A new vocational course in personal trainer coaching is imparting young women with the skills and confidence to pursue their passion and excel in a traditionally male-dominated field.
Funded by the Government of Germany through KfW Development Bank
The sports industry, especially accessible sports facilities like public gyms, is relatively new in Lebanon. Professional opportunities for women in this industry remain limited. However, some young women are working to change this.
Rawan and Mariam are two such women. These young Lebanese have seen their lives transformed by a personal trainer course implemented by Anera, with support from UNICEF and funded by the Government of Germany through KfW Development Bank. Their inspiring success stories showcase the incredible impact of this transformative program.
In some conservative communities, there exists a prevailing gender stereotype and bias against athletic women or young women pursuing careers in personal training or coaching. Breaking these barriers and challenging norms is vital to create a more inclusive and empowering environment for women in the sports and fitness industry.
According to Rawan, a 19-year-old young woman from Tripoli, challenging norms doesn’t have to be extreme and at the expense of one’s identity.
“My jilbab was not an obstacle for me. I hope [my story] inspires [other veiled women and girls to became personal trainers]!”
Rawan discovered her passion for athleticism at a young age, overcoming scoliosis to become Lebanon's swimming and kick-boxing champion after starting to swim as therapy.
A jilbab is a loose-fitting, long outer garment worn by some Muslim women as part of a religious dress code.
“My jilbab was not an obstacle for me. I hope [my story] inspires others!”
Rawan shares, “As an athlete, I always aspired to share my knowledge with others and wanted to become a personal trainer, which led me to enroll in Anera’s course. During the training, I learned how to be a leader, understanding that it's more about the mentality and mindset, not just teaching movements. A personal trainer's value comes from the way they look at the trainee, how they speak to them, and their personality, not just the techniques they teach.”
With her newfound knowledge, Rawan has become a leader in her field. Currently a personal trainer and psychology student, she empowers women at a women's only gym and aims to specialize in pre and post-partum coaching.
Mariam, aged 23, is a passionate athlete excelling in basketball, football, and holding a black belt in karate. Intrigued by positive feedback from friends, Mariam joined the personal trainer course, graduating the course as a personal trainer with a unique perspective.
Mariam explains, “One of the most important parts I learned in the course is that a personal trainer’s most valuable trait is being humane. Emphasizing our mere humanity is essential in this profession. Trainees come with so many different and diverse personalities and mindsets.”
Mariam explains that a personal trainer must be able to get to each type of person and match what they need in order to enable them to have good results. “You must be flexible, not too serious, and encouraging with clients and trainees. Simply put, if [your client is] comfortable with you, they will see better results.”
"If [your client is] comfortable with you, they will see better results.”
Thanks to the personal trainer course implemented by Anera, and supported by UNICEF, Rawan, Mariam and six of their colleagues, both men and women, are now thriving in their new careers as personal trainers at different gyms in Tripoli, Lebanon. Their dedication and passion for fitness, coupled with invaluable lessons from the course, have empowered them to transform lives and inspire others to reach their full potential.
Initiatives like the personal trainer course play a crucial role in empowering women like Rawan and Mariam, providing them with the skills and confidence to pursue their passion and excel in a traditionally male-dominated field. By encouraging and supporting women in their athletic pursuits and professional ambitions, Lebanon can foster a more gender equal and vibrant sports culture that benefits the entire community.
As the course continues to empower aspiring personal trainers, one thing remains certain: with the right guidance and determination, dreams become achievements, and the journey of empowerment never ends.