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Women’s wrestling matches finally takes the spotlight!

It started officially with a simple hashtag on Twitter, and just like that women in pro-wrestling were no longer campaigning for better or longer matches behind the scenes, now the fans- millions strong -were also campaigning for them.

The hashtag #GiveDivasAChance went viral for three days and was so strong that WWE could no longer ignore the sweeping demands of their customers. The people had spoken and it was time for the female wrestlers to enjoy the spotlight just as the men.

For as long as I can remember I have loved watching wrestling and I had always accepted on some level that there were no real women matches, that the women were side characters, that their matches were more comic relief than actual story-lines, or they were stuck in crazy love interests and rarely had screen time.

At first I thought maybe they just were afraid to get as physical as the men, afterall a lot of them looked more like models than fighters. Then I became angry because I wanted to see more women have those chances, I wanted to know what it would be like to see a woman diving off the second rope and tackling another. I wanted to see them evolve.

The late Chyna, better known as “the 9th wonder of the world” was the eye-opener for me. She was a huge, muscular and pretty woman who was not afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone. Male or female and I remember one Saturday as me and my brother watched the program wondering if there would be a time when more women would be allowed to show their might as fighters.

Fast forward to 4 years ago and I’m watching AJ Lee and Paige put on a match that took my breath away. I live for the story-lines and the way the matches develop. I also love when you can see emotions and passion in a match that fit the story being told. This match was perfect for me. When AJ Lee dove off the top of the ropes onto Paige, they instantly became my favourite and just as I did with Chyna, I was front and center whenever they were on TV.

Finally WWE listened and created the ‘Divas Revolution’ that meant more women wrestlers on their shows, this lead to the birth of women being called ‘Superstars’ instead of ‘Divas’ and it also lead to women being featured in the main events of the shows, having more than one match at the pay per views and being seen as more than side pieces but legit fighters in their own right.

Finally the misogynist views of the WWE were crumbling. So can you even begin to imagine my excitement about the upcoming All Women’s Pay Per View on Sunday?

No you cannot. There are a few matches I am beyond ready to watch, including the first ever Last Woman Standing Match with one of the best story-lines WWE has ever had, just because it took over 5 years to properly flesh out and it has not gotten old yet. I can watch Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair go at it for ever- they are part of the four horsewomen of the WWE for a reason.

This pay per view has come a lot faster than anyone could have imagined but it shows that finally the WWE is ready to embrace the emotions and needs of its fan base and the fans themselves are indeed ready to let go of the idea that wrestling is for men only and see the real talent, passion, hard work and sacrifices that both sexes are putting into their careers.

For that alone I hope to see more progression and growth for the industry and more amazing and entertaining matches. The aesthetic on female athletes are changing and the promotion is ‘Yes you can, just be you and never give up’.

Woman of the Week: Janet Mohapi-Banks

Janet Mohapi-Banks is nothing short of a truly inspiring woman.

Hers is a journey of never giving up and of having the faith to continue to push towards your dreams, even when all the chips are down and hope is in very short supply.

In today’s fast pace and seemingly hectic culture, it is never easy to feel as if all of the time, effort and love you put into creating the life you were proud of, all seems to be crashing down around you; and it takes a very special, committed and brave woman to not only weather the destruction, but to also stand up and do it all over again.

Mohapi-Banks is one such woman.

She  went from being at the top of her game as a Luxury Wedding Cake Designer,- even winning a Precious Business Award in 2010 to being burnt out and trying her best to manage a seemingly incurable digestive disorder as well as chronic fatigue  in just under a two year span.

“By 2012 I had burned out so badly I was left literally at death’s door for nearly 5 years with a rare (and according to my specialist at The Royal Free Hospital) incurable digestive disorder and chronic fatigue.

As a result, I was forced to close my cake business which was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  I moved out of the London area, got my affairs in order and prepared for the inevitable.” She said.

For any entrepreneur, being forced to say good bye to your ‘business baby’ is a very hard and painful process which can fill you with feelings of guilt, frustration, resentment and a lot of fear.

It was unbelievable to her that in only a span of 18 short months she had gone from delivering cakes to some of the most prestigious venues in the UK, including the Ritz Hotel Mayfair and winning awards for her fabulous designs, to being so exhausted and in pain that she was not able to even get out of bed to care for her children- a boy aged 12 years, and a girl 15.

A second chance on life came for Janet in the form of a chiropractor who by cracking her spine released her vagus nerve, thereby curing her and allowing her to grow back to optimal health.

With this new lease on life, Janet launched her coaching business in an effort to help other women to grow their ideal business without the stress that had nearly crippled her.

“Before I was critically ill, I used to overwork, which lead me to burnout.  I now realise that my overworking was due to a lack of self-belief that I truly deserved my amazing successes,” the Transformational Life Coach for Entrepreneurs revealed.

Mohaphi-Banks, who is a proud and happy mother of two explained that women almost always tried to do everything by themselves and her biggest take away from her own experiences was to know when you needed help and to outsource reliable people for the job.

When I asked what got her through the day, she said it was her refusal to waste a minute of her second chance and her amazing children. She noted that while she had gone through some ‘incredibly challenging times in my life’ she continued to get back up with a smile on her face and a determination to face her challenges.

 

Quebec passes bill prohibiting the niqab while using public services

Wednesday, Quebec’s National Assembly passed a law that will prohibit women from wearing the niqab while using public services.

Bill 62, ironically called the religious neutrality bill, bans public service workers, as well as people seeking government services, from wearing this any face-covering garb such as the niqab or the burka. This ban also extends to using public transportation.

It should also be noted that those who voted against the bill did so because they didn’t think it went far enough. They wanted to extend the ban to include people of authority, like judges and police officers.

To be incredibly clear: if a woman choses to wear the niqab for religious reasons, she will no longer be allowed to work as a teacher, doctor, or government agent. She will also not be able to use any of the services provided by these people and will not be able to take the bus to get there if she finds someone sympathetic to her beliefs.

The bill carefully avoids using the terms niqab or burka, and specifically says people must have their “face uncovered”, and claims this includes people who wear masks to protest. However, there are very few instances where a face would be covered and it is easy to deduce what population is being targeted by this law.

People can apply for an “exemption” to the rule; however the bill also specifies the religious accommodation “is consistent with the right for equality between women and men”, which would most likely rule out the niqab. The bill also says that “the accommodation must be reasonable in that it must not impose undue hardship with regard to, among other considerations, the rights of others, public health and safety, the effects on the proper operation of the body, and the costs involved.” This makes exemptions extremely subjective and difficult to receive.

The best part of the bill is the little disclosure at the end that says: “The measures introduced in this Act must not be interpreted as affecting the emblematic and toponymic elements of Québec’s cultural heritage, in particular its religious cultural heritage, that testify to its history.”

Honestly, if I was a politician in Quebec, I wouldn’t want this bill affecting the history or culture of my province either. It paints an absolutely despicable picture similar to other fascist countries.

I’m not a big fan of the niqab. Most women aren’t. But, I would never force a woman who chooses to wear one to remove it. I would also never prevent a woman from taking the bus or from picking up her child at school because of what she is wearing. This is not a security issue or a communications issue. This is racism in its simplest form. This is a group of people afraid of someone who dresses a bit differently. The law does not encourage “religious neutrality” as the government claims. It doesn’t prevent people from wearing a cross or a yarmulke on the bus or at the doctor’s office. It directly attacks one religion over others.

Personally, I’m hoping someone brings this bill to the Supreme Court. Quebec politicians should be ashamed at the blatant discrimination they just enacted in to law.

This is not my Canada. Is it yours?

The law is affective immediately.

Introducing Jodie Whittaker, first female Doctor Who

The next Time Lord will be a woman!

Fans of Doctor Who were surprised over the weekend with the announcement that Jodie Whittaker, an actress most known for her role in the BBC drama Broadchurch, will be stepping into the role of the thirteenth doctor! This makes her the first female lead of the 50-year-old television show.

The Doctor, an adventurer who flies around in his time-travelling phone box saving the world with a number of different companions, has always been a man — albeit an eccentric man. After such a long sting, I have to admit it’s hard to imagine the character as a woman.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. The decision itself has caused a lot of controversy. Long-time fans have said they will no longer watch the show now that the lead is female. The Internet has blown up with sexist remarks and angry sentiments from fans completely distraught that the BBC has decided to change a long-standing tradition of making The Doctor a man. A bit of an overreaction I think.

I, for one, am excited to see where Whittaker takes Doctor Who. While it will be an adjustment, sometimes change is a good thing. There has been a call for a female Doctor Who for years, and honestly, if the BBC decided to hire another white male actor, there probably would have been just as much of an uproar from female fans.

But, I really don’t understand the controversy. Doctor Who, for the most part, has always been a gender-friendly television show. It was only a few seasons ago the writers decided to make The Doctor’s nemesis a woman, despite years of the character being played by a man. I don’t remember such negativity on the Internet when Missy showed up instead of The Master.

And then, there are the companions.

The female companions were always strong-willed characters that were able to keep the madman of a Doctor in check. They asked questions, never assuming the Doctor knew what he was doing, and stood up to him when he was being selfish or high-tempered. They were, and still are, critical parts of the show. Never has a female companion simply become the love interest. In a refreshing twist for a television show, romance is just not part of The Doctor’s charm. Even The Doctor’s wife had to work hard for a little bit of action, and she played a much larger role in saving the world than she did as a lover.

Then there was Captain Jack Harkness, who was the first openly non-heterosexual character on the show. His portrayal of bisexuality (although in 2017 terms he would probably best be described as pansexual) inspired so many people that he was re-cast in the role as the lead for the spin-off series Torchwood.

And finally, in the latest Doctor Who series, writers introduced the first female gay companion.

After all of these transformations, there was nowhere else for Doctor Who to go. Having a female Doctor was necessary and should give the BBC the opportunity it needs to bring a new and refreshing take to the show after the last 50 years. Personally, I think all fans should hold their opinions until they see Whittaker in action.

But, I’m still left with one question. Considering the companions of the story are the real heroes of Doctor Who: will Whittaker’s partner in crime be male, or female? Sure, a powerhouse double female act would be absolutely amazing — but who else is itching for a male companion with a female Doctor? Or better yet, an alien!

 

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Celebrating Women: Martha Lowry

Craft liquor is becoming a big business in Canada, with new distilleries popping up in big cities across the country. Despite the popularity gain, it’s still very much a male-oriented field, even in Toronto where is seems as though there is a beer or spirit festival every month. Meet Martha Lowry, the only female distiller in Toronto, who recently launched Mill Street Brewery’s first ever Small Bach Gin.

Women’s Post sat down with Lowry to talk about how her work with Mill Street and how she became a distiller.

Q: Congrats on recently launching the first ever Small Bach Gin at Mill Street Brewery in Toronto. Tell us what the process was like for you?

A: Thank you! I am very excited about the gin. The gin was a long time in the making with many test batches on my trial still. When thinking about how to make the gin I started by thinking about what botanicals I would want to use. Gin always contains juniper and typically has coriander. I knew I also wanted to include hops because they have so many different flavour possibilities. I was sure I could find one that would work with the bright and fresh gin I was dreaming of and I thought it would be a great connection to our brewing roots here at Mill Street. After I found my favourite hops I experimented with all kinds of botanicals, wanting to create something complex but not muddled. I settled on my ten botanicals after many trials and combinations of flavours.

You are the only female distiller in Toronto – how does make you feel and was it difficult to follow your passion?

It makes me very excited for the industry. I think we are only going to start seeing more women in distilling. I can’t wait for the day when I see a whole crew of women running a distillery. So far, I have been really fortunate in that I have, for the most part, been met with people who want to help me on my journey. Sometimes I get a bit of surprise, and not full understanding, but not too much has really stood in my way.

You are a handful of female distillers in Canada what would you say to someone who wanted to follow in your career footsteps?

Reach out to women’s industry groups and connect with as many women in the industry as you can. The women I know in the industry are amazing, strong, passionate, and we tend to look out for one another. Do a lot of research and reading, and tasting (the fun part)! Try to get yourself into a distillery to see it all in action and decide if it is something you love. There are a million different ways to get yourself into distilling. See what others have done and figure out if that is a path that can get you there.

What kind of skill set does one need to be successful in what you do?

One of the best parts and craziest parts of my job is that you are doing a million things at once. So you must be good at multitasking and prioritizing. A small distillery means that you get to do everything, which keeps it wonderfully fun and wonderfully busy. You must have a good palate and confidence to make decisions on product flavours. A love of people is a must. I work alone, but I am constantly interacting with the public on tours and tastings. A strong science background is necessary to understand distilling. Although I do know distillers who are more artistically-minded than science-minded and make great products. It’s all about the balance between science and art for creating flavours.

Tell us about the type of craft gin you make? Is it for everyone and which food pairings does it taste well with?

Mill Street Small Batch Gin is new distilled gin. It is smooth, citrusy, and fresh and a real crowd pleaser. It has the classic juniper, but it is dialled back to let the other botanicals shine through. This is the kind of gin that can convert gin haters. At first taste, the craft gin is very fresh, like zested citrus, reminiscent of lemon drop candies, accompanied by floral notes of violets and rose. The gin is smooth and sweet, with a top note of grapefruit zest. A peppery spice comes in the middle, along with a bottom note of angelica and hops giving an earthy, celery note. The juniper comes through as a fresh pine note and the gin finishes leaving a lingering floral note. The gin has ten botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Citra hops, Lemon zest, Grapefruit zest, Angelica, Liquorice, Orris root, Rose petals and Grains of Paradise.

I would recommend pairing this gin with sushi, smoked salmon, waxy baby potatoes, grilled chicken, and soft cheeses such as buffalo mozzarella or goat cheese.

How did you come with the popular citrus flavour for summer?

I love a citrusy gin in the summer. All I crave are bright fresh flavours in the summer. I eat a lot of salads out of my garden in the summer, sipping a fresh bright gin alongside a caprese salad is probably my favourite summer evening.

Is there a typical day and what do you like most about your job?

I don’t have typical days. Which is one of the best things about my job. My favourite thing is definitely coming up with new recipes. I have a blast exploring flavours and running test batches through my lab size still. It feels like the world is your oyster when you are making something new.

When people ask you what you do as a career is it an unique title to have as head distiller?

It is. Often people do not know what “distiller” means. Most people assume it has something to do with beer, a fact that is confused by the fact that I did work as a brewer for a time. Being a distiller leads to many interesting conversations after the question “and what do you do for a living” at dinner parties.

What is next for you?

I want to keep expanding Mill Street’s Whisky program, putting down more barrels and playing with different malts and yeasts to create really unique casks.

 

 

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Introducing Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor Who

The next Time Lord will be a woman!

Fans of Doctor Who were surprised over the weekend with the announcement that Jodie Whittaker, an actress most known for her role in the BBC drama Broadchurch, will be stepping into the role of the thirteenth doctor! This makes her the first female lead of the 50-year-old television show.

The Doctor, an adventurer who flies around in his time-travelling phone box saving the world with a number of different companions, has always been a man — albeit an eccentric man. After such a long sting, I have to admit it’s hard to imagine the character as a woman.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. The decision itself has caused a lot of controversy. Long-time fans have said they will no longer watch the show now that the lead is female. The Internet has blown up with sexist remarks and angry sentiments from fans completely distraught that the BBC has decided to change a long-standing tradition of making The Doctor a man. A bit of an overreaction I think.

I, for one, am excited to see where Whittaker takes Doctor Who. While it will be an adjustment, sometimes change is a good thing. There has been a call for a female Doctor Who for years, and honestly, if the BBC decided to hire another white male actor, there probably would have been just as much of an uproar from female fans.

But, I really don’t understand the controversy. Doctor Who, for the most part, has always been a gender-friendly television show. It was only a few seasons ago the writers decided to make The Doctor’s nemesis a woman, despite years of the character being played by a man. I don’t remember such negativity on the Internet when Missy showed up instead of The Master.

And then, there are the companions.

The female companions were always strong-willed characters that were able to keep the madman of a Doctor in check. They asked questions, never assuming the Doctor knew what he was doing, and stood up to him when he was being selfish or high-tempered. They were, and still are, critical parts of the show. Never has a female companion simply become the love interest. In a refreshing twist for a television show, romance is just not part of The Doctor’s charm. Even The Doctor’s wife had to work hard for a little bit of action, and she played a much larger role in saving the world than she did as a lover.

Then there was Captain Jack Harkness, who was the first openly non-heterosexual character on the show. His portrayal of bisexuality (although in 2017 terms he would probably best be described as pansexual) inspired so many people that he was re-cast in the role as the lead for the spin-off series Torchwood.

And finally, in the latest Doctor Who series, writers introduced the first female gay companion.

After all of these transformations, there was nowhere else for Doctor Who to go. Having a female Doctor was necessary and should give the BBC the opportunity it needs to bring a new and refreshing take to the show after the last 50 years. Personally, I think all fans should hold their opinions until they see Whittaker in action.

But, I’m still left with one question. Considering the companions of the story are the real heroes of Doctor Who: will Whittaker’s partner in crime be male, or female? Sure, a powerhouse double female act would be absolutely amazing — but who else is itching for a male companion with a female Doctor? Or better yet, an alien!

 

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Woman of the Week: Manjit Minhas

Be concise and know your financials — that’s Manjit Minhas’ advice for young entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas.

Minhas is the co-founder and CEO of Minhas Brewery, Distillery, and Winery, and is one of Canada’s new Dragons on the hit CBC show Dragon’s Den. She is a straight-forward and blunt businesswoman with an incredible passion for innovative ideas. When she speaks of the new products she is constantly exposed to on Dragon’s Den, she does so with tremendous respect and excitement.

“I see myself in a lot of these entrepreneurs,” she says. “I know there is no book to map these challenges. I love that I can help guide them and, on the flip side, help people stop when I think they are dumping their own money, and sometimes other people’s money, on something that in my experience is not going to work.”

“If I can save someone’s livelihood, that’s necessary and my role as a mentor and venture capitalist.”

The 36-year-old started her own business at the age of 19 after her first year of university, where she was studying petroleum engineering. At the time, her father had been let go from the oil patch and decided, with much pushing from his friends, to go into the liquor business. He purchased three stores in Calgary. Minhas and her brother grew up in the industry and both realized there was an opportunity for growth.

The siblings sold their car for $10,000 and launched Mountain Crest Spirits. “I discovered that bars and restaurants were not brand loyal,” Minhas says. “They were looking for cheapest bar stock that week.” The idea was to create good quality spirits that, because of the low price, restaurants would become accustomed to and the result would be loyalty. Tequila and Irish cream were some of their best sellers.

“Our goal was, service, quality, and volume volume volume. That was the start of our real big empire story.”

In 2002, they launched into beers. Their first beer, a classic mountain lager, was made with only four ingredients and sold for only a dollar, which was unheard of at that time. They eventually purchased their first brewery in Wisconsin — the second oldest brewery in the U.S. — and since then, the company has grown immensely. Minhas and her brother now have breweries in Calgary and Mexico, as well as two wineries in Chile. Their products are sold throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Ontario, and Manitoba, as well as 43 states throughout the United States and 15 other countries in Europe, Asia and South America.

In 2016, Minhas’ companies made over $187 million in revenues. Minhas has been honoured with several industry awards for her success, including PROFIT magazine’s “Top Growth Entrepreneur”, Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs in Canada, Canada’s Top 40 under 40, and the Sikh Centennial Foundation Award, among others.

“I can say I didn’t have much of a typical university life, but no pain no gain,” she says. “My sacrifice was my 20s, and I guess I say my education because I could have done better. I had other dreams and passions and I’m glad that I did. I don’t regret the last 17 years.”

Minhas is constantly looking for ways to expand and grow her thriving business. They started to fashion new beer flavours, even appealing to the gluten-free crowds and the boxer beer enthusiasts. When Minhas purchased her first brewery in Wisconsin, she also happened upon the rights and recipes to the old-fashioned soda the facility owner made during prohibition. This inspired her to continue that business, selling soda and soda-inspired nano-filtration boxer beer. This summer, they are adding new flavours of boxer beer, including black cherry and ginger. Last year, they added hard root beer, grape, and cream soda to their repertoire.

“We had a great award-winning soda line that we added clear malt base too — a proprietary method we have discovered,” she says. “We clarify it and it becomes colourless, tasteless, odourless and we add alcohol to the soda. There is no bad aftertaste of beer because we’ve taken that taste out in order to taste the soda, unlike other brands in the market. Innovation is key to success.”

In 2015, Minhas was invited to appear in Dragon’s Den, a Canadian reality television show that allows entrepreneurs to pitch business ideas to potential investors — known as “the Dragons”. She prides herself on her bluntness and her honesty, but above all else, she loves the mentoring aspect of the show. Minhas says she was surprised by how many products she has seen that didn’t already exist in the market. Her investments are plastered proudly all over her website.

“I do believe it’s important for women to support each other and people in different industries to talk to each other,” she says. “In my industry, there is not a lot of women. It’s about guiding a newcomer, a new entrepreneur through the challenges everyone has — work-life balance, finances, regulation, all those things that are really generic to any business, human resources. That, I feel, is my biggest contribution.”

Minhas starts filming season three of Dragon’s Den at the end of this month.

 

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#HealthAtEverySize: Big Fit Girl

As a plus-size woman, I rarely read self-help books. I find them degrading and useless. They make me feel like I’m not good enough. The authors, most of whom are tiny celebrities that can afford personal trainers and in-house chefs, put an emphasis on weight and size. They suggest cutting our carbs, eating only low-fat foods, exercising seven days a week, and attending boot camps to ensure your body is “bikini ready.”

For plus-size women, these recommendations can cause anxiety and depression, and 90 per cent of the time result in fast weight loss and even faster gains after the fact.

Big Fit Girl is an exception to that sentiment. This book follows the personal story of author and plus-size athlete and personal trainer Louise Green on their journey towards athleticism. The book is full of body-positive messages and completely dismisses the idea that health is related to a number on a scale.

For example, did you know that about 40 per cent of obese men and women have healthy blood pressure and normal cholesterol? And yet, most of those people are judged by the size of pants they are able to squeeze into.

 

Green runs through how the fitness industry as a whole discriminates against size and fails to meet the specific needs of plus-size women. Athleticism, according to Big Fit Girl, doesn’t equate with weight or size. It is something that can be measured by ability, strength, and endurance. In essence — a healthy body doesn’t necessarily mean a bikini body and the fitness industry needs to come to that realization.

I’ve been struggling with my own health journey for a while, and reading this book gave me the inspiration I needed to keep going. It begins by shattering stereotypes and discussing the lack of body diversity in advertising, media, and branding. Green asks her readers to make a number of pledges, including avoiding companies that don’t provide options for larger body types and eliminating negative, body shaming messaging.

As encouragement, Green lists the social media information of a number of professional plus-size athletes who, despite their size, have become award-winners in their field. The book is slam-packed with stories and quotes from plus-size athletes, outlining their peaks and valleys, as well as their success.

Big Fit Girl is a wonderful combination of athletic and nutritional advice, motivational success stories, and myth debunking. In between the storytelling, Green includes a number of recipes, simple stretches, her favourite workout playlist, and a training regime for a 5k race.

Green wants her readers to succeed, but not only because she wants them to accomplish their personal goals. Instead, she wants to start a movement: plus-size women have a prerogative to prove to society that they can be healthy and active. The more people that see plus-size women on the racetrack, the more it will be normalized.  “Whether you are an avid walker, a triathlete, a ballroom dancer, or an Olympic weightlifter, or if you aspire to be al these things and more, your presence as a plus-size woman working out in our society is creating a much-needed shift. And because we don’t see women of size as much as we need to in advertising, television, movies, or other media, it’s up to us – you and me – to inspire others to join our ranks.”

Ultimately, this book taught me a number of things, but these three stand out: Don’t be afraid of trying something because you think you will be limited by your size. Aim for health and fitness above weight loss and dieting. And practice self love, because you ARE an athlete.

Big Fit Girl will be available in stores on March 18.

‘Love Your Age Fitness’ guru Kate Maliha on staying healthy

The cliché, ‘age is just a number’ can be your reality if you look after your mental and physical health.

Kate Maliha, director of Love Your Age Fitness in Vancouver, is a Gerokinesiologist – certified as a Functional Aging Specialist and Medical Exercise Specialist – who believes exercise needs to be more thoughtful as we get older. Women’s Post sat down with Maliha to learn more about her business and her experience in the fitness industry.

Q: When did you form the company Love Your Age and why?

A: I saw there was a real need for programs geared to experiences of aging. I decided to go back to school to learn more about exercise and aging, so I got my masters degree. While my focus in human kinetics was on a variety of areas related to the aging body, I was particularly interested in the social aspects of exercise as we get older, in knowing more about what keeps people exercising as they get older.

My experience in the fitness industry prior to my graduate degree was that the industry did not seem to reflect an understanding of life as we get older and was fairly one-note in terms of both message and offerings – so I wanted to help change how the fitness industry provides solutions for older bodies.

What did you see were problems in the industry, in terms of responding to people who were getting older?

There aren’t a variety of fitness options that adjust for the changes people experience when they get older. For instance, what happens when you get an injury, or have a medical condition and you can’t do your favourite class or sport? Exercise needs are varied as we age, just as the experience of aging is different for everyone. Some exercise needs to be modified for a medical condition or a chronic condition, and some exercise needs to actually be the medicine for a health condition. And just as with any medication, there are specific dosages and specific prescriptions for exercise depending on your health. We need specialists in functional aging to really focus in on these aspects, rather than generalists. And as exercise specialists in aging, our focus is on the nuances of many, many different aspects of aging and the body.

You have a very personal story related to what you do?

Life has an interesting way of driving home lessons we really need to learn. During the course of completing my graduate degree I had both my children – really lucky for me actually, because I had experienced infertility for seven years. I had complications though, and my health really suffered. I also had trouble putting my health before all my family responsibilities. Here I was, after having my second child, and my body seemed broken. I had back pain, some incontinence from child birth, I couldn’t move quickly like I used to, getting up off a chair was hard, let alone the floor. I was stiff, tired. I understood what people mean when they say they feel old, regardless of their actual age. So I was really fortunate that I had lots of research information on functional exercise for aging, and I could apply that to myself.  I was able to take the information I had learned and get my function back, and be really healthy and pain free.  Now I’m so excited, it feels like having super powers, to have applied the knowledge and seen my body bounce back.  And I fully understand what it feels like, to be broken, in a sense. And then get put back together.

What excites you in your role as Director of Love Your Age?

A: Managing stress and keeping emotionally strong were the main reasons I got into the fitness profession 25 years ago, and it’s still my main motivator. It’s really exciting to see where the research is going now in terms of exercise for both mood and cognition. When we think about how we want to age, it’s great to think of the body but we aren’t bodies alone. They aren’t separate from our minds. We need to have strategies to optimize mental and cognitive health if we are going to age well. And new brain research in neuroscience supports the idea that the brain can regenerate, this concept being termed, neuroplasticity. That’s why our team created The Brain & Body Workout. There are just so many aspects of exercise for aging well, and they are all important. We can’t leave out cognition and mood. So we’ve incorporated research-based techniques used in brain therapy, techniques that work on the interplay between cognitive and physical aspects of balance training, as well as mind-body techniques. We are fortunate to have staff with specialities ranging from Osteofit and Steady Feet as well as research experience in brain health and socio-cultural aspects of exercise. We’ve been able to create something new and exciting.

 

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