Thursday, 10 September 2009

Fitness Tailored to a Hijab

Published: September 9, 2009

THE first time Julia Shearson rode her bike after converting to Islam seven years ago, her headscarf became stuck in the wheel.

She lost her balance, and by the time she got going again she was met with stares as she whizzed along, arms and legs draped in loose clothing, her scarf billowing in the breeze.

“You have to overcome the looks,” said Ms. Shearson, 43, the executive director of the Cleveland chapter of the Council on American-Islam Relations. “It’s already hard enough to
exercise, and if you look different ... it’s even harder.”

As a Muslim woman in the United States, Ms. Shearson has found it difficult to stay fit while adhering to her religious principles about modesty. Islam does not restrict women from exercising — in fact all Muslims are urged to take care of their bodies through healthy eating and exercise — but women face a special set of challenges in a culture of co-ed gyms and skimpy workout wear.

Read the rest here.


Maryam Hajar said...

Wow, can i relate to this!! i get so many stares when i walk the community 'trail' and am somewhat hindered by the hot hijab when working up a 'sweat', so i don't walk as much as i did before converting last year...(sigh) lame, but true! this is great to see Muslimahs who are working to overcome this obstacle. Sometimes what we perceive as an obstacle is bigger than it needs to be, for me anyway. I find that although I get a passing stare or quickly averted eye-glance, people are more concerned with what THEY are doing..not me :-) Also, i find that it's good for non-Muslims to see us participating in life... and not hiding away, which only justifies, in their minds- that we are 'oppressed'...Love their work out outfits and wonderful attitude! Salamualaykum, Maryam

Amalia said...

Nice article! It's something I struggled with in England although now there is Curves which is good for women :)

C said...

Asalaamu Alaikum

There are other options too. You can get a wii fit and use it at many exercises are offered. Also you can get your own pool if you can afford it. Also you can take a walk or go for a hike.

zanjabil said...

I'm one of those sisters who could less about the stares. I just need a place or people to work out with. That is what i struggle with. As for the dress I usually wear, one of those Big & Tall man's T-shirt(it comes down to my calves)I layer it over a long sleeved T and I throw on a pair of extra wide leg yoga pants and I'm completely modest and covered. It's all cotton so not that hot, but I don't mind the heat because I want a good sweat. Good post and article.

clare said...

C- I agree about getting a wii fit! I have one and it's great because I can wear what I want & it s more comfortable than being outside in the heat or cold. I really recommend it :D
Anyway, whatever helps you to be comfortable & healthy!

Sabina's Room said...

pardon my poor English. I agree that wearing jeelbab shouldn't keep you away from fitness center or do sports. I used to work out with long sleeve t-shirt, sports trousers and spandex jeelbab. I don't mind people starring or asking about my outfit. From my experience here, non moslem can tolerate and don't make it a problem. But still.. I can't wear burqini. Too tight. I prefer swimming at private women-only swimming pool wearing normal bathing suit.
BTW, here's a link of one of spandex jeelbab in Indonesia. Preety and shar'i. Salam. :-)

Anonymous said...

i just wanted to say that not all non-muslims think muslim women are oppressed!

i am one non-muslim who's very proud -and somewhat envious - of the way muslimahs circumvent much of sexist, western culture.


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