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Ready Or Not–Here Come Gyms For Women, By Women

By Bessma B.

A new trend is sweeping the capital of Saudi Arabia and I couldn’t be more grateful, since it’s bringing potential salvation for slowly deteriorating souls like me. It is now the “in” thing to eat well and get fit. Girls’ schools are finally allowed to practice sports–it was a grave misdeed for us to wear trousers when I was in high school–and in the last few years Saudi-owned gyms have popped up all over Riyadh. 

I would love to tell you which I prefer, but with four kids and work I have yet to see the inside of a gym here. Now, however, five gyms owned and run by Saudi women have joined forces to inspire the unhealthy to change their lives in real, sustainable ways. Organized by the Empowerment Hub, “Change” is a one-day, women-only celebration of fitness that aims to “revolutionize what women feed their minds and bodies”.  

Starting tomorrow at 10 sharp, the day’s schedule is chock full of classes offered by NuYu, Kinetiko, Kore, Motion PT and Kayl gyms. Spinning, boxing, and self-defense are all on the list, plus highlights like the Curio Color Run, the Neon Bicycle ride (the name alone makes me want to hop on!), and the grand finale–a football tournament!

All the concession stands will be feeding us healthy options (including the Saudi Yummy Tummy bakery), and all proceeds from ticket sales and booth rentals will be donated to six charities. That leaves it up to our own professional Saudi women to do what we do best: make a change!

For more info –

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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