How the pandemic has led to fitness becoming more accessible for British Muslim women

How the pandemic has led to fitness becoming more accessible for British Muslim women

Mud orange, the creative agency helping brands to connect with diverse audiences, launches findings from its m.economy research on health and fitness.

The findings outline how, in a time where the majority of the British population's exercise options are limited due the national lockdown, many have found 'at home' alternatives. This shines a spotlight on brands that have a unique opportunity to provide improved access to fitness and holistic health, especially for female Muslims. 

The research found that the coronavirus pandemic has provided British Muslim women a way to overcome barriers to maintain a regular exercise routine; 55% of British Muslim women saying that the increased availability of home workout plans provided a sustainable way to exercise.

It’s time to provide better gender-sensitive workout spaces and modest activewear

According to the findings, before the pandemic 86% of British Muslim women say they would have preferred to attend women-only gyms, fitness classes or swimming pools and many felt that the limited health and fitness options available limited their access to exercise. 

This isn’t just for those who wear hijab or identify as “very religious”, with the findings being consistent across all British Muslim women across all levels of religious practice.

According to the research, governmental exercise plans like Couch to 5K and home work out plans such as Joe Wicks have helped British Muslim women overcome barriers to fitness as they can work out from their own home, but there is still huge room for improvement. 

Brands have the opportunity to provide safe spaces for Muslim females and bespoke workout classes whether at the gym or through digital spaces to help them maintain a regular exercise routine.

Sportswear brands need to develop suitable activewear for female Muslims

For many brands there is also an opportunity to provide suitable activewear. According to the survey, over half of British Muslim women find it difficult to find suitable activewear. Insights from the survey show the majority of British Muslim women stated they actively choose to dress modestly with 46% of women saying they wear the Hijab. 

This has an impact on fitness participation, as activewear must also meet their modesty needs. Appropriate activewear would help British Muslim women to feel more comfortable when working out.

Whilst availability is increasing in modest activewear – notably from Nike, Adidas and Under Armour – the research shows that most Muslim women feel that the styling and design of modest activewear makes them stand out and look odd. Insights from the research found that only 13% of women say that sports hijabs currently available are fit for purpose. Many brands are putting effort into making activewear for Muslim women.

Unfortunately, there is still a lack of understanding of the needs to make the activewear not only functional, but modest and stylish.

Arif Miah, creative strategy director of mud orange said: “British Muslim women are underrepresented within the health and fitness sector, from the lack of gender-sensitive work out spaces, to the undersupply of suitable and fit for purpose modest activewear.

Fitness content as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic has helped to introduce accessible ways of working out for all. But, as we eventually start to get back to some normality; digital access to fitness needs to continue and improve, and physical access needs to take-off. Gyms to sports brands need to create a new normal for female Muslims to have a proper access to fitness.”

Mud orange conducted a study with 1,000 British Muslims aged 18–45 across the UK to discover their motivations, behaviours and attitudes towards exercising, activewear, vitamins, and fitness supplements, if you would like to view further insights, you can view the full report here.

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