#360fit: CrossFit Abu Dhabi opens its doors in Al Mushrif

Kara Martin 18:14 23/04/2015
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High end: The equipment and space is tailored perfectly for CrossFit.

CrossFit Abu Dhabi is the fourth and newest ‘box’ to open in the capital, proving that ‘the sport of fitness’ is still the ever-growing trend.

Located next to the UAE Wrestling, Judo and Jiu Jitsu Federation in Mushrif, it caters to not just those new and wannabe CrossFitters living closer to the city centre, but even some off island who the club have managed to impress within less than two months of being open.

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Sport360° had to take a closer look and see what sets them apart.

It’s true, CrossFit Abu Dhabi (CFAD) looks like your average box – sparse with dark walls, including one dedicated to a massive piece of custom graffiti, intimidating equipment and hip-hop banging away in the background.

But its managing partners Hisham Awad and Khalifa Alquabisi – both big into fitness and on the hunt for a CrossFit scene of their own here since 2013 – have actually done a lot of ground work, researching and travelling to the US and Europe, to ensure that all equipment is safe and CrossFit approved; from the custom rigs and racks, the rowers and banks of kettle bells, plates and other strength and conditioning equipment provided by Rogue, the leading provider in America, down to the special soft but sturdy flooring that’s easier on the joints when you’re smashing through your burpees. 

The whole gym and its members are tuned in via a CrossFit app called Wodify that allows coaches to directly interact with clients by posting the workout of the day ahead of time, by allowing members to register and sign in for classes, record their results via a live leaderboard while in the box, and compare results with past and future workouts.

You can view your history and progress across various aspects of CrossFit too, from skills in gymnastics, weightlifting and metabolic conditioning, even track personal nutrition. And naturally – CrossFitters do love a bit of healthy rivalry – all this is shareable via social media.

It’s easy to see why CrossFit is one of those disciplines that the new and curious feel they first need to train up for in a standard gym just to make sure they don’t embarrass themselves fresh into the box, but at CFAD we saw completely new converts mixed in with advanced members and this is because, while they have fundamentals courses for beginners all the way up to ones suited to only the elites, the Wodify app can also take a workout of the day and provide modifications and variations where needed for the less advanced; that way everyone is technically doing the same exercise but scaled to their fitness level.

Fun and fitness: Clients have bought into the ethos at CFAD.

What was surprising too was the huge Emirati following at CFAD – over 50 per cent of members are local. Many are new to the sport yet have found themselves addicted to climbing its seemingly never-ending skill goal ladder.

“Initially the first priority a lot of UAE nationals were coming in with was that they wanted to lose weight and get a six pack,” says Awad.

“But now, after giving the classes some time you see that they’re actually enjoying their time and just coming more often for a fun challenge. They’ve forgotten to notice whether or not they’ve lost weight and got fitter.

“The ladies love it too. Really, the community we’re building is unique, everybody is supportive and willing to help whether they know the person next to them or not. We’re proud of the name CFAD has been getting so far.

“Another important strength we have is that our coaches are coaches; they’re not big regional athletes, they’re here for the people, with a vision of being some of the leading coaches in the industry, and that’s why we chose them.

“This is important because it means their approach to teaching new people is more understanding. They really guide and support you through new movements to make sure the environment stays safe.”

With a Liquid Nutrition – a Canaidan brand that centres around a healthy organic, plant-based diet – juice and smoothie bar on site, the owners hope to also teach members about proper nutrition and safe use of protein supplements. 

Travis Jewett, a chiropractor from the US who works for CrossFit and CrossFit Mobility staff, was in town and admitted to being impressed with CFAD.

He said: “I’ve been speaking to Awad a lot just trying to get his take on what they’re trying to do here. Based on that, and on seeing the coaches in action, they are putting the right things in place to make sure that the people in the Abu Dhabi community get the right coaching they really need out of CrossFit; they’re doing really well.”

CFAD offer various courses and memberships for beginners all the way up to advanced, as well as welcoming drop-ins and open gym time all at attractive rates.

What: CrossFit Abu Dhabi, Al Mushrif
Where: 19th Street, Al Mushrif, Abu Dhabi (Adjacent to UAE Wrestling, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu Federation)
Open: Sunday-Thursday: 10:00-20:00 / Saturday: 12:00-20:00
Prices: Enquire within
Contact: www.crossfitabudhabi.com / 050 646 8995

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