It’s International Women’s Day and sport is on the agenda, as I do a roundup of 10 fitness females here in Dubai who live and breathe sport. I ask each of these ladies two questions: What does sport mean to you? and How does sport empower you? And this is what they had to say.

LAURA MCCONE

Sport for me, means being in the now. It connects me to the way my body moves, to my heartbeat, to the energy that surrounds me in the room. I hold no thoughts of the past or the future when I do sport – I find myself completely in the present moment and that is bliss!

Sport empowers me through showing me just how capable my body and my mind are. I’ve not always been the kindest to my body but it has always had my back and kept me going at times I thought I couldn’t. The morale, the endorphins, the wins, the losses, the teamwork, the sweat and tears that come with sport – they have all contributed to making me who I am today.

yoga in dubai
@laura_mccone

HALEY IRWIN

Sport to me is something that can’t be done alone (even solo sports require a strong support system.) A sport requires focus and strategy but ultimately brings out a sense of play in the person participating.

Sport creates a space where I can choose to be better than I was yesterday. It helps me activate a part of me that feels limitless.

women's sports dubai
@haleyherenow | Photo credit: Alisha Siegel @alishatova

DANAE MERCER

Sport pretty much means the world to me. It’s how I switch off, how I meet people, how I stop my mind from going and meditate. It’s a stress release and energy booster in one. And, well, it’s a big part of my job.

When I exercise, I feel strong, confident, powerful. I might only be lifting a 5kg weight – or let’s be honest, I’m often only lifting a 5kg weight. But it makes me feel tough, ready for anything. I also feel the prettiest when I’m exercising, even if I have sweat pouring down my face and my hair is nine types of crazy. There’s something undeniably empowering in working with my body to do something new or reach another goal.

women's fitness
@danaemercer

AMANDA RUSHFORTH

Sport to me is not just about keeping fit, it’s about focusing my mind. It’s a way to switch off and stay consciously connected, rather than digitally. It can clear your mind and helps bring those inner dolphins (endorphins) to the surface.

Sport empowers me by helping me to stay driven and set goals that are both achievable and fun! It’s about progress not obsession.

paddleboarding in dubai
@amandarushforth

GHIDA ARNAOUT

Sport means being strong. And by being strong, I feel confident.

I like to do more challenging sports and by challenging, I mean challenging myself, and setting personal goals.

Ghida Arnaout
@monkyseemonkydo

NIKKI MEYLER-ALLAM

Sport plays a pretty integral part in my life. My dad had a fairly long rugby career and as kids we were encouraged to take part in as many individual and team sports as possible. Sport helps build vital assets like social and team skills as well as developing key tactical and technical skills. When I started to rehab after my back surgery, I came back to sport. I remembered very quickly how much I loved being active and how vibrant it makes you feel. From the moment I stepped on my mat a few years ago, I fell in love with my yoga practice and my relationship with it continues to nurture every facet of my life.

Participating in sports as well as my yoga practice inspires me to be stronger and more confident – taking more responsibility for the way I live my life. I love this about my practice. In a more whimsical way, when playing with my Asana practice, I get to be a dancer, a gymnast and an acrobat. I am basically living the dreams I had when I was a little girl and that little girl gets to dance and tumble every day now.

dubai yoga
@thebelljaryoga

MANAL ROSTOM

Sport is a passion and a way of life. This is how you tell the world you are in control of your health first and foremost.

Sport empowers me by showing me I can when I think I can’t. More often than not we don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we are capable of.

Manal Rostom
@manirostom

NESA RASSOULI

I’m not sure I can really call it ‘sport’ anymore, it’s more just a way of life. It’s my job, my hobby and my passion. Fitness has been the axis that my world revolves around the last couple of years. It has shaped me as a person, taught me hard work, commitment, dedication, and most importantly that nothing worth having comes easy. It has also been the platform through which I’ve made lifelong friends; it’s connected me to like-minded people and given me bonds and friendships like I’ve never had before, by connecting me with people that have passion and a fire in their soul – and most importantly a hunger to achieve the same goals, and that is something money can never buy.

I think the simplest way to sum it up is that it gives me purpose. It’s what I wake up for, it’s what I teach, what I share with people, and it just makes me feel GOOD – giving yourself and people around you routine, big goals, little goals, and weekly milestones. It gives you confidence knowing you can run, jump, lift, cycle and do pretty much whatever life throws at you. How baddass is that?

Nesa Rassouli
@nesarassouli

NAJIA AL FADL

Sport is a way of self expression. It’s not just physical activity, it’s a means to keep sane, disciplined and developed in every aspect of life.

I strive to discover the limits of my capacity to accept, adapt and take on challenges. My mind and body when working together can be stronger than I can ever imagine, and to me that is empowering.

women calisthenics
@jiaalfadl

KAYLEIGH DAWSON

Sport means everything to me. It is a way of bringing everyone together no matter their age or background. You don’t even need to participate, you can simply spectate – so it’s accessible to all! It’s something you can do wherever and whenever and it will always bring a smile to your face.

Sport empowers me in many ways. Growing up I wasn’t the most intellectual in class, I was just average. Then in school during PE classes, the teacher realised I had a special talent. The confidence that sport gave me enabled me to work hard, to be committed and determined. It was a way for me to focus on something and achieve the unimaginable! By the age of 16 I had made my first GB appearance. From then on sport taught me that you can achieve whatever you need to work hard and be focused.

dubai sports
@fitnessbarbiedxb
***

I love it when people talk about their passions and you see their faces light up – and it’s the same thing here, because sport is the way that these women channel their energy, their strength, their drive – and in turn, their sport is what builds these qualities up. People are often surprised at just how transformative the effects of fitness can be – on health, on motivation, on overall happiness and contentment. And sure, it’s great to look good in a bikini, but fitness has the power to drive change – challenging your strength, building your confidence, and changing your outlook. So why not find your sport and see what it can do for you.

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