Breaking stereotypes, many Jordanian women are embarking on a challenging journey to stay mentally and physically fit amid the pandemic, and some find CrossFit an essential way to build their strength.
CrossFit is a form of high intensity interval training; it is a strength and conditioning workout made up of functional movements performed at a high intensity level over a certain amount of time. It was introduced in Jordan in 2014.
Dema Zebdieh, a 35-year-old CrossFit athlete and coach, has been the fittest woman in Jordan in the CrossFit Open for two years in a row.
“The beginning of my CrossFit journey was mentally and physically challenging, but it has motivated me to be a better athlete and a stronger coach. I love my job and I do it with passion, despite the prejudice of the Jordanian culture regarding women in sports. Some people believe a female is not supposed to be muscular, but I broke that stereotype and I am proud of it,” Zebdieh told The Jordan Times.
Gym closures during the pandemic affected all athletes and coaches, the government disregarded the importance of this sector as a source of income to many professionals, Zebdieh explained.
Being CrossFit Open champion for two years in a row has given Zebdieh the chance to compete abroad, both as an individual and as part of a team.
“Competing abroad in the official CrossFit Games was an outstanding experience and a dream that has come true for me,” Zebdieh added.
“Athletes abroad tend to be full-time professionals and they receive all the support they need, in contrast, we here face many challenges. Neverthless, we manage to produce satisfactory results, which is why our achievements are especially meaningful to us,” Zebdieh noted.
She indicated that many Jordanian athletes do not get to have the future they deserve because of the lack of support.
“I hope the government support athletes in sports like CrossFit, especially during the pandemic. I also hope they reopen gyms soon as it is our only source of income and there are athletes who need to train for competitions,” she added.
Qout Abaza, a 29-year-old CrossFit athlete and coach who has been at the top of CrossFit charts as one of the fittest women in Jordan for the past several years, expressed some of the challenges she faces in her athletic career.
“I find it very discouraging that most people think of sports as something secondary or unnecessary. They only look at it from a leisure point of view forgetting about the massive effects it has on one’s confidence, physical strength, mental health and over all wellness,” Abaza told The Jordan Times
“As a woman, lifting heavy weights and doing high level skills gave me the confidence to tackle unexpected challenges and external pressures; it translates into all aspects of one’s life. The stereotype of an athletic woman was hard to break at first, but with time it’s becoming more accepted and appreciated by others,” Abaza added.
According to Abaza, the government is not involved as much is it should be in supporting athletes.
“Unfortunately, the government doesn’t appreciate the impact that training and leading a healthy lifestyle can have on people,” she said.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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