As part of her passionate endeavour to embrace a fitter, healthier and balanced lifestyle, Red Bull athlete Shaikha Al Qassemi shares her advice to take you a step closer to living better.
In 2014, I got my first job in CrossFit as a part-time coach for ladies classes in Altitude, Sharjah. In the first month of coaching, some classes would have just one attendee and most of the time classes were cancelled.
However, within a few months, the classes started to grow into a thriving community of students, working ladies and mothers. In my experience, commercial gyms and personal trainers didn’t give me sufficient guidance when it comes to nutrition, recovery or the importance of sleep.
I’ve always said that people lose sight of what CrossFit truly is because of its competitive nature. Fitness is about improving your physical, mental and emotional health. For me, the benefits of training mentally outweigh physical results. The ladies in the gym would always emphasize improvements to their mental and emotional health as well as their energy levels and quality of sleep.
Many of us have a busy work and social life with little time to mindfully change our eating and resting habits. Many don’t take into consideration how important food and sleep is for the mind and body. Your quality of sleep improves with exercise, as it lowers stress-levels throughout the day, especially if you start your mornings with exercise. The brain also functions better when your stress-levels are low.
The psychological benefits of training also include gaining confidence, reducing anxiety and improving your well-being and mood. Exercise and physical activity help improve mental health, cognitive skills and helps you to focus.
I sat down with some of the girls that I could at my gym and wanted them to reflect on how CrossFit has made such an improvement in their day-to-day lives. I have always said that people lose sight of what CrossFit truly is because of its competitive nature. Fitness is about improving your physical, mental and emotional health.
Sukaina, a 40-year-old thyroid patient and a mother of three started her CrossFit journey in August and now trains five times a week. “CrossFit means everything to me, it has changed my life completely,” she says passionately. “I am calmer, more aware of the food I eat, more confident and CrossFit has changed my mindset. I have also lost 10kgs having cut out sugar.”
Anne, a 34-year-old housewife and mother, who trains six times a week, started her CrossFit journey in June. “CrossFit has enabled me to change my lifestyle completely, it’s all about the supportive community. It continuously breaks personal limits that I set myself.” She says, “I have started to eat better and eat more. I’ve seen a big improvement in my sleep, movement and stress levels. I feel lighter, healthier and more relaxed than ever”.
23-year-old Afra has a full-time job but has never skips a week of training. Since 2016 she’s been coming to Platform four times a week. “To me, CrossFit means community, support, challenge and competitiveness. It helps you to quickly learn, challenge yourself and try new things. It has taken me out of my comfort zone, I am more confident, social, outgoing and physically stronger”, she says. “It has changed my mood, improved my sleep pattern and I spend my day looking forward to the class”.
CrossFit is one of the best ways to kick start your fitness journey due to the positive and supportive community. The gym thrives on support and encouragement. I found a purpose in one of the lowest moments in my life, when I felt lost, confused, depressed and unhappy with where my life was going.
When I began training consistently, I noticed both my focus and learning improved drastically in comparison to when I was studying in university. So begin your journey and let’s get physical to improve our quality of life together.
Are you competing in any fitness events in April and May?
Here’s our top three to get involved in!
WADI ADVENTURE RACE
Saturday, April 21
The popular Wadi Adventure Race returns this month where athletes will be pushed to the limits in a gruelling obstacle course.
Since its debut in 2012, the race has gone from strength to strength, and organisers are expecting another strong turnout this month for what will be the seventh edition overall.
Competitors will have to overcome a 5k, 10k and 15k obstacle course where they will crawl, run, carry, swim, swing and climb their way to the finish line.
TIME: From 8am
MORE INFO: Wadi Adventure Race
AL WATHBA DUATHLON
Saturday, April 28
The last race of the series will be held at the Al Wathba Cycle Park, bringing athletes of different disciplines onto the same playing field.
Whether you’re a cyclist, duathlete or triathlete, the race is suited to your abilities with a run/bike/run format.
Competitors can take part in either teams of two or solo and you can be in as many of the events as you want.
TIME: From 7.10am
MORE INFO: Al Wathba Duathlon
URBAN-ULTRA KALBA HILLS CYCLE CHALLENGE
Friday, May 4
Challenge yourself on the beautiful lagoons of Kalba, Sharjah and through the surrounding Kalba Hills with a spectacular coastal descent – 70km elite or 37km along smooth tarmac roads.
It is a tough challenge and requires training, with riders asked to reach the finish no later than 9am for 70k and 7.30am for 37km.
Riders who are competing in the 70k must finish first loop no later than 7.15am.
TIME: From 6am
MORE INFO: Urban-Ultra Kalba Hills Cycle Challenge
Ladies get ready for a morning of yoga, sandstorm circuits and Zumba.
Going to the gym is as much a mental exercise as it is physical for those lacking motivation, so to make things more exciting, Washington Apples and Talise fitness has sent out a challenge to the women of the UAE. Females are preparing for a trio of workout activities like no other which will put both the body and mind to the test.
Open to ladies of all ages and abilities, the event will consist of three different activities starting with a sunrise beach yoga session, followed by a sandstorm circuit and a Zumba class, in what will be the ultimate morning of health and fitness.
The day begins with a yoga class to unify the mind, while also improving flexibility and balance, and ends with Zumba, arguably the toughest of the three workouts. The tough fitness class combines dance and exercises and is inspired by Latin moves and music. The session also uses a variety of styles in its routines, including Cumbia, Merengue, salsa, reggae, mambo, rumba, flamenco, and hip-hop and burns between 350 to 800 calories per class too.
Those of all levels of fitness are encouraged to take part in the challenge, with free entry and energizing smoothies made from Washington Apples to refresh you while you get your inner athlete out. The Jumeirah Beach Hotel offers great fitness facilities with indoor and outdoor training zones, six tennis courts, four swimming pools, five km running trails and access to a 900-metre private beach.
Participants are encouraged to arrive early as registration begins at 7:30am at Talise Fitness, Jumeirah Beach Hotel. As if feeling good about yourself post-workout wasn’t enough, there will also be prizes given away to lucky ladies who will walk away with a full day spa experience at Talise SPA.
The event is brought to you by Washington Apples, which are each packed with complex carbohydrates that gradually break down and release energy over a long period of time, giving you the extra boost needed after a workout. To register email [email protected]
What: Washington Apples and Talise fitness challenge
Where: Jumeirah Beach Hotel
When: Friday 13th April
Contact: [email protected]