After years of struggling with myself to find the balance between what I do daily and how I looked physically, I came to the realization that I was actually trying to find myself and see what kind of lifestyle reflects who I really am- the positive, fun, optimistic, energetic me. This led me to my life’s mission of helping people to change their lives…which eventually led to Tima being born, and I can proudly say that Tima is the first ever Saudi brand for sports apparel.”- Fatima Batook
Leaving her career in marketing behind, Fatima Batook left the ‘corporate world’ in order to focus on her passion- fitness. She is now committed to taking that passion forward and inspiring Saudi and Arab women to find their fitness ways. Through healthier living and regular exercise, Fatima aims to reenergize and liberate for the rest of the roles they play in their daily lives.
She then created TIMA®-the first Saudi/Arab brand for fitness and sport apparel in the Middle East, her tool or vehicle to reach out to more women in Saudi and beyond- to share a bigger message for Saudi and Arab women of the Middle East that anything is possible and fitness can be a tool for successful living.
Growing up did you always have a passion for fitness? Did you ever think that it would turn into a career?
I was an active kid, playing outdoors and regularly riding on my bike until I was 15, but I did not yet have a passion for fitness. My passion for fitness didn’t begin until I started to perceive it as a personal goal, and started to understand it better. What amazed me most was that fact that it’s not just about the body and muscle function; there is also a huge element of liberation and self-expression. I never thought that fitness would turn into a career for me, but I’m glad that it did. I started off doing it on the side-lines of my life, but I loved it so much that I started to give it the same attention I give to everything that I truly love in my life.
Coming from a marketing background and career, what was the turning point in your life that made you decide it was time to follow your true passion of fitness and creating Tima?
I realized that people were reacting to what I believed in and what I was doing. I don’t work for the job title or position or money, what I do today is for a higher purpose: to empower women and make a change in the world, starting in Saudi and the Arab world, encouraging them to be healthier and fitter. I saw people’s response to my vision and mission, and it was this response that pushed me to take the decision to follow my passion.
Tell us more about Tima, what is it all about?
TIMA is the first Saudi/Arab brand for female active wear. TIMA was established in 2012 and we launched the first collection in 2013. TIMA was created with a mission to encourage healthy and positive lifestyles, shifting people to a state of ‘Self Love’ through the brand’s values of being ‘dedicated’ and ‘committed’ to getting ‘motivated’. We want the brand to add value wherever it goes, celebrating the wonderful blessing and gift of being a woman who is feminine, strong, hardworking, unique, fun, confident and powerful! When I first started the brand in 2012, it was more of a mission to encourage fitness among Saudi women. I thought it would be a cool idea to have a Saudi sport brand made by a Saudi female. I wanted people to be intrigued and to hear my story and be inspired.
When changing careers from having a stable job to venturing to become an entrepreneur did you find support from family and friends?
Most people thought it was the wrong decision and never took it seriously. Many people pushed me to keep both worlds. This encouraged me to really plan for it properly, and to be financially independent so I that I could take this decision on my own.
What are some challenges that you have faced during this journey?
The idea seemed simple in theory, but not everyone accepted a Saudi brand for active wear. Initially, they only wanted international brands, but today I can proudly say we have cracked the stereotype, and even won best sport brand of the year from Sport 360 in March 2015.
Do you find that Arab women in general and Saudi women specifically are into fitness and make it a part of their life?
In general, Saudi women are not very into fitness and do not make it part of their lives, but I can say that now it is changing! The awareness of the importance of being healthy and fit has increased in recent years. Women nowadays are into working out and have a better understanding of training and different trends. It’s nice to see the varied interests; some women are interested in yoga and Pilates, while others are into intense workouts such as bootcamp.
The biggest excuse many women and men use is that they have no time to exercise, what would you tell them and how does one overcome that?
I would tell them to organize their priorities and add themselves as a priority. In my opinion, women and men should find the time for exercise to be an essential part of their lives. I would suggest that they find at least an hour a day, 3 times a week, to work out. At the very least, they should do high intensity training that increases the heart rate over a short amount of time.
In what way can fitness empower women?
Fitness, in its various forms, can empower and change lives. Exercise builds confidence, and makes women dedicated and committed. It helps them to love themselves and overcome their challenges. Exercise brings women together and unites them. Women around the world have the same basic needs, dreams, ambitions and aspirations.
One thing we’re blessed with in this part of the world, is that we are socially connected. Even with our busy lives, we have strong bonds, we stand with each other, support each other and connect with each other on many different levels. And I can see that on a daily basis from the women I encounter in my life.
What advice would you give young girls and women who want to follow your foot steps and have a change in career or pursue their passion?
My advice would be start today! If you want to do something don’t just sit and wait for something to happen, you need to start immediately and be determined. If you need a push, you can look for a mentor that has the same interest or went through a similar experience, who can help encourage you on your journey through stories and support. And through it all don’t quit on yourself. Be strong because it will be hard, but you will only grow from it and be stronger.
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