fun being active can be. I love making fitness accessible to all and help people (especially ladies) be comfortable in their own skin! Most of all, I love being a mama to my two little kiddies, they keep me on my toes and are constantly teaching me about life and how to look at things from a new perspective.

What inspired you to go into the fitness industry?

Growing up I was always into sports and fitness. I played on every team sport in school and would always be riding my bike and playing basketball on my driveway after school. I knew I wanted to carry on my love of fitness into my career and one of my teachers mentioned Kinesiology to me. I loved that it was a specialty that combined all aspects of health and fitness and let me work with and help others. After Kinesiology, I went on to get certified as a personal trainer.  I am so lucky and blessed that I get to share my passion with others and incorporate fitness into my life almost everyday 😉

How have things changed since when you first became a personal trainer? 

Many things have changed. The focus has definitely moved more from simply aesthetics to functionality. When I first started training, there was a strong focus on using machines and repetitive movements. Now the focus is on moving your body to help you live a better life. I also love how fitness is becoming more accessible to everyone. You don’t need fancy equipment or a gym membership. You can workout and get stronger from home with minimal equipment.

Zehra Allibhai

Your kids are a big part of your life (as evident by your Instagram account!). How has having kids changed your career as a personal trainer?

Yes, I’m very lucky that the kids love being active and working out with me:) Before my workouts were long and very involved. Now with kids you realize that time is a luxury and you have to maximize your workouts. My schedule has also changed, my kids are still young and I like to teach and train around their school and activities so I can be there. So I train mostly during the days, weekends and early mornings.

What is one thing you struggle with when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle? How do you overcome it?

There is so much out there. I feel like sometimes I have to be the expert on everything and try every new trend/product that comes out.  But then I have to take a step back and realize that sometime you have to just stick to the basics and do what works best for your body.

You wear hijab and represent yourself as a Muslim woman. How does this influence what you do as a fitness expert on social media?

To me, social media is a great way to represent myself and my passions.  Because I wear the hijab, I realize that I’m also representing my faith to others who may have misconceptions surrounding my religion or the hijab.  I think there’s a certain prejudice around the hijab and I want people to know that we’re just normal people.  I also hope to inspire Muslim women by showing them how vital (and easy) it is to take control of their health, regardless of whether they choose to wear the hijab or not.

Zehra Allibhai

What do you think holds Muslim women back from working out?

I think that the prospect of working out regularly can be a bit intimidating for women (muslim and non-muslim) in general.  In that sense, Muslim women experience many of the same hangups and challenges with finding (and sticking with) a workout regimen as anyone else.  Having said that, we also need a place where we feel comfortable and supported in terms of our religious and cultural traditions. Finding the right workout clothes, classes, or a women’s-only gym can be difficult, especially if you’re new to fitness.  I like to remind women that you don’t need much to start with, oftentimes all you need is your own body weight and some motivation!

How are you helping or hoping to break barriers for women like yourself?Zehra Allibhai

I feel that I’m truly blessed to have the opportunity to pursue & share my passions each and every day of my life.  I want women (both Muslim and non-Muslim) to know that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to and I also want to show that women can still be active while wearing a hijab (or, for that matter, while being a dedicated wife & mother of 2).  There are so many negative stereotypes about the hijab these days, and one of my goals is to help break down these barriers, even if it’s in just a small way.

What advice do you have for Masalamommas’ readers on how they can get more active?

Find some type of activity you really enjoy. Get a workout buddy! There is so much to choose from, from biking to running and so many different types of classes and home workouts. Be open to trying new things and whatever you choose, make it a part of your lifestyle, something that you can stick to and do consistently.

Can you share a quick exercise routine readers can do when they are pressed for time?

Here’s a quick full-body workout you can do just about anywhere that will get your heart rate up and muscles working.

  • 7 Burpees
  • 12 lunges each leg
  • 7 push ups
  • 12 jump squats
  • 7 v-sits
  • 12 tricep dips

*Repeat circuit 4 times*

Let’s get to know Zehra just a little bit more! She shares her favourites:

  • Type of exercise: Burpees!
  • Food: Berries and Thai Food
  • Outdoor activity: Biking and Hiking
  • Song to exercise to: Anything fast paced
  • Time of day to exercise: In the morning before breakfast
  • Piece of gym equipment you can’t live without: Kettlebell and skipping rope
  • Workout outfit: Leggings and a good sports bra
  • Exercise to do with the kids: Anything that gets them jumping and working on upper body strength (monkey bars!)
  • Fitness/Health Instagram accounts you follow:
    • @nutritionbynaz
    • @healthandfoodjunkie
    • @thedishonhealthy
    • @carmelrodriguezfit
    • @massy.arias

Follow Zahra on Instagram at @zallibhai or visit her website at www.thefitnest.ca

 


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