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Making An Exercise Space for Muslim Women

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Hadil Alyamani shows her fashion sensibility at her home in Falls Church, VA.
Jonna McKone
Hadil Alyamani shows her fashion sensibility at her home in Falls Church, VA.

Hadil Alyamani, a Yemeni Muslim-American in her 20s, teaches Zumba a few nights a week at a Northern Virginia community, arts and fitness center called the Nur Center. The Latin-inspired dance class is all women, and draws a diverse crowd, including non-Muslims.

For many Muslim women who wear a hijab or scarf to cover their hair and neck, the privacy of an all-female setting in which to workout is important, given their standards for modesty.

"It's kind of difficult for most of us to go into a regular gym like Gold's gym or a Sport and Health where it's a mixed crowd," explains Toni Lindsay, one of the class participants.

The Nur Center opened at the end of 2010, and its goal is to provide programming relevant to young Muslims and non-Muslims in the area.

"The next generation of American-Muslims - we're deeply rooted now, and kind of building our identity through programs like what we're doing here," says Ahmad El-Khatib, the center's director. "You can come in for a workout, a documentary, a book signing, poetry."

The center is part of growing cultural offerings for Virginia's highly diverse Muslim population.

Photos: Muslim Gym

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