posted on 07/05/2012: 759 views
When Amna Al Haddad was struggling with her body weight, she decided it was time for her to do something about it. That was about three years ago. Now she is the first Emirati and GCC woman to figure in a competition testing the whole gamut of a human's physical capacities on the world stage, when she competed in the Reebok Crossfit Asia Regionals held in Seoul, South Korea, which concluded on Sunday.
The Regionals saw 30 teams comprising athletes from 17 regions around the world. "If you want to go ahead far, you have to choose a sport you love,” said Amna. And that's exactly what she did when she decided to do one of the most beneficial and yet not so commonly pursued exercises by women: lifting weights.
"Walk into a gym, and you'd expect to see men lifting weights while women work the cardio equipment. Many people still believe that weightlifting is something for men and this misconception has been ingrained in women's psyche for decades,” explained Amna.
With a height of 158cm and weighing only 50kg, the 22-year-old Emirati can lift almost double her body weight. "It's a long but very rewarding journey to get to this point,” said Amna. Talking of misconceptions about women taking to her sport, she added that swimming against the tide is what makes an athlete's journey "fun.”
"One of the common misconceptions harboured by women is the fear they will bulk up as a result of lifting weights. That's simply not true. Women don't have the right hormone balance to build enormous muscles,” clarified Amna. As a result of this fear, which is only a myth, women neglect the exercise that will get them the results they want, she added.
"There are people who believe women aren't supposed to be physically strong or powerful, a notion somehow still in vogue in 2012. In fact, I came across people who told me I belonged to the kitchen. What they fail to understand is that it is essential that women keep themselves fit, no matter what sport they pursue,” she pointed out.
"As for me, weightlifting has changed my health, my physique and my life for the better.”
Amna, who is also working as a media professional, said that working full-time and keeping up with training hasn't always been easy, "but once it becomes part of your lifestyle, it's just like waking up and brushing your teeth. It becomes part of who you are,” said Amna.
"The most important thing is your attitude which can make all the difference,” she added.
However, not enough people are exercising in this part of the world. There is awareness everywhere and people know they have to exercise but the problem is no matter where you go, there is fast food available,” said Amna, adding that in today's age, people want things to be done the easy way and the quickest way to save time and money, but in the long run the opposite happens.
Rigorous routine and inner determination is what keeps one going, explained Amna, whose performance was creditable during the course of the five-week-long competition, standing 77th out of a total number of 170 women in the whole of Asia. Earlier, en route to qualifying for the Regionals, she was ranked as one of the top three women of her team, CrossFit LifeSparks.
"I love competing. There is a sense of adrenaline rush — shaking off your fears and pushing yourself to being your very best. Everything I've experienced in this sport: the crowd shouting your name in encouragement — most of all for me – it's helped to break down some misconceptions,” wrote Amna in her blog.
"At the end of the day, I may not be the best out there, strongest or fittest — but I have the heart and the passion to be the best I can be for me, and I am strong for me. Not because of where I am from, what I wear, or my skin colour — it's simple, because in the end, it's just me vs. the barbell.” – The Gulf Today
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