Lahore is largely homogeneous, so how do foreign expats adjust to local life.  Aminah, executive of toni&Guy North Pakistan, shares her experience; She also talks to fellow expats, Tom and Billy about their experiences of living in Pakistan versus that abroad

Tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to Pakistan?

Aminah: I’ve been in the hairdressing industry for nearly 18 years now. I trained in Ireland and worked in Australia and Dubai before meeting my Lahori husband 12 years ago. The Toni&Guy brand worldwide is synonymous with style and diversity so I jumped at the chance to come!

Billy: I spent 4 years in London specializing in Strength & Conditioning and Pain Relief through exercise. I met the management of Structure Gym and was really impressed with their plans for the future. I knew getting in at ground level before the project took off was an incredible opportunity.

Tom: I’m an Australian Performance Coach and I’ve worked with men and women all over the world. For me fitness is not just about exercise, it’s about incorporating the mental side of fitness too. To get the chance to implement this in Pakistan was something I couldn’t pass up as Structure Gym are committed and passionate which is the way it should be!

Why do you think the health & beauty industries are flourishing?

Aminah: People have access to worldwide trends now via the internet, but also it’s becoming more and more acceptable to take care of your appearance because You want to.

Billy: I think it’s all down to social media. The need to look good 24/7 means we have to take action, and it’s great to see people embrace it.

Tom: Social media means we have everything at our fingertips. I think people now are understanding that to feel your best, you need to look your best

With your international training & experience, do you come across a lot of misconceptions in this industry, here in Pakistan?

Aminah: The short-hair debate! I was really surprised to see model Saheefa Jabbar get so much heat when our CEO Shammal cut her hair short. Hair grows, and it’s HER hair. I don’t see why people feel the need to make nasty comments if a woman cuts her hair short. That said, women here are becoming more adventurous with their hair & that’s great to see.

“Fitness-wise Pakistani people don’t invest in themselves the way people in the UK do” —Billy

Billy: Nutrition and women’s weight training

Tom: People are still in the mindset of 6 meals a day, lots of protein and old school body building techniques in order to change their physique. Whereas we train people to enjoy fitness and educate how to make lifestyle changes that are easy to maintain.

Have you had to compromise your workouts, beauty or diet regimes since coming to Pakistan?

Aminah: No, I’m really lucky that our staff are all regularly trained so getting my hair done isn’t an issue, and I go to the Structure Gym in DHA 4 which is a lovely so all I need is a chef haha!

Billy: Workouts not at all. The facilities at Structure are the same as many of the better gyms in London. Although my first haircut was in a local barbers and I left with a bowl haircut.

Tom: I’ve been pretty good. Diet is on point so far.

In terms of dealing with clients, have you found many differences between Pakistan and abroad?

Aminah: Not really. The basic expectation of any client is respect and a proper consultation. Style and colour choices vary but dealing with people one to one is the same

Billy: Fitness-wise Pakistani people don’t invest in themselves the way people in the UK do and Personal Training abroad is a lot more expensive abroad then in Lahore.

Tom: Lack of information means people are behind in terms of what a good work-out is. But people are open to learning which is great.

What’s the best food you’ve had so far in Pakistan?

Aminah: Café Aylanto in Lahore have this amazing warm avocado & prawn dish, which is phenomenal. Café Flo in Karachi do amazing scallops & Andaaz in Islamabad is incredible for desi food.

Billy: Oh man, for desi food it has to be Palak Paneer in the Residency Hotel.  For international cuisine I frequent Ga’ia and Amu in Lahore

Tom: I love fresh rotis.

Lots of people use work as an excuse not to workout. What’s the best way to motivate yourself?

Aminah: As a working mum, I literally cannot make time to work out anywhere else except mornings. I get everything ready the night before because I know I’ll sabotage myself otherwise.

“I was really surprised to see model Saheefa Jabbar get so much heat when our CEO Shammal cut her hair short”


Billy: Just do it. It’s really the only answer and you’ll feel amazing afterwards

Tom: Do it in the morning.

What difficulties to people face in Pakistan when it comes to healthy eating and exercise?

Aminah: Finding crispy green vegetables is still a mystery to me.

Billy: Culturally speaking, food here is heavy and oil-laden. You have to actively change your diet to see differences, which is hard when food is such an integral part of life.

Tom: Food choices are limited as the health food market hasn’t caught up, but light choices make a huge difference

What did you expect before coming to Pakistan and what surprised you the most?

Aminah: I spent my childhood living overseas so I was familiar with a lot of Pakistan’s culture, traditions and food. The Mughal architecture and rich heritage really blew my mind though. I had no idea how rich it was.

Billy: I didn’t know what to expect, I kind of just got on a plane blind and open-minded but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I love living and working in Lahore, and I hope to call this city home for a long time.

Tom: I’ve lived in the UAE and visited most of the Middle East so I had an idea of what to expect plus I love being in new cultures so I was very open-minded. Pakistan is a beautiful country and I love it!

To celebrate all our happy expats living in Lahore, Structure Gym are offering an exclusive ONE WEEK FREE TRIAL to “The Circuit Box” sessions. Valid til July 30th 2018. For bookings please call (042) 111 395 395. Please mention GT Magasine when you are booking.

Not only that, Toni&Guy DHA 3 Lahore are offering 10% off all skincare services. Valid til July 30th 2018. For bookings at the salon please call 0423-5731559/60. Please mention GT Magasine when you are booking.


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