During my search for another Everyday Athlete, I came across a girl having the time of her life. I thought: ‘I need to see what she’s all about’ and do not regret it. In this installment of the Everyday Athlete, we have a closer look at a Central American CrossFit and Wellness coach, whose ambition, drive and dynamism has assisted countless people around the country. Ladies and Gents, from the iron house of CrossFit Alioth I bring you: Misha Ramirez.
Misha Ramirez is from the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Having never left the American continent, she was offered the chance to work in the Middle East almost 4.5 years ago. The Costa Rican’s current spiritual home in the Emirates is CrossFit Alioth, where she spends most of her days’ training and just hanging out. Every aspect of her life has changed based on that decision to move continents.
‘I’m a graduate and have an engineering degree in Biotech but here I am, working in the fitness industry! I’ve always been the traditional skinny girl but I didn’t like the gym, it was so boring. [It all changed] 4.5 years ago when the first CrossFit gym opened up in Costa Rica and I decided to go there for fun because I had some free time. The owner tried to convince me that CrossFit would be fun and if I was still training there in 4 months, I would have to start paying the membership fees from then on; it’s then that I fell in love with CrossFit. It was a different approach to training but nonetheless it worked [out].’
I guess we owe the owner of the gym a big thank you for pushing Misha towards CrossFit, if it weren’t for the coach, I wouldn’t be having this conversation with her! Thanks coach!
‘One year later, after a good amount of experience with CrossFit, another gym opened up and they offered to pay for my level 1 coaching in CrossFit. I never wanted to be a coach but I took it anyway because you never know what you’ll do later on. I gained my certification and 6 months later I got an email from a gym in Dubai to start the first female CrossFit classes in 2013. It was on a 6 month probation and trial because we’re not sure if it would be successful with the girls. The gym wanted to make it work, by offering classes late night only for the girls so it was a risk. For me it was a 6 month experience and holiday where I could [experience] a new culture, place and country that I wouldn’t have gone to if it wasn’t for that job. After the first 6 months were over, I fell in love with every aspect of the place and extended my contract.’
One decision, one moment, changes everything. Misha took a massive risk coming to Dubai and the Middle East even though she didn’t have the faintest idea about her home-to be. She could have easily stayed in the safe confines of Costa Rica, in the comfort of her own family, friends and culture but she ventured out into the wild and experienced a whole other side of life. It’s a reflection of Misha’s personality and how situations change in an instant.
‘1 year later, another gym realized the female CrossFit potential and decided to open up their own gym called Crossfit Metalize. I moved there because of their female dedicated CrossFit facility [they planned to open] and I signed for 2 years. I saw a lot of local girls training and enjoying themselves which made my decision even easier. I saw a lot of these [local] girls grow while they used to hate the gym, just like me and turn into people who train 5 times a week and have grown so much over my time there.
After the end of my contract I decided to leave Metalize. I wanted to break away and take time to reflect. Since I moved here I realized that fitness was a new concept in the Middle East and it has to be modified a little bit to get the attention of the local ladies who were not completely buying into the concept yet. Social media presents this stereotypical image of big girls with muscles concept that scares a lot of girls who don’t want to look like that.’
So what does she do to solve this?
Start a project called: Metcons With Misha of course.
Metcons With Misha
Metabolic Condition – MetCon for short in CrossFit. The idea is to burn calories and accelerate heart rate.
‘I love weights but I know I can’t lift as heavy as the games athletes because I do not have the bone structure or strength. My goal was to convince these girls that they can work with weights without having to become the images they see online that they hate. The idea was to reach out to girls who had either not started or who didn’t really get into training. Bring family and friends together and enjoy working out. Together they evolve and together see progress. It’s to get them into a routine.
I thankfully have lots of girls who want Personal Training. I decided that I would just go to them because right now there aren’t too many options for train. Most of the gyms are mixed or are only available early morning or late nights which makes it very inconvenient. I’m on my own and have been coaching girls who have been with me for a long time. I don’t do pure CrossFit but I don’t do regular training either because I don’t work with machines. Some girls have everything a CrossFit gym would have but some only have the basic equipment. I want to see progress in people and enjoy helping these girls make a positive change in their lives.’
‘I have a small group where I train at Train SF in the private rooms because there was nowhere else with the CrossFit facilities. Right now it’s a little bit rough because its crowded and it’s the only place that’s friendly to rent but it’s still a global gym, which has machines so its not CrossFit specialized. Girls still follow me and contact me from CrossFit Metalize and ask if they can train with me or I’m [available] for coaching.’
Misha is really trying to combine culture and a need for personal training to eradicate a bigger issue of image and sterotypes. By bringing people together in one place to educate, persist and show these ladies that progress is possible without making it a chore but rather a lifestyle change. Giving them the flexibility by training them at their own houses, Misha is quite literally running to where she’s needed!
‘I [advocate] loving your body, with no set target in mind. I want you to enjoy your meals and if you lose weight then great but you first have to be a healthy person. It’s not about just being skinny and especially girls have this mentality of just losing weight no matter how.’
This continued with us talking about different perspectives of success. The community should be focused on themselves and be meticulous with the small details. Take inspiration from their role models, emulate their attitude and ethos but if that isn’t something they can relate to then turn to those, that are closer to home: influencers, inspirers and heroes like Misha, Kirsteen Thain, Yousef Al Gurg, Kiki (Shaikha Al Qassemi) and Leon Basha. All these names are different but they all have one common trait for their success; Hard-work and big dreams.
I assure you there are people out there who look up to them and have helped them because of their successes and the struggles they’ve gone through. They would have lost countless mental battles, they would have fallen down but they fought back to motivate and inspire themselves to carry on and continue the journey. They win because they always moved forward. People need to relish the small victories and realise how important it is for them to relish these changes not just in fitness but life.
‘We want people to understand and realize the importance of fitness. You made a change in your life by taking the first step because you know the importance fitness brings to your well-being. As a community, it’s our collective responsibility to make people understand the importance and if these influencers can point individuals to a more suited trainer or coach then I believe we can really start to see a change in attitude. People need to appreciate the small victories and not [directly] compare themselves with the person they were yesterday.’
Just a fun 2:30 hours session for today! In honour to my favorite craziest coach ever @justin.ahrens I decided to workout for more than just an hour today! Some fun fitness with all this amazing people in here 👆🏼… #cleanAndJerks #skierg #AssultBike #snatches #toesToBar and many many more . 😊 #likeTheOldDays #50MinWod #missYouJussy
A great example of this would be the relationship between Kirsteen and Misha. They possess a tight-knit friendship that has blossomed and overlapped across their personal and professional lives as she elaborates further:
‘When Kirsteen first came to Dubai I helped her get some people to train. We loved that we were both skinny strong. After a few conversations we just clicked. We trained together and eventually went onto competing at regionals, once with the Metallize team and once on my own. We are out of competition now but still enjoy the training.
I just love what Kirsteen and Salma have started and if I can’t train someone, I immediately refer people to them and Get Fit Chick. The message that they and I want to bring across is for girls to focus on themselves, almost be selfish about it. One day you couldn’t do a lunge and today you can do lunges with weights.’
Bona Fide Intentions
‘Eventually I will go back home in 5-10 years from now. I want to do two projects. One of them is to open up a female’s only gym back home. I want to use all the knowledge I gained here and put it to use there. I want to target all the grandmothers and mothers in their 40-60s who have no real knowledge on fitness so they can have a longer and better life to play with their grand kids. I want to do it without the aggressive approach the global gyms have and keep it real.
My second project is to run a full sized gym for free. [I want to open] a charity gym for teenagers and kids, moving them away from [big problem of] drugs and violence and focus their energy on something productive. Just try to help develop the community with the power and [effectiveness] CrossFit that brings.
I’d love to open a female’s CrossFit gym here in Dubai with private rooms for all the girls in Dubai and have the CrossFit atmosphere without calling it one. I want to create a supportive environment where everyone can ask questions and not be worried about judgement. I know everyone in Dubai is in a rush but for girls it’s easier because they finish work earlier and have a lot more spare time. I want to make it social, where girls can share recipes and motivate each other.’
Exceptional. The work she wants to do for the community is absolutely fantastic and thoughtful. It’s a valiant effort from a hard-working individual who really wants to give back to her home and current residence. In between her busy schedule, she spares time for her dog. Recently engaged and will be tying the knot in Costa Rica soon.
On that delightful note, we ended the fascinating conversation. Misha is someone who has so much more to give and wants to keep learning and perfecting her craft. She started attending classes at CrossFit Alioth every day at 1 pm to gain knowledge from other incredible coaches and incorporate bits and pieces in her own teaching style. It’s been an incredibly amazing journey finding individuals, hidden gems, and uncover their remarkable stories.
Metcons with Misha: http://www.metconswithmisha.com/