The importance of all year-round fitness on your mental, emotional and physical health.
As part of my passionate endeavor to educate the public about better ways to embrace a fitter, healthier and balanced lifestyle, I have come up with a series of articles to share with you to take you one step closer to living better.
In 2014, I got my first job in CrossFit as a part time coach for ladies classes in Altitude, Sharjah. In the first month of coaching, some classes would have one attendee and most of the times classes were cancelled because no ladies would attend.
Within a few months, the classes started to slowly grow into a beautiful community of students, working ladies and mothers. In my personal experience, commercial gyms and personal trainers didn’t serve me as guidance when it comes to nutrition, recovery and even the importance of sleep.
I sat down with some of the girls that I could at my gym and wanted them to reflect on how CrossFit has made such an improvement in their day to day lives. I have always said that people lose sight of what CrossFit truly is because of its competitive nature. Fitness is about improving your physical, mental and emotional health.
I concluded that the effects of physical training on the mental outweighed it’s physical outcome. The ladies in the gym would always emphasize on their mental and emotional health as well as improvements in their energy levels and quality of sleep.
We all lead a stressful work life, social life and barely any time to mindfully change our eating habits and training, many don’t take in consideration how important food and sleep is for the mind and body as much as training is. Quality of sleep improves with exercise since it lowers stress levels across your day, especially if you start your mornings with activity. And with lower stress comes better focus and overall brain function.
The psychological benefits of training include gaining and improving their confidence, reduced anxiety, improved well-being, moods and reduced stress. Exercise and physical activity help improve mental health, cognitive skills, focus and improves self-confidence that could possibly be a factor to psychological variables.
CrossFit is one of the best ways to kick start your fitness journey due to the positive and supportive community. The gym strives on support and encouragement, coaches supporting members and members supporting members as well. I found a purpose in one the lowest moments in my life, when I felt lost, confused, depressed and unhappy with where my life was going.
When I started my journey within CrossFit, I could think clearly, my thoughts were not clouded with thoughts of depression and anxiety. My mind was clearer, eager for learning, eager to be active, to read, to write and to create. The more inspired I was, the more I wanted to share and educate others about it’s positive benefits.
And most importantly, cardio training has been proven to improve brain performance and create new brains cells, also known as, neurogenesis. Tough workouts increase levels of a protein that is derived from the brain called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor or BDNF which improves decision making, thinking and learning.
Once I trained consistently, I have noticed my focus and learning both improving drastically in comparison to when I was studying in university. So let’s get physical to improve our quality of life!
More about our ladies….
Mariam, 22-year-old student that trains at Platform 5 times a week has become fiercely competitive in the past few months. I have noticed amazing improvements with her gymnastics skills and weightlifting. Maryam began her journey with CrossFit in 2015, but has only been consistent in 2017. “It’s a way to challenge my capabilities, I’m stronger and I have better awareness of how I move and eat,” said Mariam, “This is my first open and I have never felt so strong!”
Alanoud, 29-year-old mother of 3 trains 5 times a week started CrossFit in September 2017. Since starting her CrossFit journey her aches and pains in her lower back have completely disappeared! “I feel stronger, fitter, healthier and more aware of what I eat! CrossFit is also very addictive! You have so much support from the ladies and the coach” she said.
Amna, a 23-year-old Masters Student trains 4 times a week that started her CrossFit journey in November 2017. “Even though I have only started a couple of months ago, I’ve noticed my muscles develop quickly! CrossFit has helped me be more aware of my health and movement, it’s encouraged me to carry heavy things and improve my everyday function.” She says energetically, “It’s more supportive than anything else, rather than training alone in a gym, CrossFit has created a sense of a supportive fitness family”
Hind, a 30-year-old Mother of 2, spends most of her day on a desk, started CrossFit in 2013. “I love it and I wish I had more time to train and enjoy it more!” she said “It develops the self, mind, body and emotional health as well. It has improved my strength, endurance and overall fitness level. I have lost 15 kilos in 6-7 months of continuous training.” Hind developed a great sense of awareness with what CrossFit has taught her over the years. “I trained while pregnant and I also trained post-partum. Since I am more aware of what my body needs, I started back into training within 3 months after giving birth. I was able to carry my toddler and my baby around for hours because of my gained strength.”
Afra, 23-year-old has a full-time job but has never skipped more a week of training. She comes in Platform 4 times a week and started her journey in early 2016. “CrossFit to me means community, support, challenge and competitiveness. It helps you to quickly learn, challenge yourself and try new things. It has taken me out of my comfort zone, I am more confident, social, outgoing and physically stronger.” Says Afra, “It has changed my moods, improved my sleeping pattern and I spend my day looking forward to the class”
Hamda, a 20-year-old student has been doing sports from a young age. She started her CrossFit journey in early 2016 with her sister, Afra. “CrossFit is very challenging, it’s the best way to get out of your comfort zone, meet new people and socialize” she says, “It lowered me stress and anxiety by large as well!”
Shaikha works out 3-4 times a week despite her 9-hour desk job and busy schedule. This 25-year-old started her CrossFit mid 2014 and has been going strong since! “It is always a challenge! CrossFit has taken me out of my comfort zone, it’s physically challenging, destressing and confidence boosting!” she says, “It’s easily measurable, I remember not being able to do 5 wall balls in a row, and now I can go for more than 5’s in a workout like Karen! (150 wall balls for time) I feel better, fitter and more confident in the way I move.”