Fitness Pioneer Advocates for the Health and Well-Being of Women in Saudi Arabia

A 15-year veteran in the health and wellness industry, Fatima Batook is motivating women in Saudi Arabia to lead a more balanced life, while blazing trails for future generations of female fitness professionals. Reeling from the loss of her father, and the detrimental effects of an unhealthy lifestyle, 19-year-old Fatima was resolved to make a change. She signed up for a Spin class at her local gym, where a motivational instructor inspired her to test the limits of her physicality. After that class, she set out on a path toward achieving her own personal health and fitness goals, while making it her mission to use exercise as a tool to liberate and empower women and girls in her country.

Upon receiving her fitness certification, Fatima began working as a Spin instructor, and in 2012 became the owner of TIMA, the first Saudi/Arab brand for fitness and sport apparel in the Middle East. Unable to open her own fitness studio under the country’s licensing regulations for female-only sports clubs, Fatima created an unlicensed gym conducting Spin classes on a neighborhood squash court. In 2013, she began a lobbying campaign where she presented case studies to government officials on the importance of sporting facilities to combat the rising rates of obesity among women in the community. She spoke about the role exercise can play in empowering women to reach their potential and the subsequent benefits that physical activity can have on society as a whole. Through her advocacy efforts, the government officially sanctioned sporting facilities for women. In 2015, Fatima opened the country’s first female-only Spinning and Fitness Studio in Alkhobar, Saudi Arabia, and a second branch in Jeddah two years later. Since 2006, she has mentored more than 50 fully qualified female fitness instructors and is using her expertise in the industry to motivate and inspire Saudi women.

Fatima hopes her GSMP experience will equip her with the necessary tools for developing and improving the sports ecosystem for women and girls in Saudi Arabia – something unheard of just five years ago. For GSMP: Empowering Women through Sports 2021, Fatima will be mentored by Sarah McQuade, Senior Director, Accreditation & Certification and her team at the United States Tennis Association.

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