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Shaikha Al Qassemi, 27, a Crossfit athlete from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) started her journey in early 2013 with a growing passion to change her lifestyle. Shaikha is also a Level 1 Crossfit coach and has experience in coaching in many different specialities within Crossfit. She coached ladies classes in both Sharjah and Dubai and during that period the improvements in her students encouraged her to want to inspire more women to pursue a healthier lifestyle.
Shaikha has been competing in Crossfit since 2013. Some of her achievements include placing 3rd in the Gulf category, her first regional competition, Battle of the East in 2015 in Kuwait and placing 3rd in the international category in Battle of Heroes in Bahrain in 2016.
“My aim isn't solely to compete to the podium, my aim is to inspire Arab women along the journey, that is my race to a podium finish. My mission is to change the UAE fitness movement, increase the awareness, encourage more women and men to get stronger and fitter for life, and to make a change for future generations” explains Shaikha.
I had the pleasure of being able to ask Shaikha ten questions about her journey to become a Crossfit Athlete.
Q1: You were in a car accident in 2013 and suffered a bad knee injury. What advice do you have for people who suffer a serious set-back on their fitness journey to keep training and stay motivated?
I would advise them to use this time to focus on what they CAN control, we are put into situations and consequences to find perspective. I took that time to focus on strengthening my upper body with strict movements and it made me so much stronger. I also took that time to coach ladies classes and sign up for courses to gain more knowledge.
Q2: You are into Crossfit. What is Crossfit?
Crossfit is defined as constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. Functional movements are basic core movements of life, from squatting and picking an object to pressing the object over head onto a shelf. Crossfit workouts consist of gymnastics, weightlifting, and body weight movements like running.
Q3: How often do you train and what is your recommendation for rest periods?
I train 5-6 times a week, some days twice a day some once a day depending on my recovery. I recommend people to test their ability to train and rest, start with 3 times a week of training then gradually add an extra day of training and take at least 1-2 rest days per week.
Q4: What three key exercises would you recommend to someone who is just starting out on their fitness journey?
- Get strong: lift weights, you need a strong foundation to build your fitness.
- Stay mobile: stretch and roll often, mobility is very important to be able to move freely in all positions.
- Work your abs and back: a strong core and a strong back will keep you stable in all movements from running to lifting!
Q5: How do you stay motivated to keep training every week? Do you have any tips on how to stay positive and motivated in everyday life?
Keep reminding yourself of your personal goals, why do you want to train? Why do you want to be fit? I have personal goals that I set every few months, sometimes I reach them, sometimes I don't. It's not the end of the world. I check my next days programming probably few times a day, I set goals for that day, I get excited, I visualize it and put on my favorite tunes on my way to the gym!
Q6: What does your diet look like and do you use any kind of supplements or superfoods?
I try to change up my diet every few months just according to what I need. I am currently signed up for Fuel Up since they deliver it to the city I live in and I can calculate my calorie intake.
My supplements consist of three main things: Omega 3, Amino Acid and Xendurance. I do take my daily green vitamins and hair vitamins as well.
Q7: What is your favourite food?
Burgers and sushi!
Q8: What does your morning routine look like?
Some days, I wake up, get some work done, attend meetings or if I have morning cardio then I get to the track or the gym. I have my meal straight after, maybe have a nap or get some more work done.
Q9: Do you use any kind of personal fitness technology?
SUUNTO is my current favorite fitness watch, I just purchased the Spartan edition and I am in love with the touch screen technology and accuracy.
Q10: Finally, do you have any tips you can share on how to set and achieve your fitness goals?
Have a journal, write all your progresses down. After working out or before bed, the key is to remind yourself of how far you have come and to constantly set goals to get better.
You can find Shaikha at her website: www.kikiforcrossfit.com where she shares more details about her inspiring fitness journey.
Thank you so much Shaikha, for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview!