I read the story called Woman says she was barred from Italian gym because of veil (1) and I have considerable sympathy with the gym owner. This has nothing to do with Islamophobia or racism. I am a UK born and raised 2nd generation Indian Hindu (although I am not practising.) I am the son of two legal immigrants. I am also a personal trainer.
This is about health and safety.
Before I go any further I am a firm believer in women only areas in gyms- that may be why this woman went in a burqua. Why?
Women only areas of gyms
Women of certain religious faiths e.g. Jewish women cannot exercise in front of men.
A lot of women find the free weights area of a gym which are full of very muscular men very intimidating.
Some clothes women wear when exercising can be somewhat revealing and quite justifiably a lot of women don’t want to be leered at when exercising.
Some exercises women do can be somewhat compromising and again quite justifiably a lot of women don’t want to be leered at when exercising.
Some women can also sweat in embarrassing places, a woman will understand- men usually won’t.
Lastly some women, when exercising can make noises that can be taken the wrong way. I used to train one such lady at Fitness First and I had to train her at 6:30am so nobody watched for that reason. See (2) and this is far from uncommon for such an example.
It’s standard practice at many gyms to scan a member’s membership card, their photo comes up on screen. If that lady is in a burqua you can’t tell who it is. So in theory a non member can come into the gym, work out without paying and that is not fair on those who are paying their membership.
If anything it could be a man who wants to leer at the women in the women’s changing rooms. Trust me I have personal experience of this. This happened at one gym I worked at and I had to call the police. I was called a racist and all sorts of things by the offender.
Health and safety
If that lady works out in a burqua she is covered up. This compromises the capacity to sweat and that lady can easily overheat causing fainting. Again I have seen this happen.
On top of that the loose clothing of the burqua can get caught up in the gym equipment which can be very dangerous. Again I have seen this happen.
The burqua has nothing to do with religion. The only thing that comes remotely close to it in the Quran is a WHITE garment called a purdah which is designed to protect a woman against sunburn.
Think of your God as a loving father. A loving father wants to see his daughter express herself, be happy and live life to the full. No loving father wants his daughter to have her life compromised by such an oppressive outfit. An Oxford Imam said “The burka and niqab are hideous tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim.
“Although this deliberate identity concealing contraption is banned at the Kaaba in Mecca, it is permitted in Britain, thus precipitating security risks, accelerating vitamin D deficiency, endorsing gender-inequality and inhibiting community cohesion.” (3) He goes onto say “The burka and niqab are hideous tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim. (4)
It is for this reason and those in (5) I think this garment should be banned and the gym owner left alone and allowed to run his business.
I wholly understand that many women find gyms scary. I have lost count of the number of people I have had to ban from my classes for making fun out of the overweight It’s partly for that reason I set up fitness classes livestreamed over the internet for £1 per day- check out http://www.operationmumsinmind.com
1. Woman says she was barred from Italian gym because of veil https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/03/woman-says-barred-italian-gym-veil?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR2QbhYNG8aNozXZHcoWexCD60QYDZ3gHCivJsCHQ4aqqFpiwND0MuDhcV0 (date checked 5th May 2019)
2. Sexy Lady Exercise, With the Sound of Pleasure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_Z0HptNVZ4 (date checked 5th May 2019)
3. Oxford imam leaps to Boris Johnson’s defence over burka comments 9th August 2018 https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/16409629.oxford-imam-leaps-to-boris-johnsons-defence-over-burka-comments/ (date checked 5th May 2019)
4. Leading imam defends Boris Johnson over controversial burka comments: ‘He did not go far enough’https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/he-did-not-go-far-enough-leading-imam-defends-boris-johnson-over-controversial-burka-comments-amid-a3907106.html (date checked 5th May 2019)
5. Why I think the burqua should be banned on health grounds (date checked 5th May 2019) http://jamesbondhealthandfitness.co.uk/why-i-think-the-burqua-should-be-banned-on-health-grounds/