Ramadan is a time of discipline and self-control, and a month to slow down the pace of life – to focus on faith, family and charity. For professional CrossFit athlete Shaikha Al Qassimi, the test is also to maintain her fitness and nutrition programme.
“I love the downtime, the quiet and relaxed days, and active nights,” Al Qassimi says. “I would say my greatest challenge is to avoid all the delicious deep-fried and sugary delights.”
Al Qassimi’s career so far has had its share of challenges.
“I started in March 2013,” she says. “I watched videos of all these CrossFit women lifting crazy amounts of weight, fast and with great form, doing movements I had never seen or heard of before. I was eager to learn and do it, too. The toughest challenge was the fear of failure. I just needed to replace that with something positive to be able to reach my goals.”
In January, Al Qassimi became a Red Bull athlete, and is also an ambassador for Canadian brand Lululemon Athletica. “I have come a long way in my personal growth and physical performance,” she says. “My biggest achievement is the progress in my performance and my mental game during competitions.”
She draws inspiration from her social-media followers.
“My followers on Instagram and Snapchat motivate me every day and encourage me to keep going. My career is mainly to inspire them and they inspire me back by changing their lifestyles and telling me their stories,” she says.
But not everyone understands her sport or desire to succeed. “Socially, it was very hard when I first started – it still is at some points – having to explain why I spend so much time in the gym or why I train so hard or so much,” she says. “This is a passion, a dream. People will always question what they don’t understand.”
Al Qassimi’s positive mentality helps her through her toughest times, though. “I don’t let negativity affect me,” she says. “I solely focus on everything great and positive to keep me going.”
What album are you listening to at the moment?
Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams. I enjoy how beautifully orchestrated their music is. Coldplay are my favourite band of all time and their current album is very uplifting.
How do you unwind?
At the beach with friends or playing some video games at home.
What has been the best country you’ve visited so far?
Singapore. The sightseeing was great; it’s literally a city inside a forest. The food was delicious and the locals were the nicest.
What is your favourite film and why?
Southpaw – it was very inspirational.
Who inspires you and why?
Annie Thorisdottir, a professional CrossFit athlete from Iceland. She has been unstoppable from the start of her CrossFit journey.
Describe yourself in five words.
Humble, genuine, raw, strong and spontaneous.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Super strength. One of my favourite Marvel characters is Jessica Jones, and I would love to have super strength, to do what I do best and at the same time use that strength to fight crime.
What sport do you follow?
Weightlifting. I follow Mattie Rogers on Instagram (@mattiecakesssss). She is one of my favourite athletes of all time. She's incredibly inspirational and her personality is as strong as her lifts.
What’s your favourite cuisine?
Japanese fusion, so I love sushi. My favourite place to eat at is Atisuto in Galleria Mall or Mori Sushi in Downtown Dubai.
When you were growing up, what was your dream job?
A successful entrepreneur.
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