Sister Fit is a women’s only gym that opened this past November at 1523 Birchmount Road, Toronto, Canada. With the fitness industry booming across North America, the needs of Muslim women are finally being brought into consideration.
Offering self-defense classes along with Muay Thai, the Israeli martial art Krav Maga and Arnis, a Filipino form of stick fighting, the space is designed with the privacy of Muslim women in mind.
The founder of Sister Fit and head coach, Fatima Lee Garsi first began running self-defense sessions and boxing boot camps for Muslim women in 2014, where she ran workshops out of a mosque in Toronto and around the GTA.
In an interview with the Toronto Guardian, she said, “Sister Fit solves a major problem for women (not only Muslim women), who desire professionalism in a private setting where they won’t feel shy to physically express themselves in ways that may leave them feeling too vulnerable, too exposed, or simply uncomfortable. We provide an atmosphere where women are understood, valued, and treated with professional, high-level expertise.”
“Integrating fitness as a long-lasting habit is more than just about exercising. It’s a lifestyle. For that reason, incorporating culture, faith, and belief into those rituals makes the experience much more meaningful. Our gym culture is affirming of women who desire something other than what mainstream fitness can offer.”
“Not only do we offer a unique gym culture where you are treated with care and respect, our service and attention to detail gives everyone the personalization and attention that they deserve. We keep our classes small (4-8 women) so that everyone’s needs can be met. We test and graduate students to the next level of skill so that progress can be ensured. We also have our own app that allows members to stay connected with their fitness goals and commitment. Members can use the app to book their classes, update their transformation log (photos, body weight, and measurements), and see what’s happening at the gym each day.”
“Sister Fit prides ourselves on a one-of-a-kind mentorship program for high-level students who want to become coaches. We have mentored two homeschooling moms who have both become Certified Personal Trainers and certified boxing coaches. This provides them with income and encourages Muslim women to become fit.”
While the gym’s Instagram photos showcase women in hijabs practicing strength and flow sequences or kettlebell exercises, the reality is that all members are able to—and most prefer to—take off their hijabs and other religious garments while training. As the conversation around Hijabi women and everything from sports to fashion continues to evolve worldwide, Sister Fit marks the beginning of a culture shift in Toronto’s fitness scene.
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.