Amal Baatia, a 40-year-old Saudi national who claims to be the kingdom’s first crossfit and calisthenics coach, is encouraging women in Saudi Arabia to engage in fitness activities and lead a healthier lifestyle.
Baatia works as a full-time investment manager and is a proud mother of two young boys. She says, “I have always been passionate about fitness and leading a healthy lifestyle since I was a little girl.” Baatia discovered her love for crossfit in 2014 when she signed up for a workshop in Dubai which she says was an amazing experience. She learnt more about it and after taking enough training she started training a small group of women in a small studio at her home.
Baatia says that she is determined to pursue a full-time career in fitness, “Besides my morning job, I started with a part-time job in the evening to follow my passion,” she says. Talking about what truly inspired her to take up crossfit, she says, “I started with my fitness journey with gymnastics when I was 8 years old,” and since then she has been constantly striving to maintain an active lifestyle.
Crossfit caught her attention since it is a high intensity fitness programme incorporating elements from several sports such as gymnastics, running and rowing which makes it a challenging sport. But Baatia is always willing to learn and practise more. “Besides the amount of strength that the person gains from practising it, makes you literally capable of doing anything in life,” she says.
At 40, Baatia’s goal is to deliver a message to all women that age should not be a limitation to achieve your dreams. She says, “Do what you love and success will follow.”
Talking about her journey so far, she says, “I am so blessed to be where I am today but I believe I have not reached most of my goals.” She adds that she has no plans of stopping till all her goals are accomplished.
The path of success is often filled with challenges and for Baatia the main challenge is to balance between her jobs and taking care of her two children and her home. But it has all worked out fine. “Giving crossfit training at midnight, I did not even have the time to look at my face in the mirror,” she jokingly mentions adding that it is of course exhausting to manage everything but with determination and consistency it is possible.
About the response that crossfit is getting from Saudi women she says, “Introducing the concept to women in my community was challenging considering the fact that it is not well known and involves a lot of high intensity workout.” But she is extremely happy that she was able to make the women get involved in it. “I have so many strong clients now that they could compete one day. Some of them even have become instructors.”
With the recent positive changes that Saudi Arabia has been experiencing, Baatia says, “I want to see the younger generation of women competing in different sports and use the chance and opportunities that I and others belonging to my generation could not have.” She’s hopeful that the change will happen soon.