One of the biggest difficulties of working out as a woman who observes the hijab is the question of what to wear. This becomes an even bigger concern when you require larger sizes. While there is a growing industry of Muslim women entrepreneurs who are creating and selling awesome fitness wear, much of it is targeted towards women of average heights and builds. This means that if you're very tall and not the skinniest chicken in the coop (like me), that tunic turns into a t-shirt and those loose workout pants look like they're cropped tights.
For the longest time, I would look for gyms that were “women-only” because I felt so self-conscious working out in a mixed gender setting. I could never find athletic wear that wasn't tight and clingy and made me feel even more self-conscious about my body. I tried looking into men's athletic wear but that would just make me feel bad about myself and demotivate me even further.
Below I'm going to share a few key things that I bought that have helped make going to the gym a far less demoralizing experience. In fact, you'll feel positively awesome in some of these workout clothes and may want to wear them ALL the time. This is modest workout wear at its best.
1- LONG SLEEVE TUNIC/T-SHIRT TOP
One day, I was surfing Amazon (a favourite past-time) and I stumbled onto this shop that was selling long sleeve, plus size tunic tops made from t-shirt material. I ordered one to try out and let me tell you, these tops are AMAZING for working out. You can take a look at them here. They are made by a company called LARACE and I really love them.
The cons are obviously that they're not designed to be athletic wear so they don't wick moisture away from your body as well and you do need to wash them after every use. But the pros- the pros far outweigh the cons.
- The best thing about these tops is that they're long and hit at mid thigh. If you wear them with a tank top underneath, you will never have to worry about flashing anyone with any unattractive part of your anatomy
- They are super flowy and float away from your body. Rather than being skin tight or overly boxy, they drape really nicely so you're not self conscious but still feel attractive.
- They're a lightweight material so you don't feel like you're about to boil. I used to wear bulky hoodies before I got this and I would be roasting halfway through an intense workout
- They come in 23 bright and beautiful colours- so you'll definitely find a colour to match your shoes.
- They carry up to a 3X in size. When I ordered my first top, I ordered a 3X to be safe since I wasn't sure what the fit would be like and the reviews made it seem like it would be a hit or a miss. I just ordered a 1X last week and it fit perfectly. I would say they run a little small so size up one but they do stretch out as well. I don't hand wash mine as suggested but I always air dry them and my first one still looks like its in fantastic condition.
If you'd like to purchase the top, you can buy it on Amazon here.
LONG SLEEVE, LIGHT WEIGHT HOODIE
If you're looking for something more substantial than a t-shirt, a hoodie will be the perfect workout companion for you. I purchased these from a company called Urban CoCo when the weather got super cold and I was finding myself cold throughout my workout. This cape style hoodie, another Amazon find, was perfect. It's thick enough to keep you warm but this enough that when worn with a tank top underneath, you'll feel perfectly comfortable during your workout. Again: the con is that is not “athletic wear” but here are the pros:
- It's long. The cape style lends itself to modest coverage of your front and your behind. The longest part of the V hem hits just above your knees.
- It drapes away from your body so again, no issues with the material clinging to you as you try and do a squat
- It comes in 14 beautiful colours and up to a 4XL in size.
- It washes amazingly. I've had mine for 6 months now and it's in great shape and the colours are still bright and vibrant.
If you'd like to purchase one of these, you can buy them here.
LANE BRYANT LIVI ACTIVE BOTTOMS
When I first started working out, I'd wear these wide legged yoga pants I found at TJ Maxx. They were very comfortable BUT they were a big hazardous in the gym and I tripped and face planted a couple of times during conditioning. I did some research and discovered these Livi Active pants from Lane Bryant. They come in a TON of sizes, up to a 26/28 AND in two different lengths. They are comfortable AND they wash really well. The only con I can think of is that they're not cheap but Lane Bryant has AMAZING sales and you can always find coupons online to help make the purchase more palatable. You can check out their full collection of Active Bottoms here.
GLAMORISE SPORTS BRA
I'm going to do a separate post on the different ones I've tried and which one worked the best. For now, I'm going to share the one that I LOVE and it is also the cheapest one on the list and provides the best support, ESPECIALLY when doing high impact exercises like running etc. It's really reasonably priced. It's not the most attractive one you'll ever find but it provides really amazing support for an amazing price.
You buy this sports bra here.
SKECHERS CROSS TRAINERS
I was never a big fan of Skechers but one day, I tried on these cross-trainers when I was walking by their store and I was hooked. These shoes are literally the most comfortable workout shoes I have ever owned. They provide good amount of support and they feel like you're walking on air. They also have a generous width so if you have wider feet like me, they'll feel amazing right from the start and won't pinch your toes. You can buy the shoes on Amazon or go into a Skechers store and try them out in there.
You can buy the shoe on Amazon here.
While I love these shoes, I would recommend that if you're just starting out running or exercising to go to a proper running store and get fitted for proper shoes. They perform a walking gait analysis and find you the perfect shoe that provides just the right kind of support for your feet.
I hope these recommendations were useful to you. If you're starting out getting active or if you're a veteran but still haven't found the right clothes to get you excited, check these options out. I truly believe that a fun, colourful and bright athletic wardrobe will get you more excited about working out. If there are other products you've tried and loved, I would LOVE to hear about them so please share them in the comments below. Remember, sharing is caring 🙂