We hear it all the time: Exercise is good for your health.
At every single doctor’s appointment, in magazines, on blogs. Being fit should
be a way of life. All of us resonate with this, however, many are unable to
walk the path towards a fitter life due to restrictive social and cultural
norms. Taunts like “this is not ladylike” to “fitness is not going to pay the
bills” have suppressed too many dreams. But not anymore.
The fitness scene in Saudi Arabia is slowly progressing – allowing state school girls to take physical education classes for the first time, women to attend soccer games, granting licenses to women’s gyms and hosting the World Boxing Super Series. In October 2019, WWE staged a female wrestling match in Riyadh, attended by 68,000 fans. In a country where exercising in public was culturally deemed inappropriate for women, many athletes in KSA are now breaking barriers and inspiring others to openly pursue their passion for sports and fitness.
The recent dramatic social reforms sweeping KSA have shone
spotlight on some athletes who are inspiring thousands.
One such athlete is Rasha Al Khamis, who braved insults and taunts to become the first female certified boxer in Saudi Arabia, something unimaginable not long ago. She shattered society’s perception of boxing being a “man’s sport”. Khamis said “boxing instills confidence and reduces negative energy while energizing the mind.” It helped her to develop her character and skills like speed and efficiency. In 2017, she packed her bags and joined 11 other Saudi women to climb the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Khamis also earned the Guinness World Record for playing a football match with 30 other women on the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Halah Alhamrani, a Saudi female boxing trainer, runs FlagBoxing (women’s gym) and helps empower many women. She is the only woman on KSA’s MMA Federation board. When it comes to training, Alhamrani says “that feeling of complete empowerment is an addiction that you can’t shake.”
Amal Alshahrani is Saudi Arabia’s first female CrossFit Games national champion and co-founder of CrossFit Alkhobar. Until a few years ago, Amal Alshahrani and her CrossFit crew were just a small group of women doing squats and deadlifts together in a tiny room. Now, CrossFit has become something of a trend in KSA, among women too.
Haitham Gazzaz, a boxing trainer, started weightlifting at 14 to escape insecurities from being overweight and transformed completely. His passion being boxing, he is now a fitness coach and defence trainer.
These athletes show us that there is more to fitness than
meets the eye. The confidence you gain from fitness is not just vanity. It runs
deeper than that. You come out stronger as a person and gain the strength to
face many challenges.
SSS will be bringing exclusive interviews from some of these athletes, highlighting the pride they have for fitness and set an example for everyone out there. Follow our blog and social media channels for more exciting content.
Defy the odds. Break the norms. Find your voice. Forge a new
fitness culture with SSS.