Nike’s First Hijab Ambassador On Wearing Her Headscarf In The Gym
Shazia Hossen, Nike’s first Hijab ambassador has spoken about the first time she wore a hijab to the gym, and why no one minds if she does. Speaking to England’s Evening Standard newspaper, the 23 year old London resident and personal trainer said:
“I was constantly adjusting my scarf and wondering if anyone was looking at me weirdly.”
After deciding to become a fitness instructor, in part to prove a point to her brother, Hossen began wearing a hijab to the gym four years ago, during Ramadan.
After posting about it on Instagram her followers went through the roof and two years later, Nike approached her to be the first person to wear their Pro Hijab in the UK.
Gyms are already places that make many people feel uncomfortable- are you using the elliptical machine correctly? Is your deadlift form letting you down? Why is everyone grunting?- but Hossen felt she had the added weight of being a woman in a Hijab. However, her trepidation regarding her headscarf quickly dissipated when she realized that fellow gym goers were more interested in their own form than anyone else's.
“The truth was no one cared. In person, people mind their own business. They may do a double-take at first, or glance at me out of curiosity, but the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter.”
Indeed, as any regular gym goer will attest, someone working out in a hijab pales in comparison with some of the more outlandish gym attire on show. Of course though, Hossen was quick to point out that she feels she is lucky, especially to have supportive parents.
“There’s a stigma around young Muslim girls in fitness, especially as a career choice. Until relatively recently, I never saw examples of ‘successful’ BAME Muslim women in media, let alone in sport.”
Now a fully qualified PT and with a clothing line in development, Hossen says that the first thing she teaches people in the gym is confidence.
“The view is often that these places are scary, but my work is to flip this around. People don’t care as much as you think they will.”