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Friends are made in West Berkshire Muslim Centre's new female fitness sessions

The West Berkshire Muslim Centre (WBMC) has recently started CrossFit sessions for both men and women courtesy of Newbury CrossFit.

Women from all nationalities, ages and religions have been getting together, twice a week, to get into shape and meet new people.

The centre said that the sessions have already become a “hit” within the community and have attracted great attendance.

The attendees have expressed their enjoyment and the centre has noticed a change in their fitness levels. Photo by: West Berkshire Muslim Centre
The attendees have expressed their enjoyment and the centre has noticed a change in their fitness levels. Photo by: West Berkshire Muslim Centre

These CrossFit sessions, held on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, are open to the whole community but are there to offer the ethnic minority Muslim community a safe and welcoming space.

The sessions also aim to build confidence in those who have little to no experience in the world of fitness and has already seen an improvement in the level of fitness from participants.

Organiser Sobia Butt said: “It’s been so rewarding seeing all the ladies come together and support one another in getting fitter and there’s a real sense of community.”

WBMC said that its main goal is to build a “sense of community and cohesion” across a varied group of minority ethnic nationalities.

It has also drawn attention to the loneliness that new refugee families may face when arriving to the district for the first time.

The centre said it wishes to “help everyone integrate and combat the loneliness and exclusion they may feel after having moved to Newbury” as well as “help foster a better community that contributes positively to the wider engagement across West Berkshire”.

CrossFit instructor Clare Dedden said: “I have loved every second running the women's classes. Their hard work and determination to become fitter and healthier has been truly inspiring.

“With their incredible attitudes, they have taught me so much and I feel privileged to be in a position to support them with their health and well-being.

“We can't wait to continue building on these relationships and continue to support their health and well-being.”

Not only have the sessions created a comfortable environment for minority ethnic women, but it has created a new “community of friends” for those who attend.

One of them, Samia Yaqub, said the sessions have allowed her to socialise with a different group of women and it was an opportunity to de-stress.

She said: “CrossFit is packed with multiple fitness and strength activities, no sessions have been the same and the encouragement from the trainer and ladies from the group is great.

“All exercise is a de-stresser, but CrossFit's different activities makes it more interesting and enjoyable which makes me want to keep attending these challenging exercises.”

WBMC said that the sessions have been funded by West Berkshire's ‘Get Active Fund’, which is geared to promoting activity post-pandemic.

Newbury CrossFit has subsidised all costs for the session and the centre is therefore able to provide them at no cost to the community.

Participants Ruhina and Nikhat said that at the sessions the group of women they have met have encouraged them to “push themselves” and “sweat more”, noting that the organisers and instructors have been “absolutely accommodating” in creating a space for those who want to exercise “freely” in an environment just for women.

The centre, which represents over 20 different nationalities, holds many other events and activities such as pot luck meals, badminton sessions and coffee mornings.

A weekly fitness session for men has also recently been started, which has also seen a positive response from the local community.

To get involved visit the West Berkshire Muslim Centre Facebook page.

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