Interview by Halimat Shode
Muslim women have been creating their own modest activewear that allows them to excercise in public without comprising their Islamic values. We sat down to speak with the creator of the recently launched modest active wear brand, AnahMaria Active to see what inspired her to create!
Asalamu Alaikum sister thanks so much for speaking with us! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am Anna Peters the brains behind Anah Maria Active, revert Muslim, born and raised in London the youngest of 9 siblings from very traditional hard-working Nigerian parents. My passion has always been fashion design and fitness so to be able to combine the two has been a dream come true.
What inspired you to create a modest active-wear brand?
AM Active was inspired when I visited my local gym. As a Muslim myself, I was very aware of how restrictive contemporary women’s active wear can be; many of my friends would purchase clothing two sizes larger than they required, simply to maintain their modesty while working out. On this particular gym visit I was perturbed to see a fellow sister working out in a Salwar Kameez; a long, very loose-fitting traditional South-Asian style top and trousers with hijab. While the woman was managing successfully, I was struck by just how dangerous this might be, should any of the loose fabric the lady was wearing become entangled in the gym equipment.
The thought stayed with me, playing on her mind, and I set out on a mission to discover comfortable sportswear suitable for all women–not just Muslims–who wish to exercise without having to expose their bodies, whether through personal preference or religious conviction.
What obstacles did you face setting it up, and have you overcome them?
When you first start out you will be faced with many obstacles but the trick is to keep on going and don’t give up.
As a women I sometimes find it difficult to be taken serious by male business men. Men generally prefer to do business with other men or at least take them more seriously; sometimes it can be frustrating. So you have to find a way of talking to them so that they realise you really do mean business .
What are your thoughts on the modest active wear market? Have you observed any major changes since the creation of it?
This is really a fantastic time to be a Muslim women in terms of fashion, there are so many brands catering for modest women. If you look back two years ago it was such a struggle to find anything suitably modest. We really have come a long way.
We have now been up and running for 3 months and Mashaallah we are growing.
What has your fitness journey been like?
When I first started my fitness journey I thought I’d be able to make all changes at once but I soon realized if you try to change everything about your lifestyle and fitness routine all at the same time you will almost always fail. The best approach is to make small changes, and build upon these small changes week after week for example if you drink fizzy drinks or caffeinated drinks each day replace one or two of these beverages with a glass of water and then gradually replace more of these beverages with water in future weeks you will no longer crave your daily caffeine fix.
Do you have advice for sisters looking to get active?
1.Ask at your local gym if they have any ladies only sessions. Most will. There’s a big market for all female exercise classes, whether swimming, aerobics, spin classes, or simply using the gym equipment. If your local gym doesn’t offer anything, why not get a group of friends together and suggest that they do? Most businesses are keen to attract new customers, so you could be helping them out too.
2.Try exercising outdoors. You don’t necessarily need to go to a gym to get fit; a good walk or a jog can be a brilliant way to get your heart beating and your muscles working. If you have kids, pushing a pram up a hill is almost as good a gym session!
3. Find some modest sportswear. I had great difficulty doing this, so I made my own! OK, so not everyone can just go out and produce their own line of active clothing; it was something that I’m passionate about, so I spent a lot of time working on the design and it’s finally now gone into production. Anah Maria Active currently offers tracksuits, hijabs and a sports jackets, but we’ll soon be launching outdoor kit and swimwear. The trick is to deliver loose-fitting garments that are still comfortable to wear and don’t get in the way of your activities.
4. Try exercising at home. If you’re really uncomfortable exercising in front of others, you could try investing in some home exercise equipment. It’s nowhere near as expensive to buy an exercise bike as it used to be, and you can pick up a balance ball for as little as £10. Anything you can do is better than nothing, so why not just give it a try?
Where can we find your modest active wear?
We currently sell on our website Anahmaria.com and ship worldwide but we will also be showcasing at this years Muslim Lifestyle Expo in London on 30th April -1st May. So please come and say hi and sample the new collection.
Where can we follow you on social media?