Muftiah Jokomba, a Nigerian by birth and upbringing, embraced Houston as her true home after relocating at the tender age of 10. As a devout Muslim, she passionately dedicates herself to improving the mobility and overall well-being of generations, serving as a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Her academic journey led her to South College, where she was part of the pioneering hybrid PT program, further solidifying her expertise in the field. She honed her multifaceted talents, not only excelling in the healthcare arena but also gracing runways and editorial spreads as a high fashion model. Residing in Manhattan after her move from Los Angeles, she continues to illuminate the realms of physical therapy and modeling, embodying resilience and determination as the youngest of three children, raised by a single mother in the face of loss at a young age. Muftiah finds immense joy in her role as an aunt to three adorable nieces and nephews, cherishing family bonds and communal ties. Fluent in Yoruba and Nigerian pidgin English, she carries her heritage proudly, bridging cultures and connecting with diverse communities. Her love for travel has taken her to over 15 countries, enriching her global perspective.
Beyond her professional pursuits, Muftiah finds solace and expression through yoga, dance, and the art of pole dancing, celebrating the beauty of movement. She delights in various hobbies, from reading and cooking, where her culinary arts degree finds its purpose, to capturing moments through the lens as an avid photographer. Co-founding “TheOne…,” an events company deeply rooted in African influence, Muftiah aspires to share the richness of African culture with the world, curating upscale and exclusive experiences that resonate with a global audience.
Follow Muftiah @themodel_pt
Can you share a bit about your childhood in Nigeria before relocating to Houston? How do those early experiences shape who you are today?
I was born and raised in Lagos, which is the hub for everything in Nigeria. Heck, it’s probably the first-place people think of when they hear Nigeria. Towards the last few years before relocating, we moved around the state a lot for several reasons; at the time my dad had just passed away while my mom was in the US. Having to navigate life with my older siblings, the oldest about 15 at the time; moving from boarding school then family house to family house and having experiences that I cannot even begin to share, until we finally insisted that we were fed up and wanted a place for ourselves. These experiences are what I truly believe has been my driving factor to want more for myself and my family. It taught me to be self-reliant, maybe even overtly so, because I’ll rather do things myself 10x before asking someone to do it for me once. It also taught me that a lot of people at their core only care for themselves and whatever they think they can get out of you. Some people don’t help for selfless reasons and that’s ok, recognizing that and moving accordingly is a life lesson I learnt at a young age. The cards life handed me early on, is closely related to the care and compassion I have for people today, because I get it. I know what it’s like to be in a place of need and to feel vulnerable; so, I do my best to assist people in those positions.
Moving at the age of 10 must have been quite an adjustment. What were some of the most significant differences you noticed between Nigeria and Houston?
Asides from the accents, and the general American culture, especially at school, there isn’t much difference between Houston and Nigeria. It is a commonly known notion that Houston is mini-Nigeria. As a matter of fact, I remember the drive home from the airport, my siblings and I were looking out the window at the streets and wondering if we were really in America. Of course, there was a visible difference, but the America we were seeing wasn’t the America, they show you in the media. I can’t tell you what it is that we were expecting to see, but it wasn’t what we got. So, asides from having to learn to understand the American accent and become familiar the American culture and mannerisms, it was a smooth transition.
Houston is “home” to you—what do you love most about the city and how has it contributed to your identity?
Omg, I love everything about Houston! The air, the people, the culture, the access to almost everything! Like I said earlier, Houston is pretty much Nigeria and if there is one thing about me, it’s how Nigerian I am at my core. There is an African store or restaurant on every other street, foods, and experiences you won’t find anywhere else in the country, and if you do, it’ll be a mere shadow of what you can get in Houston. Houston is where I go to feel my most authentic self, in America, that is.
Being the youngest of three siblings and the child of a single mother, can you tell us about the values and lessons you learned from your family that continue to guide you?
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.
Could you share a cherished memory or valuable lesson from your time at Howard University that has had a lasting impact on your personal and professional life?
Ok, this isn’t a cherished memory from Howard, but it was definitely a valuable lesson (laughs). So, there is this Chemistry professor, let’s call him Dr. Smith, he is notorious in the science department. Everyone knew and warned you heavily to avoid his class as much as possible, because he was just a general nightmare. It was sophomore year, and I hadn’t started the classes on the Chem track as required for a bio major and if I didn’t that semester, I would end up falling behind. As fate would have it the only classes available were either an 8am class, and I was bent on not taking any more of those, or a 2pm class with Dr. Smith. I opted for the 2pm class, because, well how bad can it really be, sure people are just exaggerating, I thought to myself. They were not. On the first day of class, he walked in the class and went straight to the board. On it, he wrote the words “Mr.”, “Professor” and “Doctor”; then he went back and canceled out the first two, to circle the last; then turned to the class and said, “My name is DR. Smith, not Mr. or Professor, it is Doctor, you will only refer to me as that or you won’t get a response.” Then took out his notes and started teaching. To make a long story short, that was the only “C”, I received in my entire college career! Looking back, I’m sure I would have been just fine taking that 8am class and would have probably graduated with a higher GPA, but my decision taught me a couple of lessons. 1. Sometimes it pays to listen to people, experience is the best teacher and while we might think not everyone’s story will be like ours, we are not always the exception, which brings me to my second lesson. If you want to be the exception, you must be willing to put in exceptional work; no matter what you’re doing.
From South College’s hybrid PT program to your culinary arts degree, you’ve pursued diverse educational paths. How have these unique skills shaped your multifaceted career?
I have always been one to get obsessed with something and learn all I can about it until it no longer interests me, or it sticks! Same goes for hobbies and my career path. Knowing that there are always new avenues or approaches to doing what I love is part of the reasons why I keep going. That is predominantly why I am here right now, looking to use
my knowledge and skills as a PT to get in front of the health and wellness conversation as opposed to staying on the sidelines of rehabilitation.
You’ve traveled to over 15 countries—what’s one place you visited that left an indelible mark on you and why?
Absolutely! I think the 6 months I spent in Fiji takes the cake on that one. No matter where I go, the one thing I always seek is to experience the true culture and ways of the people there, and none has beaten that of the Fijian people so far. Not only are they some of the nicest people ever, but they are like that and almost always have no ulterior motive. I can’t think of a place where both men and women have been so welcoming, where strangers come up to you in a bar to buy you drinks just as a way of saying welcome to their country and don’t proceed to spend the rest of the night bothering you! The kindness and gentility of Fijians is one to be studied, I’m not sure it’s an island thing because I have been to a multitude of islands after and haven’t gotten that level of genuine kindness from anyone. Maybe it’s a pacific islander thing!
Your expertise spans physical therapy and fashion modeling. Can you tell us about a moment when these two worlds unexpectedly collided and led to an insightful experience?
This is one of my favorite memories till date! It was during runway season in LA, and I was at a show as the assistant model coordinator and model, when I noticed one of the producers walking down the stairs wincing. So, when I had some time, I went up to her to say what I saw and ask what was wrong. She told me she has been having some knee pain and sorta dismissed me unceremoniously; I then pushed further and told her that I was a PT, and this was what I do on a daily basis. I asked that she let me see if there was anything I could do to help, even if only for a short time. She finally agrees and allows me to do some knee mobs for her. Upon finishing, she gets up and exclaims that her knee feels so much better, she gives me a hug and continues to run the show with less visible pain. It’s not often that I get to use my PT skills in the modeling world, partially because there is hardly ever the time or opportunity, since everything moves so quickly; but seeing how spending less than 10 mins helping her, allowed her to run the show a lot more efficiently still gives me warm fuzzy feelings.
As a Doctor of Physical Therapy, how do you approach your practice to create a personalized and holistic approach to patient care?
I like to focus on the individual and not the condition. I can have 3 patients with the same presentation and treat them all differently. Of course, there are somethings that will be the same, but being able to discern what a patient needs whether it be more manual therapy vs exercises, or they need advice on diet and lifestyle changes outside of the clinic, is how I like to treat my patients.
Fashion modeling requires a lot of dedication. What’s the most exhilarating or challenging moment you’ve faced on the runway or during a photoshoot?
My most exhilarating moment on the runway had to be the period I spent being a model coordinator assistant and a model. Showing up every day for 3 days in a row, running around getting models in order, helping designers, and the producers of the show; while also making sure I was fitted on time, in hair and makeup on time, and lining up myself and the other models for the runway. I got to learn the intricacies of running a show, while still being in the show. By the end of day 3, I’d lost my voice and was running a fever, but it was easily one of the best 3 days of my career thus far!
You’re fluent in Yoruba and Nigerian pidgin English. How do these languages allow you to connect with your roots and foster cultural understanding?
Being able to relate and talk about certain things with someone or a group of people, with no one else around really being privy to what was going on is a special connection that can’t be matched. Some of my closest connections in the fashion designing 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. There is just something special about having a language and culture that instantly connects you to someone; that might not always mean that we’ll get along, but it creates a space to foster a deeper relationship.
You’ve recently relocated from LA to Manhattan. How do you manage the hustle and bustle of the city while maintaining your commitment to health and wellness?
I’ve found that the hustle and bustle of the city can be advantageous to a healthy and balanced life. Unlike in LA, which favors the driver, NYC is geared towards the commuter lifestyle, which means you’re walking more, an automatic boost for your health. Now one thing I always say, and I think everyone should put into consideration is how you do something. A task as simple as walking to the subway can either be this long arduous thing that you must do, and with every step you take, you allow your weight sink down to your legs and let gravity get the best of you and you wonder why you feel so down and tired. As opposed to pushing away from the ground with every step you take, breathing consciously, staying aware of your core and entire posture as you make your way to your destination. Both scenarios involve nothing else but walking, a task you do daily, but when you bring in intentionality, then you are able to get so much more out of it, both physically and mentally. Apply the same principle to almost everything and the commitment to living a healthy lifestyle will become second nature.
Tell us about your journey into pole dancing as a form of exercise. What drew you to it, and how has it contributed to your overall well-being?
My very first pole dancing class was as a roommate date with my college roomie. We signed up for the class because we found a sale on groupon and wanted to go live out our
sexy dancer fantasies. Till date, I’m not sure I’ve had quite a humbling experience; when I tell you that I was sore for at least 3 days following the beginner class, I’m not exaggerating! But it was a good type of sore, the type I had never experienced from having so much fun! My roommate and I both said we were going to be regulars at that studio, but that never happened, and I didn’t attend another class until years later in LA. Pole dancing looks quite easy and the dancers do an exceptional job of making their flow and poses look effortless, trust me, it’s not! When navigating around a pole, you’ll use muscles and have to recruit strengths you didn’t think you had. You will literally feel yourself get stronger with each class you attend; you’ll gain the confidence to try new moves and techniques and the feeling you get when you do them is an unmatched mix of fear and excitement, I haven’t been able to find elsewhere! If you’re lucky enough to find a studio with regular classes, you’ll find yourself becoming a part of a community of people that not only care about their physical well-being but are also able to help you grow in more ways than one.
You’re a co-founder of “TheOne…,” an events company celebrating African culture. Can you share a memorable event that truly encapsulated the essence of what you wanted to achieve with this endeavor?
When my cofounder and I set out to start this company, it was because we were tired of the same old boring party scene that all African/afrobeats events in LA offered. We wanted to showcase the diverse ways we can celebrate African music, culture, and presence, while still looking good and having an even better time! 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 still managed to fit the theme! We had an array of foods with strong West African and East African presence. Everything from the décor to the DJ lineup were all intentional in portraying the richness and multifaceted elements of what it meant to be African. It was an amazing night to say the least!
Cooking and photography seem to be among your passions. Could you tell us about a dish you love to cook and a photograph you’ve taken that holds special significance?
I’m honestly not sure I have a specific dish that I love to cook, what I usually prefer to do is play around in the kitchen. I love playing with flavors, masking certain tastes with others, and generally having fun in the kitchen. There are staple items I always cook of course but changing the flavor dimension to elevate a meal is by far what I love the most about being in the kitchen. Photography wise, there is a shoot that I did a while back in 2021, and it’s my favorite picture till date; it was an inspo look I found on Pinterest and was automatically obsessed. I set up everything for the shoot, got ready and started shooting. For some reason, the light wasn’t right, the camera was refusing to focus, literally everything was falling apart. I got so frustrated and just left it alone, thinking I was done; but as I sat there watching TV with a full face of makeup, I got upset with
myself for giving up, so I got up and tried again. Lo and behold, everything clicked that time around and I now have what is the best picture I’ve ever taken of myself.
What does a typical day look like for you, balancing your physical therapy work, modeling commitments, and personal interests?
A typical day for me balancing the multiple aspects of my life usually starts with my morning routine. This usually involves praying, exercise (usually yoga), meditation and journaling. While I don’t always get to follow this routine a day that I can, already promises to be a good one. If I have a photoshoot or maybe some castings, most of the day will be structured around the modeling commitment. I’ve been lucky enough to work in places with flexible schedules, so its often easier to go into work later or to leave early for a shoot.
I’ve also had days where I left my house only planning on being a PT for the day and I’ve had to take an early lunch because my agent called me to attend a casting. During runway season, I just pray for a later call time, so that way I can at least see my patients for the day and worry about the paperwork later; sometimes I’ve had to take the day off. 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. When I get home from being a model or a PT for the day is usually when I clock in to work for my brand, TheModelPT. All the content planning, scripting, recording, editing is mostly done by me in whatever free time I have. There are days where it all gets overwhelming and I just want to watch TV all day, and I occasionally give in to those days, but an average day is spent laying the groundwork.
Your mission is to help generations age and grow better with mobility. How do you see the future of healthcare and wellness evolving, and how do you plan to contribute to this evolution?
Luckily and by my observation on social media and what have you, there has been an uptick of people getting more active and involved in caring for their health. People are in the gym more now, even if it’s to get the aesthetically pleasing look; on the other hand, there is also the huge influx of people willing to go under the knife for the same results. I see the future of healthcare and wellness evolving into a split field. One with those that are getting active now and hopefully will stay that way beyond the benefits of the physical, the ones that will suffer greatly because they took shortcuts, not thinking about the future implications and, then the ones that’ll still be somewhere in the middle, either not bothering to participate at all or are stuck on the constant up and down spiral. Those are the ones I have plans for. The ones that are already privy to the benefits of healthy living, but for one reason or the other aren’t involved. The ones that might desire a more active life but are stunted by limiting beliefs. I want to show generations, both old and new that while aging well might seem like a hard thing to do and if you talk to older people, they’ll tell you aging is very hard, it can be really simple. Simple, not easy.
As an advocate for health and wellness, what advice would you give to someone looking to start their journey toward a healthier lifestyle?
Start, and I can’t stress this enough, with what you like! Leading a healthy lifestyle can be completely different from person to person because, we all don’t have the same interest. I do pole dancing because I like to dance and found a way to challenge myself even more, while still doing what I enjoy and reaping the amazing benefits of it. I am convinced that the reason why most people default on their health journey is because they are trying to follow some formula given to them by a stranger. A person who knows nothing about your likes or dislikes and couldn’t steer you the right way even if they did. I’m not saying not to find external inspiration, because they do help, what I am saying is find it in a place that works for you. If you enjoy dancing like I do, but don’t love the thought of the pole, then try Zumba. You don’t like eating vegetables but still need your nutrients, try a smoothie; if that’s not your thing, try making stir frys with a protein base and the veggies will absorb the flavor of the fat (trust me, I hate vegetables, and these are some ways of getting it into my system). When you start small and start with what you like, you’ll eventually start to find new ways to grow, and your journey will continue to evolve; but none of that will happen if you keep trying to force yourself to participate in something you don’t like. It just won’t work.
Being an aunt to three adorable kids, how do you see your role in their lives and what do you enjoy most about spending time with them?
Personally, I think my role as an aunty is to be present and spoil them rotten! This doesn’t mean that I just spoil them blindly or physically be present, but rather to provide them with that balance and access to a world we didn’t have growing up. I want them to know, and to some extent believe they do, that their aunty will always be there for them. They know that while I spoil them, I will also reprimand them as required, it might just take a lot more to get it from me than from their parents. Even as young as they are, the oldest is only 7, when I am around, we share experiences that they can’t with their parents, regardless of what we’re doing. I talk to and treat them as though they are adults, because I want them to start to cultivate the emotional intelligence it takes to navigate adulthood. I am the aunty that gives them a blank slate for anything they want or anywhere they want to go within reason and as long as they’re deserving. Seeing a smile on their little faces, or just watching them have fun in whatever capacity brings an unexplainable joy to my heart. They are forever my babies and I, their cool aunty, a role I don’t take lightly.
Looking ahead, what exciting projects or goals do you have in mind that will continue to blend your passions for health, fashion, and culture?
Among other things, 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.