By SARA HENDAWY
Holding the title of Fittest Female in Malaysia was something Amira Ayob never dreamt of. On top of that, Amira is also the first Malaysian female to represent the country at the CrossFit Games 2019 held in August in Wisconsin, the US. The annual CrossFit Games is considered the Olympics of CrossFit.
“I finish 92nd among 141 athletes from all over the world, which was a personal win on so many levels. It’s my first time competing in anything this big and out of the country. I’ve never even imagined myself being an athlete before,” says Amira, who represented Malaysia alongside fellow Malaysian, Edmund Tan.
From Shah Alam, the former engineer was first introduced to the sport in 2014 during her second year of studies at Ohio State University.
“I started doing lots of fitness classes with my friends that semester and found myself wanting to do more. My friend brought up CrossFit and said I might enjoy it, so I signed up right away the following week,” says Amira, 28, who holds a degree in civil engineering.
“I didn’t even know what it was exactly but I was looking for a challenge. CrossFit has varied functional movements and that is what attracted me the most to it. It’s so different as you get a lot of exposure to different elements such as Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, mobility and more.
“Every day, there is always something new and it’s so refreshing,” she enthuses.
Amira highlights that there is no age or gender bias when it comes to the high-intensity fitness regimen. She trains four to five times a week inside the gym or through swimming and track sessions to maintain her fitness level.
“CrossFit is actually the least male-dominated sport around. It’s rare to have a sport where male and female athletes are equally celebrated. A female can beat a man in a workout anytime,” says Ayob, whose father, 52, also got involved in CrossFit two years ago because of her.
“As far as how old you are, you can always teach an old dog new tricks. Just like how my dad does CrossFit too. He’s just as good as anyone else in the gym. If you are fit, you are FIT,” adds the athlete, who stands at 155cm and weighs 54kg.
Amira also stresses the importance of having enough sleep as well as good nutrition to sustain her fitness level. “I always make sure I eat right and get enough sleep,” says Amira, who is a coach at a functional fitness gym in Subang.
“These two things get overlooked a lot, but honestly, when people ask what supplements I take to stay fit, I always ask them how many hours you sleep at night and how you are nourishing your body. You should not look for supplements if you cannot cover these two important things.”
She hopes that more women will take up CrossFitting and that people in general will see the benefits of staying healthy.
“I really hope people try to see fitness and health in a different way. It’s not just about how you look, it’s about your future,” stresses Amira, who has over 3,000 followers on Instagram.
“We have to start thinking about our health now so that when we’re 70 years old, we’re still able to do everyday activities like normal. Health is for everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender or age.”