A decision to close 10 women's health gyms in Madina has been greeted with fury by female customers. The women claim the sudden decision shows no respect for their loyalty, health and privacy and will force them to exercise in public.
They have now called on the authorities to reconsider the decision.
The director of environment and health for the Madina Mayoralty, Muhammad Hashim, said three women's health gyms in Madina which are known to be operating without permits will be allowed to remain open.
"The solution is not to shut down these gyms, but to monitor them. Not giving licenses to these gyms will result in a black market of women's gyms," he said.
However, this is not good enough, says Qamar Muhammad who used to go to one of the closed gyms every day with her friends for a workout.
"Walking in public places is dangerous, besides we do not have any privacy as these places are also used by men. We're also susceptible to injuries," she said, according to a report in Asharq newspaper.
Hind Al-Subai'ee, Qamar's friend, said the decision was surprising. She wants the gyms to be reopened and suggests that authorities engage in monitoring the gyms instead of shutting them down for no valid reason.
"I used to go everyday to the gym and I was sad when I was told the gym would be closed. I don't know where I can work out now," she said.
Mona Hassan is obese and working out in the gym was her only way to lose weight. She was frustrated and angry when she learned her gym was shut down. She searched for another one but found that all the others had also been closed.
"There are women's gyms in Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam and other places. Why were Madina's gyms in particular closed down?" She says the decision deprives women of their rights to work out.
Khloud Fahd said authorities should educate gyms on how to comply with health requirements and other procedures instead of shutting them down.
"Closing them only deprives women of the fun they have at these gyms," she said. Shortage of equipment
One gym manger said the closures came after the Madina Directorate of Health Affairs found that they did not have enough professional sports equipment.
"Closing the gyms has caused a problem for many women. A large number of women keep calling me hoping that they'll hear good news and that the clubs will be reopened," she said. Two hundred women used to visit her gym, which was located in a private hospital and operating with a "license for therapy care".
Muhammad Hashim also said: "The Mayoralty requires women's gyms to have a license from the Ministry of Health."
However, Fahd Asad Khasheem, Director of Medical Licenses at the Directorate of Madina Health Affairs, said: "Medical licenses are issued to therapy centers inside hospitals to provide therapeutic services to patients. If we find any health club inside a hospital providing sports services to non-patients, we shut it down, because it is not permitted to do so."