Cara Standley is helping train up exercise professionals in a first for the kingdom.
And one UAE entrepreneur is helping women ride the wave.
As the founder of fitness education provider Empiric, Cara Standley is helping women in the kingdom work as trainers thanks to her company’s accredited programmes.
“There is a huge shortage of properly qualified female fitness instructors who can meet the surge in demand [in Saudi],” says Standley.
“By providing education and internationally recognised fitness qualifications for women trainers in Saudi Arabia, we are setting the bar for the industry.”
Empiric’s regulated courses are the first of their kind for female fitness professionals in Saudi, says Standley, and are recognised by the Register of Exercise Professionals.
“Until now, trainers had to be recruited fully qualified from outside Saudi, and most of the training done in the kingdom has been in-house,” she told Emirates Woman.
“Recruitment of fitness staff in Saudi has its challenges, so to be able to train fitness instructors in situ eases this problem, but also gives the staff personal and professional development, and a clear career path.”
Standley, who previously worked for Fitness First Middle East, says 50 women were trained in Empiric’s first sessions in the kingdom, with the next programmes focused around pre and post-natal exercise.
“The women were a mix of Saudis and expatriates, including British, Ukrainian, Canadian, Russian and Armenian nationals,” she added.
“The appetite among all women in Saudi to join gyms, do exercise classes, get fit, and socialise with other women through fitness is huge and the recent law change has given them the opportunity to do something about it.
“By training just one personal trainer, you can make positive changes to the lives of potentially hundreds of women.”
While there are other training programmes in the kingdom, Standley warns against working with unaccredited teachers.
“If you go to an unqualified instructor, you risk injury through over-exercising or undertaking types or levels of exercise that aren’t suitable for you,” she says.
Following the law change in February, more women’s only gyms have opened in the kingdom, where almost 50 per cent of women were found to be physically inactive in a government study.
For those in Saudi looking to start their fitness journey, Standley advises giving everything a go before deciding on the discipline for you.
“You need to enjoy the exercise in order to stick to it, so if you’re unsure, try out different things – swimming, gym workouts, dance exercise, weight training – until you find something you enjoy,” she says.
“A well-qualified trainer will be able to guide you and will tailor a plan specifically for you so that you can exercise safely regardless of your starting fitness level.”