Growing up in East India, Ashar Minhas never even saw a gym.
“Traditionally back home in India, (a) woman is usually the housewife ,” she explains. “Most of them are just having kids and (being) a housewife and working at home and doing things for the husbands and nothing for themselves, really.”
Minhas’ marriage was arranged despite the fact that she already had been living in the Canada for five years at the time. Cultural rules forbade her from performing physical labor, but today Minhas trains at CrossFit VO2 Max in Grande Prairie, Alta., and she feels far better than when she was inactive.
“I never thought that I could go to the gym,” she says. “I was always thinking that I’m going to be like my mom and I’ll be sick like her.”
Minhas adds: “I never thought that I could be like this.”
A self-described “troublemaker,” Minhas decided to break with conservative cultural tradition and go against her husband’s wishes. By doing so, she’s found both mental and physical strength.
“My husband still doesn’t know that (a man) trains me,” Minhas says.
She adds: “He can see that I’m getting stronger, that I can do the things that I’ve never done in my life. It has changed lots of things in my life just coming to the gym.”
Video by Jeremy Podlog and Mike Warkentin.
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Additional reading: The Extraordinary Vijai Raj by Jesse O’Brien, published April 6, 2011.