The 'fittest woman in the world' drops into Dubai

We talk to two-time CrossFit champion Annie Thorisdottir

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Are people still talking about CrossFit? Yes there are, it's still something. It might have hit an all-time high among fitness fanatics a couple of years ago, but the interest in the circuits-based functional training is trending again. 

Just as well then, that Dubai is to see the launch of the Emirate's first ever CrossFit Gold Box this week, located on Sheikh Zayed Road near Noor Islamic Metro Station. And even more exciting than that is they have a pretty special guest visiting Dubai to open the store. CrossFit superwoman Annie Thorisdottir, the only woman to ever win the world Crossfit Games twice (it's probably the hardest fitness championship in the world, that probably makes her the fittest woman in the world). 

She certainly knows a thing or two about being fit, she trains four hours a day, six days a week, not to mention she was a gymnast for eight years, a ballet dancer for two years and a pole vaulter for two-years too! If you love fitness, don't miss the chance to have her train you, in a one-off class she's taking. (Details at the end of article)

We caught up with the queen of Crossfit, to talk Dubai, fitness and the gender pay gap in sport...

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How are you finding Dubai?

This is my second time in Dubai. The first time I came here, it made such an amazing impression on me that I have been waiting for another opportunity to come here. I love this city, it’s so different from anywhere else I have visited, there are so many things to see and do, and the people are extremely welcoming.

Anything in particular that has stood out for you?

This trip, I got to swim with the dolphins at The Atlantis, you get to hug them, kiss them and they are so happy, so that made it so much fun.

What do you think of Dubai in terms of fitness?

I think that from two years ago when I was here last, to now, Dubai has changed a lot in functional training, people here are competitive and have the drive to want to do better, in that kind of environment fitness thrives.

What got you into CrossFit?

I have always been competitive and have been doing sports for as long as I can remember, I started doing gymnastics at 6-7 years old, when I quit that I was 15, I needed something to do. I was used to training 25 hours a week, so to go to nothing didn’t work for me. I tried ballet, pole vaulting, other different sports but I never found anything that caught my attention. So I started signing up for different competitions in Iceland and one of them was Crossfit, the first one I signed up for was in 2009 and I ended up winning it. I started to research Crossfit and realised I'd finally found a sport I really enjoyed, there are so many different things to work on and it keeps your attention. There really aren’t any sports for grown ups, this can keep you going in a real sports environment, instead of going to a regular gym and it’s easy to track success.

We’ve spent the day watching insane videos of you on Instagram - what’s your favourite exercise?

That’s so hard! I really enjoy the high-skilled gymnastics and olympic weight-lifting part of Crossfit as it is so technical and you need to focus. Weight lifting is 80 - 90% of my workout and something that I am pretty good at, because you need to focus on what you are doing while you’re tired and fatigued.

How would you talk someone into joining Crossfit?

I would tell them that it is fun (I think it is fun). It's perfect for people who have done sports before and perfect for people who haven’t, you don’t have to think that much about what you are doing because the coach will show you what to do and it’s easy to see your progress. You are going to see the results and the workouts will get easier, you will lose weight and get stronger. 

The Crossfit Games are one of the few events that pay male and female competitors the same prize fee. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap in many sports in general?

In Crossfit we are doing the same things as the males, we might not be doing it with the same weights, so it makes sense that we get paid the same as the guys, I think it would be extremely unfair if they were getting paid more for winning than the girls as it’s just as competitive on the male and female side. It is hard to say with other sports - I feel like it should be the same, we're both putting in the exact same work.

What are your thoughts on the backlash against the ‘be strong’ message, some people think it’s encouraging women to over exercise?

It is the same in all sports that you do, doing it at the competitive level that I do Crossfit at, is probably not healthy, maybe doing track and field at Olympic level is not healthy, but for people to do functional training, such as Crossfit, is really healthy and good for them. Not just males should be able to move around weights, females should be able to move around weights and also just know how to move their own body. 

And finally, what can people expect from the one-off class that you’re hosting? (Do you need to be a CrossFit regular to take part?)

I'm going to make sure everybody can do it, it’s going to show, that no matter what the workout is, it’s easy to scale it in a way that everybody can do it. For example, I train with my mum sometimes, even though we are both doing the same workout we might not be doing it the exact same way i.e. different weights. I am going to make sure everybody benefits from this class.

See Annie open CrossFit Gold Box on Wednesday (9 December) and take part in her one-off class at 5.30pm For more information or to register: (places are very limited) 

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