Is It Permissible for Women to Work Out at a Mixed Gym?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

Is it permissible for women to work out at a mixed gym or fitness center if she is appropriately and adequately dressed?

Answer

The question of a mixed gym depends on a few things because the issue is not black and white.

For example, is there music at this gym?
Are there hours when there are fewer people?
Is there a lot of free intermingling, or is it conservative?
How are others dressed at this gym?
Is it possible to do some modest exercise discreetly and then depart?

Although some scholars give a blanket ruling that it is not permissible for anyone to attend a mixed gym, we know that many gyms today are accommodating, don’t have music, people are conservative about their workouts, and lack fitness in the umma has become an epidemic.

Due to these issues, one should assess their gym: choose the most dignified gym and timings, avoid music, lower one’s gaze, dress modestly and not intermingle freely with the opposite gender except when cordial. Some gyms, such as the YMCA, offer a women-only section.

One can undoubtedly pray istikhara on whether the gym in question is appropriate or not. Generally in life, if you make wholesome choices in everything you do, such as eating, exercising, keeping someone’s company, etc., with good intentions and always keep Allah Most High at the forefront of your mind, you will succeed (tawfiq) Insha Allah.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.