Fitness is for Everyone

Zehra Allibhai is on a mission to redefine how we think about athletic spaces and communities

By: Zehra Allibhai

When I was growing up, you didn’t see Muslim girls playing sports too often. But I was lucky to have support from my family and my friends at an early age, and my love for sports was something they all got used to. So, when I first started my fitness career as a personal trainer, I wanted to offer that same support and show others that fitness was for everyone.  

As I started to share more about fitness and the holistic benefits of an active lifestyle online, I was surprised by the reactions I got. I would get comments like, “What’s the point of working out if you’re all covered up?” or “I’m surprised you’re allowed to workout” or “So silly, what’s that on her head? Isn’t she hot?” Of course, comments like these would get to me, but the positive feedback I was getting and the messages of support completely outweighed the negative.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t realize how much the fitness industry was lacking representation of Muslim women until I had people tell me how refreshing it was to see someone that looked like them working out.

I realized that with the community and platform I had created, I could help so many women who didn’t feel like they had a safe space. I wanted to make sure that seeing a Muslim woman doing CrossFit and working with fitness brands— especially a woman who wore the hijab while working out— would become the norm. I wanted people to realize that fitness was for everyone regardless of religion and what they wore. I wanted these ladies to know they weren’t alone.

Now after four years of working on The Fitnest, it’s been really rewarding to see how much this community has grown. I’ve been given many opportunities to share my passion for fitness with not only my community, but also to mainstream Canadian media outlets and publications.

I love that women can watch a workout and follow along on a fitness program that I’ve set out for them, get a great workout, and feel comfortable seeing someone that looks like them on the screen.

It has been such an amazing experience building this community and business and hearing so many stories from so many incredible women along the way. I am truly blessed to interact and connect with these women and provide them with the tools, motivation, and safe space they need to get active and lead healthy lives!

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