Give women some ‘sports space’

Jogging, swimming, gymming, yoga… The current generation is engaged in some kind of physical activity to remain fit. However, when it comes to working out in the open, the options, it seems, are in favour of the men. While men engage in sports activities in the open, women mostly enrol themselves in clubs, a costly affair, which offer a limited number of activities. Some buy their own equipment and work out at home.
Even as Oman is making all efforts to make people engage in physical activity and adopt a healthy lifestyle, many have urged the need to “facilitate women’s sports”, which is mostly concentrated in the big cities.
Suggesting a ‘sports for all’ principle, they have appealed for “suitable and safe places alongside roads and gardens for walking.
They want a part of the beach exclusively for women for engaging in water sports, including swimming, diving and other activities.
Ibtisam al Maamari, a sportswoman, is used to going to the gym, where she spends an hour every day, describing it as her “only place to exercise”.
“Sports is an integral part of my life.
We, women, don’t prefer public walkways (for sports activities) because it is against our tradition.”
Commenting on the people walking on the roadside, she said: “It is not healthy because of the smoke emanating from the vehicles’ exhaust pipes.
Besides, it is dangerous since it too close to the road.”
She said clubs “took advantage” of women’s need for sports and charge high fees.“The only option right now is the club, but the problem is, it is not accessible to everyone.
Every month I pay RO 45 just to use the equipment.”
She needs to pay additional fees for supervised training or if she wants to enrol for Zumba or aerobics classes.
Regarding exercise at home, she feels the lack of encouragement can be frustrating, preventing people from engaging in sports activity for long.
“I prefer the club, where we support each other and consult the coaches there to get the best results.”
Khalifa al Ghassani, Director-General of Sports Activities at the Ministry of Sports Affairs, a plan is on to develop walkways and playgrounds for children.
“We have come a long way in terms of encouraging physical activity.
A full section was opened recently for women at Bashar Sports Complex, which comprises a sports centre, an indoor swimming pool and ladies’ fitness centre,” said Al Ghassani.
Besides, the ministry is building 19 gymnasiums as part of His Majesty’s directives, in which specific days of the week will be devoted to women.
He said there are ten sports complexes in the Sultanate equipped with all facilities and 43 sports clubs in different wilayats.
Efforts are on to establish sports centres in villages that do not have clubs in order to encourage sports and physical activity.
“Plan is on, along with the Ministry of Health, to identify the dangers of physical inactivity and causes of diseases,” he said.
This activity will be taken up in collaboration with both public and private sectors.
The plan also includes launch of awareness campaigns to introduce the facilities at sports complexes for both genders and ensure they are attended by all individuals from the community, he added.

Zainab al Nassri