Becoming a Crossfit Athlete as a Muslim Hijabi Mum | Mariam Bahar | Defy the Norms

Posted on 16th of March 2020 by Veronika Edali

The idea for Fit Generation Apparel was born out my own struggle with finding modest, functional, comfortable, confidence-boosting swimwear and activewear as a Muslim hijab-wearing woman.

Sadly, hundreds of thousands of women just like me are held back from pursuing active and healthy lifestyle just because they don’t have access to modest gear that will push them to start their health and fitness journey.

Our ultimate mission for Fit Generation Apparel is to empower people, especially modest women, to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle without compromising on their values by providing them with premium quality fit-for-purpose swimwear and activewear as well as creating value driven content across all of our platforms.

I’m so excited to introduce you to our Crossfit athlete Mariam Bahar, who has been an avid supporter of our activewear and lifestyle brand even before we launched! I met Mariam on Instagram and we instantly connected over our modest values as well as the vision for Fit Generation Apparel.

Mariam’s story is inspirational to say the least! Since the very beginning of her fitness journey, she has been fully dedicated to her craft. As a full-time working mum to two kids she manages to show up for her trainings every single day - that’s dedication!

A few weeks ago Volkan and I had the pleasure to see Mariam in action as she competed in the Fittest Mum Competition as the only Hijabi Crossfit Athlete. We cheered her on from the sidelines in complete awe of her strength and determination. She showed everyone in that arena that as a Muslim hijabi woman you have what it takes and are a force to be reckoned with!

We have asked Mariam to share her fitness journey and experiences as a Modest Crossfit Hijabi Athlete.

“Assalamu Aleykum. My name is Mariam. I am a mother of two beautiful children, and I live in Auckland, New Zealand. About two years ago I made the decision to join an 8-week programme at a local gym along with my work colleagues – to be honest, it was the gym timetable that first caught my eye. They had different types of workouts advertised at specified times and I loved the idea of having a range of different workouts to do during the week. Prior to this, I had no experience of any intense exercise apart from playing a little social Netball and trying to do the odd workout at home.

During my first session at Fitmumz, I absolutely loved the gym community. Our two amazing trainers Brooke and Siaosi are both dedicated and realistic. A few months into attending Fitmumz regularly, I discovered Crossfit. This was the turning point of my story as I completely fell in love with this sport. I was mesmerised by the strong women taking part in Crossfit competitions and going from strength to strength. Having strong, supportive women around me at the gym only made me want to achieve the best version of me.

Truthfully, I never imagined myself to do what I do now. I suppose it has something to do with culture and upbringing. It was very unusual to see women in Hijab who work out, let along Hijabi athletes. It is fair to say that I didn’t grow up having athletic hijabi role models and the funniest thing is that I never imagined myself to be one! I still remember the first time being called an ‘athlete’. I was really taken back and thought to myself, am I really an ‘athlete’? However, choosing to embark on an unusual journey can be quite lonely. I feel that I have to overcome stereotypes, not only within my own family and community but also the wider community that I live in as well. Overall, the image of a strong woman seems to be an atypical concept and more specifically, a woman in hijab.

Choosing to wear hijab and dress modestly was not something I thought twice about. Especially, as a mother, it is important that I role model for my daughter to the best of my ability. The attire options out there for women who choose to dress modestly is limiting but that was not something that stopped me choosing to represent who I really am. I believe having a clear mindset can overcome mental barriers. Yes, it is normal to feel isolated or vulnerable when you decide to pursue in something that is viewed as uncommon but as long as you focus on the end goal, every step you take will be easier.

Looking forward, Alhamduillah that I live in a country where I am free to practice what I believe in and represent who I truly am. For me, a hijab is more than a veil, it is a statement. A statement of a woman who is strong, courageous, fearless and valued. To all the aspiring women out there, there is an inner athlete in you.” - Mariam.

Let’s just pause for a moment and take Mariam’s powerful message in!

Hijab is “a statement of a woman who is strong, courageous, fearless and valued.”

A big THANK YOU goes out to Mariam for sharing her story with us!

We look forward to being a part of Mariam's fitness journey as she works her way up to new heights showing up every single day as a courageous Muslim woman that she is, who unapologetically embraces her true identity!

Mariam, you are an inspiration to us all!

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1 comment

  • Moyra Rasheed

    So proud of her !! It’s so hard and challenging as a Muslim woman to go out and do some thing that is not completely understood in our society. Definitely she probably has had to break multiple barriers to get to this point. I’m not only proud to see her in this article but also to see the members of CrossFit accepting her. That must be a wonderful gym that she went to. And hats off to New Zealand!. Very tolerant.

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