Demand for all-women fitness centres in Brunei

Several female participants of Health Promotion Centre's Healthy Lifestyle Clinic Programme seen during a routine exercise at Fitness Zone in Serusop.

Gyms or fitness centres big or small are popular haunts for fitness junkies of all ages, however, centres that are especially catered for women are still hardly known of or easily accessible according to some.

This is becoming more apparent as the nation moves towards a more healthier lifestyle, and more Bruneians are becoming health-conscious and are adopting the habit of consistently exercising in order to keep fit.

While there are those who go outdoors for a run or go to recreational parks for a hike, others attend various classes for cardio exercises and prefer to hit the gym.

In previous reports, fitness gyms for women have been said to be a growing target market with the opening of establishments like Ladies First in Serusop in 2008.

Even mixed fitness centres such as Fitness Zone and Zunic Wellness have attributed that their clienteles are mostly of the female population, it mentioned.

Despite this, laments for these establishments are still abound.

The Brunei Times did a look-through of the buildings in Serusop for Ladies First yesterday and uncovered two fitness gyms for women instead: De Chantique Fitness and Women's Fitness Zone.

With De Chantique Fitness closed until August 27, 2012 for Raya, a visit to the Women's Fitness Zone yielded results - its aerobics trainer revealed that the gym has been "around for a while" and that they are currently renovating its space so that the gym equipments section will be separated from its aerobics area.

The aerobics trainer who preferred to be anonymous also said that the Women's Fitness Zone establishment only employs female workers.

In a separate interview, Adrianna Hj Alias from Kampung Mulaut commented that "there might be some of these gyms (for women) around in Brunei".

However, locating them remains the problem, she said.

"While I don't really mind going to gyms which cater to both men and women, I do prefer going to one, which is especially for women," she said.

"Of course, there are aerobic classes that are mostly attended by women nowadays," Adrianna said, "but what if we want to weight train?"

"If I wanted to use the treadmill, I don't mind using it if there's a guy in the room," she said, "but for weight training, there are still some of us who'd prefer to do so in a space just for women."

"It basically depends on the exercise activity that we want to do," she said.

Meanwhile, Harisah Hamdan from Kampung Kilanas said that she had actually come across a gym which catered solely for women during her studies in New Zealand.

"Even the workers there are all women," Harisah said. "When the repairmen comes, we would be informed of their presence beforehand."

Compared to her experience in New Zealand, she said that "it's hard to find one such gym here in Brunei".

"There's no reason for us not to have one because it agrees with our MIB (Malay Islamic Monarchy) culture," she said. "(An all ladies) gym also provides a safer space to workout indoors away from the sun's heat."

She added that having a gym catered just for women would not only be more comfortable for Muslims to carry out some of the "embarrassing exercise movements", but also for non-Muslim women who'd rather not "sweat it out in front of the men".

Humaira Umar agrees with Harisah's viewpoint. "It would be great if there is a proper all-women gym in Brunei with women-only managers, trainers and cleaning staff," Harisah said.

"At the moment, we do have gyms that provide areas for women, but they actually still have men who can access them, be it the male gym workers or male cleaners," she said. "So it rather beats the purpose for observant Muslim women who want to cover aurat (certain parts of the body that should not be exposed)."