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Fitness for All

Aug/05/2023 / by Team Seema

Coach Hina Laeeque works to help South Asian women stay active

When Hina Laeeque was young and trying a home workout routine with her sister, a friend told her, “I don’t know why you bother. You’re brown, you’ll never have abs.” The comment stuck with her so much that she just assumed people of a certain background couldn’t get fit. But after a period of working hard in the healthcare field and having children, she found her way back to home workouts, and soon found herself feeling better than ever. 

“I had an assumption that I had to go to the gym and be there for an hour working out every day,” she says. “That just didn’t work for me as a busy mom that worked 9 to 5. It didn’t make sense to go to the gym for an hour, come back home to make dinner and handle bedtime. It just wasn’t feasible for my lifestyle.” But when she tried home workouts, she realized that a combination of good dumbbells, bodyweight movements, and cardio, she could get in the best shape of her life. 

Since then, she’s been on a mission to help South Asian women live an active life with her Empowered Fitness coaching. “We pour into others a lot, our family or children or career,” she says. “These are highly intelligent, brilliant women, but they don’t fill their cup up first. I’m really trying to change that narrative in our community that you can be fit and active, and you can be all the things you need to be. But it starts with you and filling up your cup.” 

Here are a few of her favorite tips for women looking to get started on their fitness journey: 

  • Start With Your Why. This often might start with a typical “I want to lose 20 pounds,” but it helps to really understand what Laeeque calls “the deeper why” like wanting to run around with your kids, take care of elderly parents, or have energy after their 9-to-5 job. 
  • Commit to a Plan. “Goals are great, but you need to have a plan,” says Laeeque. “You could have the best gym or best home workout, but if you don’t know what you’re doing you’re not gonna get to your end goal.” That’s where a coach can help get you started and design the ways best fit for your lifestyle. 
  • Adopt a Back to Basics Eating Plan. Skip the fad diets in favor of ensuring you have a balanced macro-driven diet, loaded with whole foods and lots of water.. 


Studies show that South Asians who engage in regular physical activity can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by up to 50%.

Calling the Shots 

The CDC is urging the public to get back on track with their vaccines this month

During the pandemic, healthcare providers saw adults and children lag behind in their routine immunizations. While numbers are slowly bouncing back, the CDC notes that many are still behind schedule. Thankfully, August marks National Immunization Month, as a way to remind the public about the importance of staying up-to-date on vaccines, especially as back-to-school ushers in increased chances of spreading preventable illnesses. 

In 2019, the United States had more than 1,200 cases of measles, the greatest number of cases in the US since 1992, stemming in part from missed vaccinations. Numbers have also dropped for the flu vaccine. dropping five percent for children 6 months to 17 years old. The CDC notes these drops put students at higher risk for illness and absenteeism, which can result in hindered academic performance. While there’s a lot of myths and misinformation about vaccines, which has only spread in the social media era, millions of immunizations are given yearly and side effects tend to be very mild, typically pain or swelling at the injection site. 

Doctors can advise on the best schedule and vaccines for you or your child, and you can also find a helpful color-coded chart online to keep you on track at


3 out of every 4 adults are missing one or more routinely recommended vaccines.  

Source: CDC

Saving The Elephants in the Room

3 Places Protecting the Pachyderms

The Academy Award-winning Netflix documentary The Elephant Whispers, set in south India, opened many people’s eyes to the plight of pachyderms around the world, leaving many people wondering what they could do to help. Recognizing the gentle giants on World Elephant Day, held every year on August 12, is one way to start. Here are 3 places you can donate your time, visit, or volunteer to help: 

Wildlife SOS, India

Wildlife SOS is committed to fostering harmony between humans and wildlife (including elephants) by implementing welfare and conservation strategies.

Several projects under Wildlife SOS are focused on elephants. These include the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre (ECCC) in Mathura, a refuge for abused, captive, and exploited elephants. The Elephant Rehabilitation Centre (ERC) in Haryana. And India’s first Elephant Hospital in Uttar Pradesh, where veterinarians and skilled staff care for injured, socially isolated, malnourished, and emotionally distressed elephants.

Tiger Tops Elephant Camp, Nepal

Launched in 1964, Tiger Tops wasn’t always an ethical sanctuary, but transformed itself in 2016, ceasing all elephant safaris. It became the first sanctuary of its kind in the country. With a focus on elephant well-being and responsible, sustainable tourism, the camp aims to foster educational interactions between humans and elephants in their natural habitat.

Tiger Tops provides spacious enclosures for elephants, allowing them to exhibit natural behaviors, socialize, and roam freely. It has two locations: in Chitwan’s Tharu Lodge and Bardiya National Park’s Karnali Lodge in southern Nepal. These allow visitors to explore preserved jungles and observe elephants, tigers, rhinos, crocodiles, leopards, and deer.  

The Elephant Freedom Project

The Elephant Freedom Project is an ethical sanctuary in Kegalle, between Kandy and Colombo and two hours from the airport. The project’s primary aim is to provide a safe, nurturing environment for elephants rescued from captivity or abusive situations. It also promotes responsible tourism and raises awareness about the importance of elephant welfare.
They have two elephants rescued from the riding and logging industry, and hope to increase that number to three soon. They allow a limited number of visitors to interact with the elephants by feeding and bathing them. There is absolutely no elephant riding.


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