Amal Murad, the first Emirati female parkour athlete on challenging convention in a traditionally male-dominated sport.
What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
Nothing glamorous. I know there are many “success gurus” on social media who claim that the first 30 minutes of your day dictate the rest of the day, but I’m a mom now. My daughter wakes up pretty early, between 5:30am to 6:30 am, so my mornings can be chaotic.
How did you discover your passion for practicing Parkour and how challenging was it to start?
It was by accident. I wanted to get back to sports after becoming a full-time graphic designer. When you’re a graphic designer, you spend 90 percent of your time behind a computer, so that destroyed the athletic side of me during adulthood. That’s why I decided to pursue something new and that was parkour at the time. My cousin owns gravity calisthenics gym, which is the first gym in the region to provide indoor parkour classes so that really sparked my interest. The rest is history. The challenging part of it all is that it’s a new sport and I was literally the oldest in class as well as the only woman. A lot of people tried to convince me to choose conventional gymnastics but it didn’t excite me the way parkour did.
You challenge the status quo in your industry, how do people respond to you within the community and have you had to push past any barriers?
People will always not agree with what they are not familiar with. It was up to me to slowly educate people and introduce them to a sport that most of them might have never heard of. When I first started, there weren’t any Emirati female personal trainers who did this full time so that in itself was quite a journey. You start paving the way for those who come after,so that’s why it’s extremely important that you find innovative ways to share content and to spread your message to your audience. It was never about being a rebel or being the first to do something, it came from a passion. It really was about sharing knowledge and showing people why you’re so passionate about what you do.
You’re an ambassador for Nike. How do you embody their ‘Just Do it’ approach to life?
I think with parkour, you have no choice but to commit to your decisions. You can’t make a jump and change your mind midway. You have to stick by what you decided the whole way, or you’ll fall. The same goes with my life, I decided to be more confident in whatever I choose and not give up so easily when things don’t quite work out the way you expect them to. That’s what entrepreneurship teaches you, to take risks but to also be resilient.
What does a typical training routine include?
Parkour is the by-product of my training, not the other way around. As you may know, parkour is a very fast and high-impact sport that needs precision and control. That’s why it’s important to have my basics drilled down. Strength and resistance training will always be my go-to routine including squats, lunges, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, and the list goes on. The goal is to have a strong and mobile body that is able to withstand load no matter what age you reach. Once you practice these and build a strong foundation, that’s when you start introducing more dynamic movements and sports such as parkour.
What’s your advice for Arab women who wish to enter the world of parkour?
Don’t be intimidated. What you see online from most athletes is literally years of hard work. So, enjoy the process and build yourself from the ground up. It’s not about the big jumps but about how much stronger mentally you’ll become by understanding how to gradually overcome fear day by day.
You’re a mother, coach and an athlete. How do you balance all three roles?
You don’t – there’s always an element of compromise. You’ll have days where you have to deprioritize important projects and focus on family. Other days, you’ll end up missing important milestones in your daughter’s life because you have an important work event. Accepting that you’re doing the best you can is the greatest advice I can give.
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Do you think social media plays an important role in empowering women? If so, how?
Yes. You’d be surprised how many people have shaped how I think online. It’s a great place to collaborate but also be a part of spaces that you don’t necessarily agree with. I think always being around the same people that always agree with you can somewhat stunt your growth. Knowing you’re part of a bigger world is exciting and there’s so much to learn from other cultures and perspectives. It’s beautiful because you start realizing you’re not alone in your struggles and that you can get so much support even from a complete stranger.
Tell us about Leap of Hope and how it all began?
Taking a leap of faith is an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome cannot be proved or known. Ironically, that’s exactly what I did. I took a leap when I decided to quit my job to pursue personal training full-time. My name, however, is Amal which means hope so I changed leap of faith to leap of hope. It’s a pun on words because I also “leap” for a living since I practice parkour.
This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – who according to you is going against the grain in their field and achieving something great?
I think any woman who decides to pursue a career that’s not conventional is going against the grain. We’re opening doors for the future generation so that they’ll have the opportunity to choose from a variety of career choices without the fear of judgment.
October’s – ‘The Renegade Issue’ – Download Now
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