Getting in shape is a common New Year’s Resolution for many. Kristy Robison and Hadeel Mahdi’s resolution was slightly bigger than that: they wanted to see an inclusive, women-only gym open in their South Louisville neighborhood.
A trained therapist, Robison recognizes the benefits of fitness. Through her education and experience with clients who have experienced trauma, she notes, “I’ve had to learn the hard way that taking care of myself has to be a priority, so I’m excited to help others take care of themselves, their families, and their mental and physical health.”
For Mahdi, a 31-year-old Iraqi immigrant and mother of four young children, the need was more personal. “After I gained weight, I started to change my diet and wanted to work out. I can’t take off my hijab [when I’m with men], but here I feel safe to do that. A women-only gym is my dream!”
Robison, who has been the Director of Hope Place since it opened last year, remembers the initial conversation with her friend well. “We were walking to get popsicles with her kids and Hadeel mentioned she needed a place to work out that was only for women, so we started praying about that.” God’s answer came through former women’s gym owner Kim Caples. “One day, [she] just called and said that she had been praying about what to do with all the equipment she no longer needed and she was wondering if we wanted it at Hope Place. She donated it all.”
The cheery new workout area is located on the third floor of Hope Place’s spacious building. It features a children’s playroom, a large sitting area, dressing rooms, private restrooms, ellipticals, treadmills, weights, and, of course, the centerpiece: all of the fitness machines required for a complete circuit workout. While the circuit takes only thirty minutes to complete, it is equivalent to a ninety-minute workout at a traditional gym.
Inspirational quotes pop off the bright pink and gray walls, while a dance mix of high energy music floods the room. Every thirty seconds, a chime announces that it’s time to switch machines. After two full circuits, the workout is complete.
“[This gym is] very important because when we opened Hope Place, our mission and priority has been to meet the needs of the community. It was Hadeel who kind of started the conversation that a women’s only gym was important for Muslim women who can’t work out with men,” explains Robison. And while they may have been essential to its design, the gym is not designated for Muslim women alone. All women are welcome to join. Currently, Robison notes, “we have 60-70 people who are interested.”
Women curious about the Hope Place Women’s Fitness Center, may come out and try the gym the first time for free. Monday through Friday from 9:30am-1:00pm and Monday through Thursday from 5:00-7:00 pm, someone will be here to help them use the equipment. Members may join online or when they arrive on site. The fees are $15 a month or $150 a year. The month-to-month option can be canceled at any time.