The inspiring Emirati athlete talks about parkour, positivity and passion
UAE national Amal Murad is a woman who’s scaling new heights in the sports world as an accomplished parkour athlete. After taking her first class less than four years ago, certified instructor Amal now focuses her efforts on helping others find their passion and kick-start their own fitness journey.
The first step
I was always athletic. As a child, I’d play around by climbing over walls, but also did a lot of sports such as basketball and volleyball. Then I grew older, graduated and got a full-time job, but somewhere along the line I realised there was never time to do what I wanted. I lost that athletic part of myself, but I also felt I wasn’t growing as an individual. The corporate life wasn’t for me, so I got back to my roots as an athlete.
“I felt the carefree and fearless side of me, from my childhood, come back”
Fitness played a huge role in my self-realisation journey. The turning point came when my cousin, Yousuf Al Gurg, opened Gravity Calisthenics Gym in Al Quoz, which offered parkour classes. I took my first class two and a half years ago but I was the only woman there, and all the other students were also much younger. The teenage boys in the class were so good, and what took them two days to master took me two months.
“Our generation used to run barefoot in the heat. We experienced the ‘real’ parkour environment, except it wasn’t called parkour back then, it was just being a child”
Parkour is such a free sport. Gymnastics, for example, has specific rules and it’s so disciplined, but with parkour you can express yourself in the way that you want. There’s no wrong way of going through an obstacle path. For me, the most important time in a workout is the moment when you think you can’t do it, because that’s when you have to decide to push through.
“When you’re happy and you make others happy, that’s real success to me”
When I began teaching the sport two years ago, it changed my approach because I was no longer learning as a student, but as a teacher. There’s a difference between being an athlete and a coach. When you’re an athlete you want to be the best but when you’re teaching someone, you want them to be better than you. I have people coming up to me and talking about my journey, which is the reason I do what I do.
Amal’s top tips:
Find your passion
If you’re not growing as an individual, it’s time for a change