Tuesday, January 19, 2021

First CrossFit gym in Ramallah puts Palestine on the map

Juicebox Gallery

By Henry James - March 14, 2018
Section: [Main News] [IN PICTURES]
Tags: [sport] [fitness]

CrossFit was founded in 2000. It is a strength and conditioning program created in the United States. Today it has more than 13,000 affiliate gyms around the world.

Palfit in Ramallah is one of them, it is also the first and only one in the West Bank. The gym opened in 2014 by Basel Qatamesh; a 29 year old Palestinian athlete with a BA in Sports Education from the University of Jordan and a MSc in Sports Therapy from Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom.
Qatamesh was introduced to CrossFit by coincidence. He was looking for high intensity training, found CrossFit and started practicing it. He passed the Level 1 Certificate - CrossFit coaching certificate - and started coaching in the UK.
“A CrossFit box is a place to help you get rid of negative energy in a very positive way. It is also a place where all people from different backgrounds can gather for the same cause, a healthy lifestyle,” Qatamesh told Palestine Monitor.
Qatamesh believes the Israeli occupation is affecting the sport on two levels. Due to the occupation, athletes from around the world cannot visit the athletes at Palfit easily, leaving them isolated. Local athletes would benefit greatly from competing with internationals.
Secondly, there is the economic issue. Importing CrossFit equipment is very expensive and complicated. Importing directly to the Palestinian Territories without Israeli permissions is not possible.
But Qatamesh’s hopes are strong. He wants to create a community for the kids he is training as a platform that increases the potential of creating professional athletes.
Women in CrossFit are not something rare, in his box Qatamesh counts 40% of women members registered as well as women coaches. Here, they deal with their athletes regardless of their gender. All people in the box are encouraged equally and no one has a special treatment.
CrossFit could eventually bring recognition to the Palestinian athlete. “When we applied for affiliation in 2015, they did not have Palestine on the CrossFit Map, now it is there and recognised very well by many of the CrossFit Leading staff and athletes,” Qatamesh explained.
The difference between his gym and other regular gyms in Palestine is clear; there is nothing fancy or materialistic about the space. It is a place which encourages people to follow a healthy lifestyle and to be part of a community that empowers team spirit, mutual respect and solidarity.
“I believe our coaching and programming vision is based on a true athletic performance methodology. Our program is not random nor commercial and that’s how we differ and [distinguish ourselves],” Qatamesh added.
By providing a professional coaching service, Qatamesh wants to make his gym a safe environment for everyone training there.

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