7 Ways CrossFitting in the Middle East is Different!
If you are new to the Middle East or to CrossFit you’ll want to know what to expect. If you want to I’ve lived in the Middle East- Amman, Jordan to be exact- for 5 years. Below I give you 7 ways CrossFitting here has been different. My hope is you can learn from my insights so you can enjoy your time in this amazing region as quickly as possible.
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.
We even created a healthy Restaurant and Grocery guide specific to Amman Jordan to help you get started. Sign up and we’ll send you the free download!
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. Get used to drinking throughout the day.
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. We have women’s only classes at our gym to cater to you if that’s what you want.
Don’t tread on me
There’s not much of a running culture here. There are only a few people out riding their bikes but the sport is growing. 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.
You can heck out our special Running Guide for Amman. We’ve got many details for you including Endurance events and the best places to train. We picked the top 8 places to run in Amman. Then given you a map of the routes, distances, running surface, where to park, and so much more!
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! Everyone who has spent more than 3 months regularly training in CrossFit find it impossible to return to the old gyms and their boring machines.
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!
If you are new to Amman, or just starting your journey in fitness in Amman, you should check out our 5 Fitness Tips for moving to Amman. We can help make your transition smooth!
Comment below on other ways you’ve found it different if you’ve done CrossFit in other countries!
If you’re ready to give CrossFit a try- call us at 079 722 8865 or Visit our Programs Page