What happens in the ladies' locker room stays...Women in MENA gyms sweat n tell

Published March 14th, 2016 - 01:31 GMT

Rate Article:

 
PRINT Send Mail
comment (0)

Internationally known gym franchises operate from Beirut to Doha. (There’s even a health club in the Makkah Royal Clock Tower so you can squeeze in a workout before perambulating the Kaaba!). But while Middle Eastern health clubs may look like their EU and US cousins; activities inside are expected to adapt to more conservative Arab cultural norms, especially for women. Gym rats, don’t be alarmed, all is orthodox when it comes to the exercise  — you can expect the routine staples in sets and reps, cardio and classes, nothing alien there! But look again at some of the subtext to the stretching, spotting and squatting! Continue reading below »

View as list
Locker room taboo against undressing: While discreet signs do remind users that modesty is required and that nudity is off-limits – you’d think partial states of undress at least might come with the territory. Yet make no mistake – this is not the naked zone men fantasize about having peep holes into.
Reduce

Image 1 of 14:  1 / 14Locker room taboo against undressing: While discreet signs do remind users that modesty is required and that nudity is off-limits – you’d think partial states of undress at least might come with the territory. Yet make no mistake – this is not the naked zone men fantasize about having peep holes into.

Enlarge
Prayer before unlayer! Hapless foreigners can offend locals who use locker rooms to pray, as visible undies are haram near supplicated women – no matter who came first, the stripper or the devotee. Persons at prayer might block members’ access to lockers, leaving them wondering why the real offender couldn’t pray unobtrusively in a corner.
Reduce

Image 2 of 14:  2 / 14Prayer before unlayer! Hapless foreigners can offend locals who use locker rooms to pray, as visible undies are haram near supplicated women – no matter who came first, the stripper or the devotee. Persons at prayer might block members’ access to lockers, leaving them wondering why the real offender couldn’t pray unobtrusively in a corner.

Enlarge
Women eyeing you up as potential wives for their sons or nephews: You’re getting propositioned but not directly by the eligible bachelors. Who needs OKCupid when you’ve got these seasoned moms, aunts and other enlisted wife-shoppers on the job! Knock off the exercise act! (Shutterstock)
Reduce

Image 3 of 14:  3 / 14Women eyeing you up as potential wives for their sons or nephews: You’re getting propositioned but not directly by the eligible bachelors. Who needs OKCupid when you’ve got these seasoned moms, aunts and other enlisted wife-shoppers on the job! Knock off the exercise act! (Shutterstock)

Enlarge
Women ask you if the NGO/ media company you work for is recruiting because their daughters/ nieces are fresh graduates, newly retired on the sofa as full-time couch potatoes (with no relevant experience or skill set that your industry might require, mind.) If it’s not a marriage agency, let it be a job recruitment joint! (Shutterstock)
Reduce

Image 4 of 14:  4 / 14Women ask you if the NGO/ media company you work for is recruiting because their daughters/ nieces are fresh graduates, newly retired on the sofa as full-time couch potatoes (with no relevant experience or skill set that your industry might require, mind.) If it’s not a marriage agency, let it be a job recruitment joint! (Shutterstock)

Enlarge
You can forget the 30-mins workout you’d budgeted for, you need to meet and greet every familiar face you’ve come across as a regular in this social club. Half the members are in it for the extended coffee mornings where chit-chat n chai is the whole point of putting in appearances at the gym. Ladies, don’t break a sweat now! (Shutterstock)
Reduce

Image 5 of 14:  5 / 14You can forget the 30-mins workout you’d budgeted for, you need to meet and greet every familiar face you’ve come across as a regular in this social club. Half the members are in it for the extended coffee mornings where chit-chat n chai is the whole point of putting in appearances at the gym. Ladies, don’t break a sweat now! (Shutterstock)

Enlarge
Women sidling up to exercise near you (though the whole floor of machines is free) to oggle at your settings and ask you for training tips when there are staff sporting ‘happy to help’ gear on hand. (Shutterstock)
Reduce

Image 6 of 14:  6 / 14Women sidling up to exercise near you (though the whole floor of machines is free) to oggle at your settings and ask you for training tips when there are staff sporting ‘happy to help’ gear on hand. (Shutterstock)

Enlarge
Don't push it! Break into a trot, ramp up the intensity on the cross-trainer and you get funny looks as most lady's gym ‘clubbers’ prefer a leisurely stroll on the tread (gossip) mills while catching up with friends – by phone if they’re not exercise-buddying. One user reports being asked why she was jogging when she 'looked great'.
Reduce

Image 7 of 14:  7 / 14Don't push it! Break into a trot, ramp up the intensity on the cross-trainer and you get funny looks as most lady's gym ‘clubbers’ prefer a leisurely stroll on the tread (gossip) mills while catching up with friends – by phone if they’re not exercise-buddying. One user reports being asked why she was jogging when she "looked great".

Enlarge
Lure lore! At a club in a certain conservative Kingdom, treadmills sit on a mezzanine above the weight lifting zone. A male jogger objected to the ‘distraction’ of a woman weightlifter below.  A tennis coach told his female student he quit his coed gym because women athletes posed too much of a ‘distraction’. (Shutterstock)
Reduce

Image 8 of 14:  8 / 14Lure lore! At a club in a certain conservative Kingdom, treadmills sit on a mezzanine above the weight lifting zone. A male jogger objected to the ‘distraction’ of a woman weightlifter below. A tennis coach told his female student he quit his coed gym because women athletes posed too much of a ‘distraction’. (Shutterstock)

Enlarge
Supply and demand crisis over the hair dryers  — just cause they’re veiled doesn’t mean looking immaculate at all costs is not the order of play! Bed-hair or gym-and-go locks are not an option in this fastidious fashion culture. Here’s looking at you, Lebanon! (AFP/File)
Reduce

Image 9 of 14:  9 / 14Supply and demand crisis over the hair dryers — just cause they’re veiled doesn’t mean looking immaculate at all costs is not the order of play! Bed-hair or gym-and-go locks are not an option in this fastidious fashion culture. Here’s looking at you, Lebanon! (AFP/File)

Enlarge
Working out in full make-up and seemingly having visited a hair salon prior as well as presumably post for a top-up! (Shutterstock)
Reduce

Image 10 of 14:  10 / 14Working out in full make-up and seemingly having visited a hair salon prior as well as presumably post for a top-up! (Shutterstock)

Enlarge
Veiled ladies don’t let their garb get in the way of a good sweat! Hijab is commonplace in mixed gym settings, but single sex clubs do allow for the head-covers to fly off! If you ever want to see the ladies really run, be on standby for when a clueless man walks into the no-man zone, and see those girls sprint for cover! (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)
Reduce

Image 11 of 14:  11 / 14Veiled ladies don’t let their garb get in the way of a good sweat! Hijab is commonplace in mixed gym settings, but single sex clubs do allow for the head-covers to fly off! If you ever want to see the ladies really run, be on standby for when a clueless man walks into the no-man zone, and see those girls sprint for cover! (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)

Enlarge
Music spillage from the cheap earbuds of the person next to you –  trying to pedal fast to Nancy Ajram’s love ballad! (Shutterstock)
Reduce

Image 12 of 14:  12 / 14Music spillage from the cheap earbuds of the person next to you – trying to pedal fast to Nancy Ajram’s love ballad! (Shutterstock)

Enlarge
The class zone: Attendance at the more challenging classes may be sparse - you’re lucky if even the trainer shows up on time! But when the oriental dance starts, the ladies come running in full attire and with jingle bells on! (Shutterstock)
Reduce

Image 13 of 14:  13 / 14The class zone: Attendance at the more challenging classes may be sparse - you’re lucky if even the trainer shows up on time! But when the oriental dance starts, the ladies come running in full attire and with jingle bells on! (Shutterstock)

Enlarge
Gym gear: Forget freeweights, weight machines and kettle bells, the real gear that counts is in the clothing! Some of the attire seen in ladies-only gyms will send you soaring off your treadmill! With no men in sight, ladies take full advantage by wearing skimpy, daring and highly coordinated workout-fits. (Flickr)
Reduce

Image 14 of 14:  14 / 14Gym gear: Forget freeweights, weight machines and kettle bells, the real gear that counts is in the clothing! Some of the attire seen in ladies-only gyms will send you soaring off your treadmill! With no men in sight, ladies take full advantage by wearing skimpy, daring and highly coordinated workout-fits. (Flickr)

Enlarge

1

Locker room taboo against undressing: While discreet signs do remind users that modesty is required and that nudity is off-limits – you’d think partial states of undress at least might come with the territory. Yet make no mistake – this is not the naked zone men fantasize about having peep holes into.

Image 1 of 14Locker room taboo against undressing: While discreet signs do remind users that modesty is required and that nudity is off-limits – you’d think partial states of undress at least might come with the territory. Yet make no mistake – this is not the naked zone men fantasize about having peep holes into.

2

Prayer before unlayer! Hapless foreigners can offend locals who use locker rooms to pray, as visible undies are haram near supplicated women – no matter who came first, the stripper or the devotee. Persons at prayer might block members’ access to lockers, leaving them wondering why the real offender couldn’t pray unobtrusively in a corner.

Image 2 of 14Prayer before unlayer! Hapless foreigners can offend locals who use locker rooms to pray, as visible undies are haram near supplicated women – no matter who came first, the stripper or the devotee. Persons at prayer might block members’ access to lockers, leaving them wondering why the real offender couldn’t pray unobtrusively in a corner.

3

Women eyeing you up as potential wives for their sons or nephews: You’re getting propositioned but not directly by the eligible bachelors. Who needs OKCupid when you’ve got these seasoned moms, aunts and other enlisted wife-shoppers on the job! Knock off the exercise act! (Shutterstock)

Image 3 of 14Women eyeing you up as potential wives for their sons or nephews: You’re getting propositioned but not directly by the eligible bachelors. Who needs OKCupid when you’ve got these seasoned moms, aunts and other enlisted wife-shoppers on the job! Knock off the exercise act! (Shutterstock)

4

Women ask you if the NGO/ media company you work for is recruiting because their daughters/ nieces are fresh graduates, newly retired on the sofa as full-time couch potatoes (with no relevant experience or skill set that your industry might require, mind.) If it’s not a marriage agency, let it be a job recruitment joint! (Shutterstock)

Image 4 of 14Women ask you if the NGO/ media company you work for is recruiting because their daughters/ nieces are fresh graduates, newly retired on the sofa as full-time couch potatoes (with no relevant experience or skill set that your industry might require, mind.) If it’s not a marriage agency, let it be a job recruitment joint! (Shutterstock)

5

You can forget the 30-mins workout you’d budgeted for, you need to meet and greet every familiar face you’ve come across as a regular in this social club. Half the members are in it for the extended coffee mornings where chit-chat n chai is the whole point of putting in appearances at the gym. Ladies, don’t break a sweat now! (Shutterstock)

Image 5 of 14You can forget the 30-mins workout you’d budgeted for, you need to meet and greet every familiar face you’ve come across as a regular in this social club. Half the members are in it for the extended coffee mornings where chit-chat n chai is the whole point of putting in appearances at the gym. Ladies, don’t break a sweat now! (Shutterstock)

6

Women sidling up to exercise near you (though the whole floor of machines is free) to oggle at your settings and ask you for training tips when there are staff sporting ‘happy to help’ gear on hand. (Shutterstock)

Image 6 of 14Women sidling up to exercise near you (though the whole floor of machines is free) to oggle at your settings and ask you for training tips when there are staff sporting ‘happy to help’ gear on hand. (Shutterstock)

7

Don't push it! Break into a trot, ramp up the intensity on the cross-trainer and you get funny looks as most lady's gym ‘clubbers’ prefer a leisurely stroll on the tread (gossip) mills while catching up with friends – by phone if they’re not exercise-buddying. One user reports being asked why she was jogging when she 'looked great'.

Image 7 of 14Don't push it! Break into a trot, ramp up the intensity on the cross-trainer and you get funny looks as most lady's gym ‘clubbers’ prefer a leisurely stroll on the tread (gossip) mills while catching up with friends – by phone if they’re not exercise-buddying. One user reports being asked why she was jogging when she "looked great".

8

Lure lore! At a club in a certain conservative Kingdom, treadmills sit on a mezzanine above the weight lifting zone. A male jogger objected to the ‘distraction’ of a woman weightlifter below.  A tennis coach told his female student he quit his coed gym because women athletes posed too much of a ‘distraction’. (Shutterstock)

Image 8 of 14Lure lore! At a club in a certain conservative Kingdom, treadmills sit on a mezzanine above the weight lifting zone. A male jogger objected to the ‘distraction’ of a woman weightlifter below. A tennis coach told his female student he quit his coed gym because women athletes posed too much of a ‘distraction’. (Shutterstock)

9

Supply and demand crisis over the hair dryers  — just cause they’re veiled doesn’t mean looking immaculate at all costs is not the order of play! Bed-hair or gym-and-go locks are not an option in this fastidious fashion culture. Here’s looking at you, Lebanon! (AFP/File)

Image 9 of 14Supply and demand crisis over the hair dryers — just cause they’re veiled doesn’t mean looking immaculate at all costs is not the order of play! Bed-hair or gym-and-go locks are not an option in this fastidious fashion culture. Here’s looking at you, Lebanon! (AFP/File)

10

Working out in full make-up and seemingly having visited a hair salon prior as well as presumably post for a top-up! (Shutterstock)

Image 10 of 14Working out in full make-up and seemingly having visited a hair salon prior as well as presumably post for a top-up! (Shutterstock)

11

Veiled ladies don’t let their garb get in the way of a good sweat! Hijab is commonplace in mixed gym settings, but single sex clubs do allow for the head-covers to fly off! If you ever want to see the ladies really run, be on standby for when a clueless man walks into the no-man zone, and see those girls sprint for cover! (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)

Image 11 of 14Veiled ladies don’t let their garb get in the way of a good sweat! Hijab is commonplace in mixed gym settings, but single sex clubs do allow for the head-covers to fly off! If you ever want to see the ladies really run, be on standby for when a clueless man walks into the no-man zone, and see those girls sprint for cover! (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)

12

Music spillage from the cheap earbuds of the person next to you –  trying to pedal fast to Nancy Ajram’s love ballad! (Shutterstock)

Image 12 of 14Music spillage from the cheap earbuds of the person next to you – trying to pedal fast to Nancy Ajram’s love ballad! (Shutterstock)

13

The class zone: Attendance at the more challenging classes may be sparse - you’re lucky if even the trainer shows up on time! But when the oriental dance starts, the ladies come running in full attire and with jingle bells on! (Shutterstock)

Image 13 of 14The class zone: Attendance at the more challenging classes may be sparse - you’re lucky if even the trainer shows up on time! But when the oriental dance starts, the ladies come running in full attire and with jingle bells on! (Shutterstock)

14

Gym gear: Forget freeweights, weight machines and kettle bells, the real gear that counts is in the clothing! Some of the attire seen in ladies-only gyms will send you soaring off your treadmill! With no men in sight, ladies take full advantage by wearing skimpy, daring and highly coordinated workout-fits. (Flickr)

Image 14 of 14Gym gear: Forget freeweights, weight machines and kettle bells, the real gear that counts is in the clothing! Some of the attire seen in ladies-only gyms will send you soaring off your treadmill! With no men in sight, ladies take full advantage by wearing skimpy, daring and highly coordinated workout-fits. (Flickr)

Reduce

Inside the ladies locker room, expect to encounter the quirks and foibles of the more body-shy but no less body-obsessed culture. Nudity is haram, and you’ll be eye-balled as potential wife material for a stranger’s distant cousin! Things can also get strange on the exercise floor machines until you’ve found your feet. Gird up your loins for the eccentricities of the MENA female gym experience! It will help you get back in the zone to offset that sleepy and sedentary lifestyle.

Advertisement

Add a new comment

 avatar