Celebrating Ramadan 2023
How faith and fitness work together in the GoodGym community
March 22, 2023
Ramadan 2023 is fast approaching and with it comes celebration of one of the most important months of the year for the Muslim community. GoodGym caught up with GoodGymers Amro, Nada and Chalomi to find out more when it comes to faith, fitness and how GoodGym fits in.
Why do you feel diversity of faith is so important with the GoodGym community?
Nada: As a charity its main purpose is to benefit the entire society. It's not about benefiting a certain group of communities within a community. It's about benefiting everybody, regardless of their faith.
Amro: While faith is a very personal matter; creating an open, friendly and accepting culture goes a long way of making everyone feel welcomed and included which is truly what all of us deserve.
Ramadan can affect how Muslim people organise their day when it comes to changing energy levels and prioritising their time. How does fasting affect your exercise and fitness? And do you use any ways to make this more possible during this time?
Chalomi: I have realised how much of a hit it can take on my energy levels. I usually change my diet to include complex carbohydrates which will help me last throughout the day (as they take longer to digest). When it comes to exercise I usually try to exercise in the late evening after my fast has been broken.
Amro: I just learn to listen to my body more, so I go on my usual 5km runs but at the same time I try to take the pace down to accommodate for my body’s needs. I also make sure that the two meals I consume in the day during the fasting month are nutritious and enriching. Hydration is key and that is something that I always keep in mind after I break my fasting around sunset.
Do you find that your faith and fitness compliment each other?
Nada: Yes. With our faith, the movement of the body is very important because we believe that God gave us a body to use it. It should be in a constant state of benefit, either to yourself or to others. Even the concept of prayer, requires us to still be active.
Amro: Faith is a very personal aspect and it enriches my soul. Fitness empowers my body. I see them as two distinct layers but I always feel that my faith encourages me to have a healthy body and a healthy body enables me to carry out my faith duties with ease.
Has your time with GoodGym and the sessions you’ve attended/ good deeds you’ve completed, enhanced your faith and beliefs in any way?
Amro: I want to share that when I first joined GoodGym Brighton in 2017, a fellow GoodGymer who is now a close friend (Frannie) brought me a card on the first day of Ramadan wishing me a blessed month. The run leader at the time (Tara) asked me if there is anything I’d like her to know during the sessions, given that I was fasting. So the vibe that I received is that GoodGym is a friendly, safe and accepting place regardless of what faith I’m practising. Six years since I joined and I’ve always felt welcomed in this community.
Muslim women can find themselves not having easy access to fitness outdoors compared to other women. Have you experienced this yourself or with women around you and what can people from other faiths do to make it easier?
Nada: This is a really important question because dressing modestly and fitness don't always necessarily go together. It's not easy. We're always looking for female only spaces in which we can sort of discard all these outer garments and just work out freely. I get a lot of other women are okay with it, but there are a lot of Muslim women who are also nervous and even though there are a lot more places now that have ladies only hours, it's important for us to have women's only spaces more and more.
Chalomi: Definitely in the Gym/outdoor gyms, I feel women in general need space to workout comfortably and some Muslim women prefer not to come into contact with men at all. I think men in general just need to be respectful of the space women occupy no matter their faith.
*What habits and tools can help you prepare and organise yourself to ensure your religious practice and exercise/ GoodGymming can flourish? *
Amro: On days during Ramadan, when I’m attending a Goodgym session I usually take it easy and avoid going on long runs but I’m still able to carry out the tasks with ease. I tend to drink a lot of Aloe Vera juice after I break my fast, not sure if it's scientifically proven but I feel that the water contained in the Aloe Vera fibre gets released slower during the next day and makes me feel hydrated and less thirsty for longer.
Nada: A travel mat is a big winner and a water bottle. Having fitness wear that's modest and also breathable. When I enter into a group of people that I'm working with, I let them know beforehand that prayer is important. So I'll just get nip out and I sometimes I'll just have to pray on the street.
On a recent community mission I remember my prayer came and I didn't know what to do. I went up to the Task Owner and asked if I could just pray in this corner here. He's like, “You know what? I'll do you one better come downstairs." So he like, took me to this huge gym area and asked me “Do you need a mat or anything else?” He was so lovely. It makes such a difference.
What advice would you have for other Muslim people considering joining a community like GoodGym?
Nada: I would definitely say to read up a bit more on what GoodGym are doing. There's a lot of potential to do good here and the more Muslims that join it, only adds value and more unique ways of looking at things.
Muslims would benefit a lot by working with different communities like GoodGym. We can hold onto our faith and do different things, we can also work together with everybody else.
A lot of us over the years have faced Islamaphobic attacks, you get scared. So for a lot of people, it would be amazing to know that this is a safe place.
Amro: Go for it, I never showed up to a GoodGym task and regretted it. It is almost assured that if you join the GoodGym community you will make friends, meet friendly people and carry out good deeds that compliment Muslim teachings of being a helpful community member and looking after your neighbours and community.
Chalomi: Don't be afraid! Everyone I have met so far has been very kind and friendly and instantly makes you feel welcome. GoodGym is for everyone!
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