7 Ways CrossFitting in the Middle East is Different!
I’ve only lived in the Middle East- Amman, Jordan to be exact- for 20 months. I’m still learning some of the differences between being a CrossFitter here compared to the US. Below I give you 7 ways CrossFitting here has been different.
- Mansif, Kebsa, and Muglube- oh MY!- The food here is pretty amazing! My wife and I have no complaints whatsoever about the quality of food here! We’ve learned Jordanians take their food seriously. Mansif is the national meal like Turkey for Thanksgiving in America! The problem is that the food here is VERY high in carbs- their staple foods through the week is bread and rice. Trying to help our athletes realize the long-term damage that comes from such a carb heavy diet takes time and persuasion. Globally, we are losing the fight against obesity, with the Middle East being the worst region in the world. The diabetes research is equally scary.
- Camels Devour it- because the air is so dry here, our bodies sweat without us even knowing it. The need to keep drinking water throughout the day is high- but there is not a culture of lugging a water bottle around all day. They’d prefer tea and coffee if they get hungry (often with lots of sugar added). Additionally, only bottled or filtered water gives you confidence you won’t get sick.
- The Great Divide- We were open only two months when we opened our women’s only class. We’ve had quite a few people ask when we would start such a class. This last week, we had our first person ask for an all male class even! Everyone’s reasons for wanting such a class are different- but figuring out how to meet our members where they are at is a constant process. It is so cool that CrossFit just had their first women’s only Level 1 Certification.
- Don’t tread on me- There’s not much of a running culture here. (There are zero people out riding their bikes if you wondered that too). Though the Dead 2 Red race has gained international popularity and there’s now an Amman Marathon, people still don’t run outside much. One of the major reasons is finding a safe place to run (I should talk about how crazy the traffic and drivers are over here, but I might offend people!). There are precious few green spaces in this city of 5ish million.
- Family- the family bond here is much stronger than any bond in the USA. Then again, the size of families here dwarf a family in the US. One of my good Jordanian friends has over 150 cousins! I mean first cousins only- in the US you’d have to go to 5th cousins to get to 150! And this friend is not an anomaly, most people have that many cousins. This just means the community aspect at our box has a different feel. Generally, people in the US don’t get to experience deep and broad relationships like this. Here, relationships are everything. They have deep hearts and capacity to love others!
- No box for the Box- When people walk into our box they ask me “Is this a gym for body building OR fitness?” It never occurred to them that someone could both be muscular AND have good fitness! They also don’t understand how we could operate without all the machines they are used to seeing! This is fun to explain what CrossFit is and how we know it will change their lives!
- Try, try again- Our motto is “Intensity with Humility” because we want to champion people who give great efforts and aren’t afraid to lay it all on the line. There is a very low rate of entrepreneurship in this culture- and research finds its because people are afraid to fail. They view failure as a great threat to their individual and thus family honor. Such fear can only be overcome by figuring out where true honor comes from. When we exceed our limits and continue to grow, we gain the confidence needed to continue to do hard things in other areas of our lives.
My family and I look forward to many more years here in Amman- and learning many more things about the Middle Eastern culture. We have so many people to thank for all that we have learned!
Comment below on other ways you’ve found it different if you’ve done CrossFit in other countries!
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