We’re pleased to announce Mubarakah Ibrahim as AM Women’s seventh American Muslim Woman of the Month!
Mubarakah Ibrahim is an extraordinary woman, and if you don’t know her yet, you’re missing out! So, let us introduce you to this amazing multi-talented lady, whom we’re sure you’ll find naturally fits the title of American Muslim Woman of the Year, let alone the Month! She is the second of four generations that were born and raised Muslim in America. Mashallah!
A Health and Fitness Expert with over two decades of experience in the health and fitness industry, Mubarakah has earned over a dozen related certifications, including Women Specific Training, Pre and Post-Natal and Mat Science (for Yoga and Pilates), and Core Training Certifications.
But that’s not all! She also holds an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, Public Health and Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University. She is also an “OASIS In The Overwhelm” Master Trainer (a professionally recognized stress management coach certification and training program).
Mubarakah appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, “Thirty-Something in America” in 2008, where I first saw her. As a hijab-wearing Muslim woman who owns and runs her own personal training business, she was a clear choice for Oprah’s segment on “the job you’d never expect.” She was featured in the New York Times, in Experience Life magazine, Azizah magazine, as well as on the front page of the Chicago Tribune.
Her expertise was noticed by fitness and health specialists as well, showcasing her knowledge as a referring expert for Prevention magazine on fitness for women over 40, as well as for the New York Times on Muslim women and exercise.
As the Executive Director of Fit Haven, a non-profit organization which aims at reducing health disparities among women and girls of color, she is also a passionate community health advocate. In the same vein, she served as the Co-Chair of the Patient and Family Service Committee for Women’s Services at Yale New Haven Hospital for three years.
Even the previous U.S. Administration took note of her, featuring her profile as a Muslim American on the American Embassy website, and inviting her to the White House twice during both of President Barack Obama’s terms in 2012 and 2013, for her impactful work in the health and fitness of America, as well as her influence as a small business owner and entrepreneur.
Mubarakah uses her vast platform to speak, lecture, and promote better health for and fitness of women through a variety of workshops. She has also published books and poetry, she writes a regular blog, and is very active on social media, discussing many issues that relate to the several intersecting areas that she so ably represents.
As a visible Muslim woman on the front lines of health, fitness, publishing, business, social media, and marketing, she is often asked to talk about issues related to Muslim women in sports and in business, as well as on Islam in general. All of which she shoulders with remarkable wisdom, knowledge, grace, and tact.
In 1996, Mubarakah founded Fit Muslimah, an international online community that currently extends to more than a quarter of a million people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Fit Muslimah is dedicated to improving and advocating for the health and wellness of Muslim women.
She is also the founder of the one and only international health and fitness summit for Muslim women, known as the Fit Muslimah Summit. This summit is hosted throughout the U.S., Bermuda, and The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
As a specialist in women’s health and wellness, her philosophy is that physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing are intertwined. The weakness of one weakens them all, and the strengthening of one strengthens them all. Her motto is, “The world is a better place when women show up their happiest, healthiest selves.” How could you not agree with that?
I was elated when Mubarakah agreed to answer a few questions for AMW Mag, and I’m thrilled to be able to share her story with you. Read on to learn more about this powerhouse of a woman, her inspirational work, and the many contributions she is making to our community.
What’s the story behind Fit Muslimah?
The story behind Fit Muslimah is that, when I first started out, I realized that Muslim women in particular were not very physically active. They had a lot of health issues, and so in my local area, I began to do these “Fit Muslimah Days,” where I would rent out a local community center that had a dance room, a room for workshops, and a swimming pool, and I would host these events where sisters would come in from the Tristate Area.
I live in Connecticut, so I would have sisters come in from New York, New Jersey, from Philly, and we would spend an entire day talking about health and wellness. I sometimes had a dietitian come in and give a workshop, or a doctor. I would give a fitness class, and the sisters would be able to swim.
They got pretty popular. I would do them every quarter, and we would fill to capacity. I believe, at that time, the space could accommodate about 75 women, and we would fill it to capacity.
Then, I had the honor and the pleasure of being a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and my next event turned into a 315 people event, and it began to grow from there. It has since turned into an international retreat. So, that is the story behind Fit Muslimah.
What propelled you to want to provide an online fitness, nutrition, and wellness service for Muslimahs in North America?
I provide online fitness, nutrition, and wellness services for all women, not just Muslim women, and not just in North America. I have many international clients, and being introduced to the internet, probably around 2010, I realized how many more people I could reach.
It wasn’t just limited to people I could physically reach, and Alhamdulillah, it kind of started to take off from there. This allowed to me to continue my mission of getting women to be happier and healthier on a much larger scale.
You do much more than provide online fitness advice. What areas do you cover and why?
I cover health, fitness, nutrition, stress management, productivity. I do business coaching–helping women to brand themselves and grow their business, specifically online. I cover those areas because I believe that when women improve on them, they get results, and they improve their overall life.
So, I believe what I do is sort of a springboard to every aspect of people’s lives. It creates more confidence to allow them to fill the self-efficacy of being able to achieve everything that they do.
“I truly believe that when women show up their happiest and healthiest selves, the world really is a better place.”
It can start off with something little, so it may mean. ‘Hey, today she’s able to squat with fifty pounds, as opposed to thirty-five a couple of weeks ago. And that confidence has given her the wherewithal to apply for the job, start her business, or be a better mom.’ It really does create a snowball effect in every area that I focus on.
When a woman is able to start a business and make her first sale, then that gives her confidence that she can support herself and her children. She can contribute to her home and give her family a better life, and that is going to increase her confidence as well. All those things are really important. I truly believe that when women show up their happiest and healthiest selves, the world really is a better place.
You’ve been providing this service for decades, what is the secret to your longevity?
I think the secret to my longevity is one: health is never going to go out of style (chuckles)! That’s the first thing. And number two, I really have a love and a passion for it. Everything that I do, I see how it affects people’s lives on a daily basis, and I think that is so important.
My passion comes from watching my mom not have good health for most of my life, and that’s a memory and a motivation that’s never going to go away. So as long as I’m able to put the message out there, to help people improve their health and wellness, then I will continue to do that.
I think that, also because I’ve created a solid brand for myself, and I show up and I’m present, that it also contributes to longevity–showing up every day with the same passion, motivation, and goal to help as many people as I can.
You’ve been featured on Oprah, USA Today, and many other major media outlets, and yet you continue to be humble, and do most of the heavy lifting (pun intended) yourself! Why is this?
I guess I do most of the heavy lifting in terms of what services I offer, because what I offer mainly is my knowledge, and I can’t really outsource that. I do have a couple of team members that help me with social media, with customer service, but I do a lot of it myself, mainly because I’m in the business of information, and that’s in my head. So, it’s really hard to outsource to other people.
What do women look for in an online fitness coach in your opinion?
I think women look for someone that can relate to them. I think that’s important. The second thing that I think people look for is someone who can actually get them results. The third thing that I think is important to some, and probably should be important to more people, is the background and knowledge that you have.
So, the first and foremost thing for a fitness coach to be is relatable, right? Not everybody is going to like me, not everyone is going to be attracted to my personality, and that’s absolutely fine.
But, you’re not going to follow my advice, you’re not going to listen to me, and you’re not going to get the results that I know you could get if I’m not somebody that you can relate to, somebody that you can feel can give you knowledge.
“Your vibe really does attract your tribe.”
In the end, no matter which coach you hire, you have to be open and willing to listen to them. You have to go to them with an open mind, and if they can’t connect with you, then they’re just not going to follow your advice.
So, when I advise people on how to build an online coaching business, it’s really important that you show up. I know it sounds really cliché, but it’s really important that you show up as your authentic self because you’re going to attract the people that are going to benefit from you.
Your vibe really does attract your tribe. You don’t want to attract people who are just going to always try to prove you wrong all the time. I mean, it’s ok to do that online, but when you’re creating your inner circle of coaching clients, you don’t want somebody that you’re going to spend your time fighting with, just to get them where they need to be. So, certainly, show up your authentic self, and attract the people that you’re going to be able to help.
What motivates you to keep going?
My health, thinking about my mom, thinking about my sisters, thinking about all the things that I want to avoid. That’s what motivates me. What motivates me, is being able to show up as my own happiest, healthiest self.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Inshallah, in five years, I’m hoping to expand my business to offer products, not just services. So, I’m in the process of working on a supplement line, and I hope that the annual conferences can expand to many more people.
I want to have a conference where there’s easily ten thousand women there ready to gain knowledge and inspiration. I’d like to write a couple more books. But, I think the big effort is actual products that can help people on a daily basis.
What’s the best advice you’d give our readers to encourage them to take charge of their health?
Taking charge of your health is about consistency. The most general tip that I can give people, that can be applied to every single person, no matter where you are on your fitness journey, is BE CONSISTENT.
Choose something that you’re going to improve on, make a habit out of working on it, and then, go to the next thing. Don’t start a program, don’t start a diet, if you’re going to hire a trainer or buy an online program.
Know that this is just one step towards your lifelong journey of health and wellness. This is not just a six-week program. You are learning for six weeks how to apply it to the rest of your life.
“…go into it with the mindset of being taught how to achieve your goal and maintain it.”
Particularly, when we talk about online programs, you need to remove the idea of, ‘This is a program.’ You should think of it as, ‘This is a course. This is an educational tool.’ You are going into it to learn what you need to know, so you can go way beyond the six weeks–way beyond the time that you’re working with the trainer.
You shouldn’t look at it just as something you do today, or this week, but go into it with the mindset of being taught how to achieve your goal and maintain it. So, consistency is the key. Make it a habit.
Remember, it’s not about the apple. You know, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ It’s about consistency. You can’t eat seven apples on Sunday, and then not eat the rest of the week. It’s one a day. Consistency.
Check out Mubarakah Ibrahim’s online fitness training program, Fit Muslimah, and don’t miss out on her 40-day Burn Belly Fat Challenge. Registration is open for the next challenge that starts on September 13, 2020. Be sure to also follow her on all socials @FitMuslimah, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, for more of her health and fitness tips, business advice, and workout routines you can try at home!