Exercise is good!! -my personal thoughts…

You know, I saw this picture and was like, aha! See…being covered and modest shouldn’t keep a sister from being active and exercising!!!  I really loath the “faulty” belief that a covered Muslimah can not be active and in good shape!

Several thoughts popped in my mind. First…I didnt know they have the exercise parks in Turkey-hehehhee, I thought they were just in Iran!  Generally the main park in every city has a exercise area/garden with free to use exercise equipment. On more than one occasion I’ve been picnicking at a park, got bored, took a walk, found the exercise area and got into the groove! LOL, yes, chador and all!  But, I wasnt the only one! These places are a boon to kids…they go there and burn off a LOT of energy while their parents are relaxing and its also a ncie way to stay in shape when you take your evening stroll through the park.  I miss how parks here in the US don’t generally have this type of equipment!

Then, another thought…more in line with the anti-sister exercising thing is like…okay, in Saudi we lived on a compound. It was a old and huge compound but its facilities were run down and slowly being upgraded. When we arrived the pool had just been reopened. Now, I *LOVE* to swim and jog and do loooongggggg walks. Its relaxing and healthy. OK. So I saw the pool and was like…yippe! Awesome!  I ran out, had dh buy me a suitable muhajabah worthy swimsuit and I was able to take my son swimming  by day and in the evening go alone or with them and do laps in the deep end. It was great!!! BUT, I did now and again run into problems with some of the MUSLIM men who lived on the compound.Some of them thought the pool and its surrounding area was like some mens majlis or something-and so sometimes in the evening when I figrued other families and women would be swimming, I’d show up at the pool in my burqini with my abayaah ra’as on top and my towel and googles only to find the thing full of guys! ugh! Obviously i’d just go back home. Then…once I came to know the times when the pool would generally be empty or mostly families swimming (western families) and would try to go then…to do laps and stuff…but then sometimes…those MUSLIM men, yes the ones with families themselves would show up, see my doing laps -yes in my burquini and hejab and immediately swim over to the deep end and try to swim around me! I would get sooo disgusted and usually just ended up leaving the pool! Instead of having some hayah and staying away from my area of the deepn end or waiting 20min until I leave…nope! Eventually dh started to hear via the compound grapevine about how some of the families were tisking me at my inappropriate swimming!  LOL-um?!?! – Which left me having to swim late-late-late at night when it wasnt very safe….OR during the daY…when most people were gone at work and just some of the SAHM moms where on the compound. Most wouldnt swim, now and again you’d see a western expat mom swimming but otherwise it was generally empty-UNTIL these Pakistani workers started to do work around the area and then suddenly…there went any chance to swim…because once I was swimming with my son at around noon when it was empty and sunny and they came to the area around the pool to work and saw me and literally stood there GAWKING with my mouths opened…like shocked to me a Muslim woman, in a burquini swimming!  Yah…needless to say I managed to modestly swim to the side, get my overhead abaya up and around me and scoot outta there.

But form that point…I gave up swimming-well, not entirely, I attempted a few times to swim right after fajr but found that didnt work out too well either as Id generally not wanna get up, pray and then swim. LOL, Then a bit later winter arrived and though it wasnt too cold weather wise, the temperature of the pool water really got cold and it was just not do-able anyway!  It broke my heart. It was the ONE real fitness and fun activity I had on that dang compound! Ah maybe you ask…well, why didnt your husband swim with you or go with you? Because my husband really didnt/doesnt know how to swim, I tried a few times to teach him but generally unless I really made a huge fuss about us going and swimming as a family he preferred if I swam alone and then he would take our son and go socialize with one of his buddies elsewhere on the compound. Hence i’d get a much needed break!

So now you ask…what about running? So yah, I tried that…in my hejab and a long, long, long tunic and baggy pants one late evening when you often see the western expats out running/walking on the compound but frankly…the looks, stares and creepy attitudes from yes-again, the MUSLIM men who were also out running/walking was just too much, so I stuck to walking-slooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwly. Yah…pointless. Eventiually I gave up!

I remember, one of my close friends, Deema…mom of 4, from Jordan…she would wait till her husband was home and then at 5pm go and walk with alllllllllll 4 kids…but eventually she stopped too as her husband heard-yes, via the compound grapevine, some people complaining at how immodest his wife was for walking briskly around the compound while her kids ran their bikes along side her and she pushed the baby in a stroller.

UM…thats sooo jacked up! Why is there such a distrust of women being active and healthy?


15 thoughts on “Exercise is good!! -my personal thoughts…

  1. Asalaamu Alaikum

    I have never seen exercise parks in Canada..those are awesome, lol. Thumbs down to your Saudi experience. I never hear anything good about Saudi!!! Don’t they have any indoor pools just for women? I thought I heard they did.

    • salaams, yes there are womans only fitness facilities but…first all, technically according to Saudi law…a womans only fitness facility is actually illegal…but they are legal if they are a “spa”…so you see places with fitness stuff and hair stuff and spa stuff…even stores. BUT, they are extremely, extremely expensive to belong too and contrary to popular belief, most Saudi’s are not rich. Most just scrape by, the salary rate is extremely low for locals. 2nd issue other than expense is mobility. Many, many woman do not have drivers or regular access to drivers. Its not uncommon for a large family to share 1 drive…this means ur family plus ur sisters family and cousins family and brothers family all share 1 drive. How can u squeeze in the extra trip to a spa with out a lot of advance planning and for those women without access to drivers…few men wanna come home from work and then drive their wives to a spa to work out. Y’know. Its not very easy. Generally just very well off women who have personal drivers and lotsa free time (and maids) can afford to belong to such places. Everyone else makes do with really no exercise. Maybe some also try to do a brisk walk around a mall, fully covered before the stores open. I often saw saudi women doing mall laps when the compound shuttle would drop us off at Dhahran Mall at 9am. But obv they cant do it after the stores open or once the mall gets busy.But even then, most women dont do that either. Most women frankly just sit at home, cook, clean (if they dont have maids), deal with kids and socialize. Its not a very healthy lifestyle.

      Allahu alim.

  2. Assalaamu alaikum,

    I don’t know if they call it an “exercise park” but in my city (here in the U.S.) down by the lake front they have exercise equipement installed and it includes instructions on how to use each piece. Have to go early morning though because once it gets hot it’s too crowded and definitely unbearable for anyone in an abaya.

    This whole topic gets me in a bundle. Why don’t people just mind their business? It’s not like you were dressed inappropriately and there’s nothing haraam about trying to keep healthy. That’s one thing that has really bogged me down after accepting Islam. Swimming used to be my greatest joy, but worrying about what everyone was thinking about me and how that affected dh’s attitude was just too much to deal with. Let’s face it sitting on my exercise bike at home is boring and doesn’t last long 😦

  3. Assalaamu alaikum 🙂

    Meh, people–regardless of race/ethnicity/religion–are ALWAYS going to have smack to say about others. The people who complain and tarnish the reputations of good women over working out just need to stop being overly scandalized about everything anyone else does and just deal with their own issues first.

    I like that in my hubby’s country (and it sounds like in Iran too) its cool for everyone to workout, esp. the religious families. Burkinis are totally ‘in’ as well as judo/karate and running for girls 🙂

    And in the US, I just use the kiddie gyms they have in the parks …… 🙂 I like to kick the kids off of the swing sets 😛

  4. Assalaam waliekum.
    I laughed out loud over the Pakistani men gawking at you for wearing an Islamic swimsuit. I guess they don’t pay attention to their own wives. Seriously some styles of Pakistani kameez salvar are cut so tight, they look like long sleeved, tunic-length t-shirts.
    My question is why some Muslims have to get on the overly self-righteous horse and make a mountain from a mole-hole?

  5. I’ve only seen exercise areas in Korea! There is one in a big park not far from here actually. I got no exercise at all in the UAE,especially after I moved to a small town. I did belong to a small affordable ladie’s gym in Abu Dhabi, and I could actually walk there in most area without any trouble, though there were certain area I preferred to avoid because of the gawking men. However, I couldn’t walk at all in the small town. I had used an exercise bike in the US and really liked, but there were only horribly big and expensive ones available in Al Ain. Between the ghastly job stress and no exercise I got totally out of shape and it has taken a couple of years for me to recover.

  6. I live in Los Angeles now, and if a public park in my neighborhood had equipment like this it would probably get vandalised!
    But because of all the inherent problems Islamically with exercising in public, I just gave up and now exercise at home. Alhamdulillah, my husband bought a spinning bike for me, and so I can wear what I want, stay cool and watch Al Jazeera while I work out! I just don’t see the point of suffering to work out outside/in public if you can avoid it.

  7. I live in suburban area in Dublin, Ireland. People here mind their own business. I usually cycle or jog around the park near my house with my daughters who are also wearing hijab and appropriately dressed for the exercise session. So far we never had any experience anybody looking at us in a weird kind of way.

    I suppose Irish people are generally friendly and polite, hence would try not to make you feel awkward in every possible way. Though I had heard not so nice experiences from other Muslim sisters here, but I would say they are isolated cases occurred in rough neighborhood that also happens anywhere in other countries too.

  8. AsSalaamu Alaikum,
    Its such a double standard, some men want there wives to look like the models in the magazine but she can’t go and be active. It is a bit of a challenge, I cant imagine running in abaya unless I wanna end up on the floor because I trip and fell or I passed out because I overheated. I also miss swimming. I use to swim as a little girl but of course once I came of age that stopped and swimming is the best form of exercise as it works the whole body. I wish I could have my indoor pool and swim whenever I wanted but until then…

    • It is a double standard. Muhammad pbuh didn’t have super model wives and his pbuh wives were even more in shape than the modern Muslim woman.

  9. http://www.ahiida.com/ in Australia they sale muhajabah swimmsuits they call it burqini, they made from the samematerial as normal swimsuits but then very modest , so far i know they are allowed in public swimcenters

  10. Salamz all!

    I know some Muslimas go for the burqini thing and swim in public like that, but I wouldn’t personally.
    I don’t think that so-called “Islamic swimsuits” are really modest enough at all- you can still see the shape of your body and they are too tight in the thighs/legs and arms. It just seems to me that if you wouldn’t go walking around in public dressed like that, why would you wear it for swimming?
    I don’t know what the rest of you think, but to me alot of so-called “Islamic” work-out and swim wear is a bit of a con, and I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think they’re ok.
    That’s just my personal opinion- not judging anyone who chooses to wear one- but my opinion is based on Islamic Fiqh , good sense and modesty. Any desire I have to swim- and it’s not much of a desire, admittedly- doesn’t outweigh that.

  11. aslam wa alikum sister i have to say masha`allah i like your blog … i came across this while googling pics of algerian overhead jilbabs ….. most of what i see from your blog is like saudi style jilbabs …. i`m living in algeria and i wear the algerian style jilbab …. from the back it looks like one piece of fabric and from the from it is two pieces…… but masha`allah sis i do like the different styles of jilbabs you have shown ……. i hope insha`allah to keep looking in form time to time on your blog

    jazak`allah khair for all the info on the different styles

    umm imran

  12. That’s a shame you and the other sister were gossiped about because you were exercising. Really. Why is it wrong for you two to be doing that but no one says anything about the men starring at you?? What’s more wrong there? Yep, the men gawking and starring at the women who are walking or swimming.

    It’s really sad.

  13. Love you blog. Some of us swim because we have to. I have medical issues. If I don’t swim eventually I won’t walk. I require the exercise, stretching, and swimming is the only way to achieve that for me as several doctors have lectured me. I can only imagine myself in Saudi trying to swim and people staring at me. Oh well! Stare away! Talk away!

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