Parkour is “the activity or sport of moving rapidly through an area, typically in an urban environment, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing.”
Amal Murad spent her childhood barefoot, jumping up walls, climbing trees and running around outdoors. She didn’t realise at the time that she was in training to become the first female Emirati to coach and compete in parkour. After university, Amal got a design job that had her sitting at a desk for twelve hours a day. In her mid-twenties she started to attend a local parkour group run by her cousin – she was one of the oldest members and the only woman there.
Amal went on to become heavily involved in parkour, eventually giving up her steady government job and associated benefits for this passion. She is sponsored by Nike and now trains and runs parkour groups for local women in Dubai.
We talked about the opposition Amal faced when she gave up her stable job for parkour, and how challenging it has been to strike a balance between personal interest and societal expectations. We spoke about stereotypes in Arabic society with respect to marriage, work and hobbies. Amal recounts that while her father has been her biggest ally, others around were highly vocal that her unusual hobby would result in no man wanting to marry her. We discussed how social media has its own idealistic pressures and how she deals with cyber-bullying. We talked about how a major injury helped her become a better coach as well as a better partner. And finally, Amal, who is seven months pregnant, gives listeners some tips and advice for exercising while pregnant.
You can find Amal (aka Leap of Hope) on her instagram page.