sportswear for the Muslim gymnast

Ahiida® is an Australian owned company that designs and produces quality swim and sportswear.

Our garments are designed with the respect of Islamic values and aimed to enhance the lifestyle of the active Muslim female.

Ahiida – home page

Ahiida.jpg

This company produces some interesting garments including the Burqini®™ Swimsuits. (It’s not easy to combine a burqa with a bikini, as you can imagine.) …

Gymnast.com

The dress expectations for Muslim women vary widely, of course, in different parts of the world. When I coached in Sri Lanka the Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist girls all dressed in “normal” leotards and bike shorts for work-out. The problem there, in the late-1990s, was that the families were reluctant to have the girls compete in public in competitive leotards. Somehow modesty was compromised in a public venue, but not in the training gym.

(Sri Lanka eventually competed in the 2003 World Championships, fan favourites at that meet.)

I would argue that competitive leotards are not “provocative”. But perhaps in some countries, they are.

This is a problem.

As a coach I feel Artistic gymnasts need wear tight fitting clothing in training and in competition. This is for both safety and artistry.

If you arrive for workout in baggy skateboard clothes or a burqa, I’ll send you back to the locker room to change.

Perhaps the best solution for Muslim women who want to train acrobatic sports safely is to book the gym exclusively and hire female coaches. Then lock the gym doors to outsiders.

Leave a comment if you have any other positive suggestions for Muslim women who wish to do acrobatics.

UPDATE: Note that very few Islamic societies in history have ever required women dress in a certain way as part of the sharia (law). The abuses of sharia in Iran and Afghanistan have been widely publicized, but most Muslim women around the world will laugh if you assume how their dress has been imposed on them by law.

Related story: Female artists back on stage in Pakistan – Times of India.

6 comments ↓

#1 Nik on 07.08.08 at 11:29 am

I coached an Islamic girl and her parents were a bit iffy about the competition setting but are quite liberal and allowed her to compete. She does sports acrobatics and was pleased to see that acro allows the unitard to be worn. She wears a unitard with long legs and short sleeves to competition and in training generally wears a leotard with 3/4 length tights. That being said, her parents are not strict on her dress though, she does not wear anything to cover her hair and her mother wears head scarves (the kind you see on chemo patients) rather than anything traditional.

We had a general rule in the gym that gymnasts over the age of 13 no longer had to wear leotard only in the gym as some became quite selfconcious at that age so it suited her as well. I think the addition of the unitard (it is also allowed with long sleeves and long legs) has really help this particular girl and her cultural confinements and I think helped self concious girls as well. Is this a rule for artistic gymnastics? Im not sure

#2 shergymrag on 07.08.08 at 12:25 pm

Awhile back they did make a new rule that artistic gymnasts could wear unitards with short or long sleeves. I don’t believe I’ve seen any gymnasts do this yet though.

#3 Justin [Penguin888] on 07.09.08 at 9:55 am

Aljazy Al Habshi (QAT) competes in a leo and small-bike shorts that match the bottom part of her leo so it doesn’t look any different. I think it looks pretty cool.

#4 gymnastics in Iran at Gymnastics Coaching on 09.22.09 at 12:04 am

[...] related post – sportswear for the Muslim gymnast [...]

#5 Kawthar on 12.31.12 at 6:38 pm

I am a Muslim girl and I chanced across this article in part of my research for how I can do gymnastics and still dress modestly. In all actuality Muslim women are supposed to follow the Sharia,Islamic law,which does not change no matter what part of the world you live in. No country in the world right now follows Islamic law except Saudi Arabia, but they’ve added their own restrictions for women and stuff that has no foundation in Islam.Women not allowed to drive,or wear nail polish? Don’t even get me started.My point is, don’t assume that because the Muslim girls in some XYZ third world country dress in such a way means that it’s right.I’m not about to compromise my modesty for gymnastics,no matter how much I enjoy it.

I guess I’ll have to keep searching for a way to do gymnastics and dress islamically. Wish me luck!

#6 Raven Schmidt on 11.19.13 at 5:28 pm

If a Muslim women or girl wanted try an acrobatic sport and not be discriminated against she could try Equestrian Vaulting. Our rules about attire are not as strict as other forms of gymnastics. The kind of attire a Muslim lady would wear for other sports like football (soccer) or swimming would be just fine! :)

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