It is said that you are lucky if you love what you do and do what you love. Sheema Sultan, owner of the Core gym in Karachi, proves that it is not luck that enables you to turn your passion into your vocation, but hard work, dedication and the determination to never get stuck in a rut. “By qualification I am a graphics designer but the nine to five lifestyle never suited me,” she says. “I am teaching, I am doing management, I am mentoring young people, and I am loving every minute of it.”
Sheema had always loved to exercise to the extent that she would cancel plans with friends if they ever interfered with her workout routine. She wanted Karachiites to have a workout facility in their hometown that could rival major fitness chains in countries like UK and USA. While the fitness trend is on the rise in Pakistan, the industry is still in its infancy. Most people go out and spend fifteen to twenty thousand rupees on a shopping spree in a single day, but when it comes to spending that amount once a month on their own wellbeing, there is a great deal of hesitation. “The biggest struggle for me,” says Sheema, “is educating people that fitness is a long term investment that they make in themselves.”
While being one’s own boss means one is free of the shackles of a nine to five monotonous routine, it also means that work life balance is always an elusive concept. Sheema is on call all the time but is now trying to delegate more to ensure that she can balance time and give attention at home too. When it comes to the ingredients for success, Sheema believes that trust and honesty go a long way. “If you are a business owner and trying to fool people out of their money you will be exposed very soon. I take my clients very seriously. For instance, I will never have someone who hasn’t exercised in their entire lives join an intensive boot camp,” she stressed. Not only do these traits help you professionally, they are also critical in your personal relationships.
Despite her success now, Sheema recalls that she wasn’t always this driven and dedicated. “I was the laziest person ever. I wasn’t ambitious and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Once I discovered the thing I was passionate about, it changed my life. It turned my life around. And now, it’s a moment of pride for me when clients who have experienced work-out spaces in places like Los Angeles and London tell me that joining my gym has been a life changing experience for them.”
Sheema is quite emphatic about the fact that financial independence is critical in this day and age. Even if one’s parents are well off one must have a skill that can be turned into a career. Every woman deserves the liberation that comes with that. According to Sheema, fitness and wellbeing also bring with them a unique sense of independence. Exercise, anti-ageing routines, and self-care are critical, especially for women in their thirties and forties.
It is apparent from the fierceness that lace her words that Sheema personifies passion and how, leveraged properly, it can change a person’s life. It has certainly transformed hers.