When one meets lifestyle and wellness coach, Mantahaa Maqsood, a positive vibe of self-assurance can be felt. “I am where I need to be. I have a vocation that fulfils my deepest desires and I couldn’t thank God enough for this,” Mantahaa reaffirms. She has a sense of calmness about her, which reflects the peace of her soul.
Being a people’s person, Mantahaa never found her corporate jobs self-fulfilling. She wanted to make a difference in society. “Transforming lives used to give me a kick. Every time I went to the gym, women would ask me to teach an exercise rep, which would make a difference for them. Soon I started putting my savings into this profession,” Mantahaa explains how she started her journey.
Mantahaa’s unconventional profession often has people confused about her being a fitness trainer or a psychologist. “We aim to transform people’s lifestyles and for us to do that we have to work from their mind down to their heels. We know our client inside out through various tests and check-ups and we become our client’s BFFs.” Mantahaa claims that her lifestyle and wellness program aims to create a ‘tribe’ for the modern woman, where she has a whole team of women to push her towards goals. She’s had a particularly gratifying moment when she helped a breast cancer patient, who was struggling to accept the changes in her body post-surgery, regain her confidence with the help of lifestyle and wellness coaching.
When commenting on her challenges, Mantahaa compares life to an ECG monitor, saying that “when there are no ups and downs on those lines then it means you’re dead! What is life without ups and downs?” Like many women in the country, she finds the overarching misogynist mindset of our society to be a huge challenge. It had been difficult for her to prove her mettle as a physically and emotionally strong woman in a largely male-dominated field when she first came to Pakistan 3-4 years ago. She also found adjusting to a new country and married life quite emotionally challenging, while the lack of regulation in the fitness industry and duplication of her ideas and plans has been psychologically frustrating for her. Yet, she perceives these challenges positively because it was these challenges that taught her a lot.
According to Mantahaa, not just independence but interdependence is also an absolute must for women. She believes that in today’s day and age of uncertainty of finances or even relationships, an independent woman can help her family in adverse circumstances. She further adds, “If you’re emotionally independent, you can help others rise too.” She is also critical of the gender inequality faced by women everywhere. Her abhorrence towards gender inequality is so strong that she terms it asmam disease. “The word disease is two words: ‘dis’ and ‘ease’, not being at ease. Gender inequality is a social disease, while other issues faced by females, such as breast cancer, is a physical disease and domestic violence is an emotional disease,” she explains. To fight off these biases, Mantahaa urges women to showcase their inner and outer strength with a fighter spirit. “We (women) have to get up and fight. You have to roll up your sleeves and leave all issues at home before you walk out the door,” she asserts, advising other women to “think like a man and feel like a woman.”
Continuing with her stance on encouraging women to assert their worth in society, Mantahaa is adamant that there should be zero tolerance for domestic violence by any woman. “You must see a psychologist and solve issues from the root. If you don’t, you’re affecting your body, your home environment and even your children with this emotional baggage,” stresses Mantahaa. She believes that a mother has to feel emotionally, physically and monetarily fulfilled to be able to set the right example of being a wife or a mother. “Your children will be happy when they see you happy. Self-love should be every woman’s priority!”
For this Miracle Woman, who describes herself as a “well-wisher”, getting people off terminal medications is her Miracle Moment. “Curing and giving a new life to those suffering from cancer, seeing 70-year olds, who had given up on life, running miles and miles in parks and transforming lives every day are my miracle moments.” Indeed, only people like her, who feel positivity within their souls, can be the source of smiles for all those around her. And this is exactly what makes her special.