by Aleesha Choudhry
Growing up I never considered myself to be a sporty person or someone who worked out, I only ever did home workouts just to get “thin” and never to get healthy or make my body stronger. I started taking going to the gym seriously when I saw my mother get ill. Going to the gym regularly was a real eye-opener for me because I truly discovered the benefits of working out and the importance of having a strong body. I was always a little uncomfortable going to the gym, mainly because I didn’t feel good in the clothes that I wore. I hadn’t realised just how limited the options of clothing were for women’s activewear, especially modest activewear (and kudos to the girls who wear a hijab because it’s so much harder for them!). I resorted to wearing baggy tops or tying a hoodie around my waist, which was not practical at all since it kept on slipping and did not look cute. After a full year of struggling with what to wear I knew something had to change.
This led to the birth of Energise Activewear. It came from a place of need, and something I see so many other women go through. A lot of activewear caters to “one-type” of audience and completely excludes anyone with different needs and preferences (and there’s a lot of us). There are so many women (Muslim and non-Muslim alike) who would feel a lot more comfortable when covered whilst working out. For me, Energise Activewear became more than just clothes. It became a way of making exercise more accessible to women. In the UK there are 700,000 more inactive women than men and only 8% of the girls are meeting the recommended exercise guidelines. This is because there are so many barriers that we face as women when it comes to exercising and sports. We’re told lifting weights isn’t feminine enough, to concentrate on schoolwork rather than running, that the competitiveness of sports is too aggressive. It’s even harder for Muslim women, who are often told that taking part in sports makes them immodest and there are so few role models for them to look up to they don’t even think they can do it in the first place. For the few girls that do break the barrier, they’re banned from playing because the hijab isn’t part of the official uniform. There are so many underlying issues that women face when it comes to sports and it’s an issue that we face all around the world. Many people underestimate the seriousness of the issue but its literally killing women and destroying their health because we are not given the space to be physically active.
Energise Activewear’s mission is to make exercise and sport accessible for all women and modest activewear is one way to do this. By including more women and making them comfortable in the clothes they wear, it will encourage them to live a more active and healthier lifestyle as well as increase the diversity of women we see in sports.