ISLAMABAD’S DIGITAL DOYENNES - Sundus Jamil - Fitness Trainer & Digital Content Creator
Can you tell us more about yourself first? Who is Sundus Jamil, and what was the main reason you choose this career path in your life?
I’m a group and personal fitness trainer certified in Kettlebells, primal movement and reformer Pilates. Apart from being a fitness professional I love cooking, shower my cats with affection, enjoy reading, but don’t enjoy long walks on the beach; the sand gets everywhere. I've always enjoyed outdoor activities and have been active for as long as I can remember. I've been told that as a toddler I would walk to the park by myself, which was a few blocks away from the house, without telling anyone. Safe to say my parents learnt the hard way that I needed a lot more physical activity than the average kid. They taught me swimming at a very young age, got me into tennis, track racing and the likes. Somewhere in my 20s I took it up as a side job, a few years later I decided to take it up as a full time career.
Apart from being a fitness trainer, you are also an influential person on social media as you post a lot of workout videos and motivate people to make better lifestyle choices. When did you start your journey, and was it difficult to get to where you are today?
Off and on for about 10 years. 5 years ago I decided to take this up full time and invested in myself to get certified. What’s that saying? Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life. I have worked very hard and have made some decisions which in hindsight were probably not for my own benefit, but it's been a lot of fun and I'm very content with where I am today.
What was or is currently the biggest challenge in your profession?
Biggest challenge used to be being taken seriously as a woman in the field. With some of the biggest gyms and studios in the country being run by women, this attitude is gradually changing.
It is difficult to stay motivated all the time, and we all have our bad moments once in a while. What do you do when you lose motivation? Do you perhaps have someone or something that inspires you to keep doing what you do every day?
I try to put lesser pressure on staying motivated, and focus more on consistency. It's impossible to be motivated 100% of the time, we all have our bad days. I have a set routine for myself and try to stick to it the best that I can, that includes taking time out for myself to just take it easy. On days when I'm feeling low on energy, I take it easy. I don’t go hard at the gym. I instead focus on a mobility sequence, go for a walk, or put on my favorite song and dance it out. I'm not always motivated, but I know I always feel good after I get up and move.
How do you characterise what you do? How do you feel about the word ‘influencer’?
I only recently started a fitness profile on social media, so I don’t think I qualify as an influencer. I put up content that's me. Raw and unfiltered (especially my Insta-stories). I think not all influencers are the same: some get a bad rep.
The world is going digital, particularly with the global pandemic and lockdowns; people started working from home, many businesses moved online etc. Do you think that now even more than ever the future is online?
Not entirely online, but the digital world is definitely a second market.
We’re constantly being told about the detrimental effect that social media has on our mental and physical health? Do you ever switch off or take a break? How do you keep a check on your emotional well being?
I used to be glued to my phone, going through Instagram and Facebook obsessively which got worse during the pandemic. I either worked or browsed on social media until I fell asleep with the phone in my hand. When the pandemic hit, I like many others had extra time at home, and rediscovered old hobbies. It really helped with my emotional wellbeing, and it helped me wean away from my phone. Work for me has resumed but I've managed to stick to my hobbies and keep me away from my phone for long stretches. Answering these questions is the longest I've been at my phone for in a long while!
On a related note, we’ve seen that negativity on the internet, or ‘trolling’ can have a real impact on people. How do you deal with trolls and what advice can you give to the rest of us who have to deal with them occasionally?
Ignore. Easier said than done, but ignore. Trolls are looking for attention, and no matter how much you respond, or try to reason with them, they won’t budge. I wish I had a better answer for this.
On a more positive note, what is it about what you do that you love and that keeps you going?
The clients. It really makes my day if I can help someone reach their goals, whether it's weight loss, increasing strength and mobility, or just be able to help someone be in a better headspace after attending a session.
Who would you pick as your favourite, top three influencers (fitness or otherwise) /content creators?
Three?! I've got way too many to mention here! @shehzeen.r for her chill, feel good vibes.
@joshuaweissman for his food posts and horrible jokes
@tulin.k.design for her calligraphy, designs and visuals.
Ugh this is unfair. I needed like 10.
INTERVIEWS: H! Pakistan
PHOTOGRAPHY: SALMAN MUNIR OF QAMAR ANWAR