Ghazal Mir, a certified Zumba instructor in Karachi is a former member of the Pakistani and Canadian National Sailing Teams. Having grown up playing a variety of sports, Mir has been conditioned with discipline and competition. She tells us the importance of putting yourself first and understanding your body and how Zumba changed her life. From how to attain a healthy lifestyle to some common misconceptions about Zumba, she shares it all
How would you describe your fitness philosophy?
Always put yourself first and understand your own body. No class or workout can get you desired results if you’re not aware of your tendencies. Do your own research, seek guidance, there is so much knowledge being shared. Never be shy to ask questions because it’s crucial that you understand how your body works if you want to see results.
What inspired you to join the fitness industry?
Being the youngest, I grew up glued to my mother as she did her Jane Fonda workouts, and my father ensured that we were actively involved in sports throughout. I come from a very sporty family so fitness was never an option- just the norm. Raised as a national athlete for Pakistan and Canada both, I was fortunate enough to be conditioned with discipline, competition and teamwork. Yes- I was part of the national sailing team of Pakistan and eventually Canada. Who would’ve thought?
I started doing Zumba after I stopped sailing for the Canadian team. It was a confusing time in my life because I detached from something that was second nature to me. I started weight training, zumba, yoga, belly dance, spinning, boot camp, you name it- I tried it all! It was a great phase of self-discovery in which I connected with the energy that radiated in zumba classes. No matter how tired I was I’d never skip class, not even while fasting! My instructor was my main inspiration as I wanted to take over the stage the way she did. She would physically destroy us yet keep feeding the group with energy boosts. It really is an art.
Three things in your diet you can’t go a day without?
Fruits, fruits and more fruits. No seriously, I cannot do without fresh fruits and vegetables and no, it’s not because I’m on some diet. God blessed you with delicious nutrients, why do we process them? Enjoy nature in its true form! Except cocoa- who doesn’t appreciate a good bar of chocolate?
What’s your typical day like?
Wake up after a snooze-war and either have breakfast on the go or at work. Make my to-do list first thing in the morning (cannot survive without this- learned from the best!). Touch base with the skittles while managing programmess at work. I choreograph songs in my head so nobody understands my level of multitasking as I’m engrossed in excel sheets with headphones in my ears. Head straight to MUV Base from work and fade away into a trance of Zumba. I try to squeeze in a quick workout after class- this is essential. Remember to always put yourself first. Spend some quality time with family and friends over dinner and call it a night. Repeat.
What is the most effective exercise according to you?
Exercise the mind. People think this means you have to sit in a room and concentrate on the lingering silence. Well, that’s one way of doing it but it’s actually a 24/7 workout. Your mind is the biggest and most powerful organ; it’s working even when you’re sleeping! Whether you’re doing plyometric circuits or Olympic lifting or simply carrying your groceries, it is crucial that your mind is engaged and you’re not turning into a machine. The second you’re able to achieve that level of concentration, your breathing will enhance your strength to lift heavier, jump higher, run longer, dance more and simply keep going!
Your favourite foods to eat on a cheat day?
“Muffin Sundays.” This was a fun diet my sister and I tried when we wouldn’t eat junk all week and reward ourselves with heavenly double chocolate chip muffins from the corner store. Pretty sure they were from Costco and hands down the best muffins I’ve ever had.
Advice you’d give to people looking to attain a healthier lifestyle?
Explore your options. While it is good to maintain a disciplined exercise regime, I think it’s important to constantly try new things. I encourage all my clients to try different classes and workouts in their own time. There is so much to learn and we really need variety in life. Personally- I’m the happiest and fittest when doing different workouts. I enjoy it so I can be consistent. I grew up as an athlete so I can’t disregard the routine; however it’s important to find your true calling so you can keep going!
What are some common fitness misconceptions/questions you are asked by your clients?
Can I get fit with zumba only? If I stop eating carbs and desserts will I lose weight?
How is your fitness mantra different from others?
The first step for me is to embrace your body as it is irrespective of how fat or skinny you categorise it to be. Only after I stopped fighting with myself was I able to see steady progress in strength, stamina, control, physique and most importantly- conception. You need to give yourself love if you want to grow.
Which celebrity would you like to train and why?
Johny Depp; simply because “he’s a pirate.”
Something you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Going to the spa with my mother (rare moment when our schedules match).
Future plans for Zumba with Ghazal?
Stay tuned- I’ll be introducing a ladies only boot camp very soon which will focus on body sculpting and goal setting. Super excited!
A saying or quote that keeps you going?
Although a recent find, it’s exactly what I stand for: “You can’t pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first.”