Muftiah Jokomba, a native of Nigeria, found her new home in Houston after relocating at the age of 10. As a devout Muslim, she has embarked on a mission to enhance the well-being and mobility of generations. Holding a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from South College, the first hybrid PT program in the US, Muftiah currently serves as a travel PT in the bustling NYC/Manhattan area. Her multifaceted journey also includes a strong presence in the world of fashion modeling, spanning runways, high fashion, and editorial shoots. With a heart filled with wanderlust, Muftiah has explored over 15 countries, enriching her multicultural perspective and embracing her love for travel. Recently making the move from LA to Manhattan, she passionately pursues her dual careers in physical therapy and modeling. As the youngest of three siblings and the child of a single mother who lost her father at a young age, Muftiah draws strength from her family bonds and heritage. Fluent in Yoruba and Nigerian Pidgin English, she embodies her Nigerian roots with pride. Muftiah’s preferred forms of exercise include yoga, dancing, and pole dancing, reflecting her commitment to a healthy and active lifestyle. Beyond her professional endeavors, she finds joy in hobbies like dancing, reading, cooking (backed by an associates degree in culinary arts), and photography, where she enjoys both sides of the camera. Additionally, Muftiah is a co-founder of “TheOne…,” an events company dedicated to crafting exclusive experiences that celebrate the rich tapestry of African culture. In her personal life, she treasures her role as an aunt to three adorable nieces and nephews, embracing the bonds of family and community.
From Houston to NYC, with LA in between—your journey seems like quite the adventure! How has living in these diverse cities influenced your approach to both physical therapy and the fashion industry?
Well, I’ve honestly always been a city girl, born and raised in Lagos, one of the major cities in Nigeria, city life is all I really know; so inevitably it has an impact in my worlds, especially in the PT world. For example, my last rotation in school and actually first job out of school were both in, very rural, country parts of the US and I was bored out of my mind, not because of the people but the environment! I remember one of my coworkers inviting me to go watch her daughter’s softball game, because that was the event of the Friday evening and everyone in town was going to be there! Very kind gesture, and I actually went, but I just couldn’t see myself doing that for long. I enjoy the patient type diversity, the ability to connect and relate with my patients and the slightly faster pace of things that comes with being in diverse cities; and the same applies to modeling. As much as I love all aspects of being a model and a part of the fashion industry, there is just something about experiences like a runway show in NYC that you just can’t get in a lot of places!
You’re not just a doctor of physical therapy but also a successful fashion model. How do you find balance between your medical profession and the glamorous world of fashion?
It’s honestly a whirlwind sometimes, especially during runway season! As technically a full time PT and a full time model, I often find myself having to leave work or take an early lunch to go to a casting. I’ve been lucky enough that as a travel PT, I get to do things like pick where I want to work and request my day off in advance before signing a work contract; because different PT settings, like hospitals vs clinics or retirement homes operate differently. I go for the settings that have more flexibility in the daily schedule, so if I need to come in a little later because I had a morning shoot or take off because I have a show, I can make it up on a weekend or something and it’s not an issue. Sometimes the lines get blurred, and I’ve had to say no to some modeling gigs and even quit some jobs because I just couldn’t make it work; but in all, it’s manageable and I’m here.
Your passion for promoting wellness and mobility is evident. How do you combine your background in physical therapy with your modeling platform to inspire people to lead healthier lives?
I’ll say this is where my brand, TheModelPT, comes in. My primary goal with my brand is to help generations age better with mobility. No matter your age, background or anything else, as long as you’re human and you have a body, being mobile, exercise and movement is important to be able to age well. Providing different tools like “Move with Mufti” videos, which are short videos with little movement snacks that can be done anywhere and anytime to, health write ups and sharing new research on health and wellness on my social medial platforms, help bring some intentional movement and knowledge into people’s daily lives. Of course, there is often not much fun about exercise videos, but I feel like my ability as a model plays a role in getting my audience’s attention and the positive results of the value I share helps them stay, or at least that’s what I hope.
As someone who speaks Yoruba and Nigerian pidgin English fluently, do you find that your cultural background plays a role in how you connect with your patients and clients in both the healthcare and fashion realms?
This ability is not really one I get to use often unless there is a Nigerian or more specifically a Yoruba person present, and I’ve had the opportunity to use it in a few rooms in the fashion realm, but not as pronounced in the healthcare one. The care for others, especially the elderly is ingrained in your average Nigerian and is reflected in the way I interact with my patients. In the fashion realm, I remember when I first moved to LA, they had already done the casting for LAFW, but I was still determined to be in the room, so I signed up as a volunteer. As fate would have it, one of the designers showcasing his collection was a Yoruba man, and we were able to relate and laugh at certain things with no one around us was really being privy to what was going on; and seeing the traditional materials of African countries displayed in such a high fashion manner was a moment I cherished immensely. Some of my closest connections in the fashion world are Nigerian; I’ve also met other people in the entertainment industry that have become close friends because of the ability to connect through the language and culture that we share.
You’ve traveled to over 15 countries—wow! How has your exposure to different cultures influenced your perspective on health, beauty, and lifestyle practices?
My exposure to different cultures, people and lifestyle practices has really shaped a lot of my views, but one that rings the same throughout is the fact that we’re all humans and all go through the same motions no matter where we are from; the only difference is the environment that we find ourselves in. For example, one of the best healthcare experiences I’ve ever had was in Fiji, a country that is not as developed as most western countries, but one where its people take their time with all they do. Caring for people well, is not about what you have or how much resources are available to you, as it is more about how much you pay attention to them and make them feel seen and heard. I’ve also learned that we all age in the same way! The only difference, all things being considered, are the habit that we cultivate in our daily lives, which eventually shape our realities.
Your journey from being the youngest of three siblings raised by a single mother to becoming a prominent physical therapist and fashion model is inspiring. How do you think your personal story can motivate others to overcome challenges and chase their dreams?
I think one thing that stands out the most in my story is to remember where you came from. I am not only youngest of 3 siblings and the child of a single mother immigrant, but I also myself too am an immigrant. With each challenge I come across on the pursuit of my dreams, I remember how far I’ve come in life; the obstacles that were overcome on my behalf and the ones I had to fight through myself. Sometimes the urge to want to give in might come, then I remind myself that either I throw in the towel now and regret it later, or I continue to chase my dreams and reap the reward, life will continue to go on. No one can steer the course of your reality but you; keeping that in the back of my head no matter where I am or what I’m doing, is what keeps guiding me. So, if any aspect of my life should be a source of motivation, it should be that.
Your preferred forms of exercise include yoga, dancing, and even pole dancing! How do these activities contribute to your holistic approach to health and wellness?
It breaks the notion that exercise must look or feel a certain way, it doesn’t! I’ll tell you right now, while I understand the benefits of lifting weights or running on a treadmill, you’ll hardly ever find me doing either of those. I feel the forms of exercise an individual performs should be an extension of their person; I love to dance, before I even knew what a physical therapist was or cared about health or wellness, I’ve loved
it. Yoga and pole dancing are things that I was curious about at different stages in life and stuck with because I liked; your preferred form of exercise should be the same. It’s fine if you’re a lifter because you just genuinely enjoy the experience, and it is also perfectly ok if you don’t; I tried tennis at one point and didn’t like it. That’s the beauty of mobility, you can build strength, and reap the benefits of exercise in so many different ways, why do the ones you don’t like?
You co-founded “TheOne…,” an events company that celebrates African culture in upscale experiences. Could you share a memorable event you organized that beautifully combined your interests in health, fashion, and culture?
Unfortunately, because the company is new, we have only held 2 events and none it in the health sector, however, our first event was all about fashion and culture. It was called “The One that came first”, an invite only event where we requested that our guest come decked out in what made them feel royal, specifically like African royalty. Everyone that came out were dressed uniquely in their own style and fashion, but yet still managed to fit the theme! It was an amazing night to say the least!
From runway to editorial shoots, you’ve conquered the fashion world. Are there any
parallels between preparing for a high-stakes modeling gig and getting ready for a
critical patient treatment session?
I’ve actually never given it much thought, but now that I do, yeah there is! Just like I have to prep my skin, nails, make sure I pack everything I need in my model bag, and everything else that might be on a call sheet for each different gig; I also have to prep before each patient I see. Whether it be reviewing their chart so I know what I am going in to, for a new patient, or updating exercises, making sure I have the right equipment and researching new ways to treat a patient’s condition as it relates specifically to them. Like in the model world, some things remain the same across the board, but like each designer/production expects a model to present in the way they envisioned and promised, I too have to show up for my patients at my best.
One of your passions is your commitment to helping generations age and grow better with mobility. Can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or initiatives that will further your mission in the health and wellness sector?
Absolutely! My website “themodelpt.com” is coming soon. The plan is to have it hold my model portfolio on one side and a variety of mobility offerings on another. From the “Move with Mufti” series currently on my social media pages, which are short movement videos you can do anywhere, to some videos dedicated to creatives like photographers who carry big camera bags around all day, to students that spend long hours sitting in one spot or folks that work from home and stare at screens for entirely too long. It’ll have a bit of everything for everyone! I’m very excited about it all.
Follow Muftiah on Instagram @themodel_pt