Amal Murad is the first Emirati athlete to pursue a career in parkour, a sport that involves jumping, running and rolling, and reaching from point A to point B in the quickest and most efficient manner while overcoming obstacles.
Amal chose to break gender norms and pursue her passion for the uncommon sport that involves high-intensity body movements.
After graduating from the American University Sharjah, she worked as a graphic designer and an events manager for four years before deciding to call it quits to chase after her dreams.
“The jump from a graphic designer to a fitness coach happened as I wasn’t happy working in the corporate world. As a child, I enjoyed playing in the neighbourhood, climbing roofs and jumping from one place to another. It helped me break free from my shell, moulded my personality and helped me feel free. When my cousin, who runs a gym in Dubai, introduced me to the freestyle sport parkour, I wanted to get into it. I just wanted to get a control of my life and feel happy about it. This sport gave me that sense of freedom,” Amal told Khaleej Times.
Not only did Amal become a certified personal trainer specialised in parkour, she also got certification in calisthenics and pregnancy and postpartum athleticism. She became a movement specialist helping women love fitness no matter what phase of lives they are in.
“Excelling in the sport not only boosted my strength and endurance levels, it also shaped my personality as I gained immense self-confidence. Every day I had to push my physical limits and overcome my fears, perfect my skills that included balancing and movements. I realised this would benefit a lot of women out there and since there were no classes for women for this sport, I began to coach them,” the 28-year-old said.
Amal, who recently became a mother, teaches women to be fit, fearless and confident and encourages them to explore their physical and mental capabilities through various forms of fitness.
Amal said: “I loved the sport so much but we never had any training and classes for women here, so I decided I would take up the responsibility of teaching parkour to kids and women. And that was when I felt things change as I now had a purpose that I was passionate about. We always keep thinking of the destination and where we want to reach, but we forget to enjoy the process of getting there. I loved every bit of my struggle to get there.”
She admitted her journey wasn’t easy. “Cultural sensitivities, of course, do pose as an initial barrier as when a woman decides to pursue sports professionally, it isn’t seen as feminine. It’s hard for people to see someone choose this as a profession rather than a hobby. So when I took the plunge, it was hard for people to comprehend, but I was lucky as I had the support of my parents who saw me toiling to pursue my passion.”
Encouraging women to explore their potential, she added: “Don’t be afraid. It’s okay if you jump and fall. You have to get up and try again till you succeed. Be genuine, stay true to yourself and you are on the path to success. Every one of us has a talent and potential that is gifted to us by God. It is our job to explore ourselves and figure out what it is. This should be our ultimate goal – to give back to the community without forgetting that you also need to give back to yourself.”