Emirati teacher Mahra Al Shamsi opens RAK’s first OCR / Fitness facility

The inspiring story of Emirati Teacher who started RAK’s first OCR facility

When Mahra Al Shamsi did rope climbing for the first time in a Spartan race, she roared with happiness. “Everybody was looking at me thinking what is happening to her?”

To Al Shamsi, it was one of the greatest achievements because she could not rope climb in any of the races before that time… or at any point in her life. This was two years ago.

She recently launched her Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) facility in Ras Al Khaimah called Asylum. It is the first OCR fitness facility in RAK.

Mahra is an Emirati entrepreneur and a full-time English teacher for eleven years now. Fitness bug bit her when she was very young. “I’m a fitness enthusiast and have been into sports since childhood; I was on the swim team, softball team and the cross-country team. I play football in my free time and I run short distances too (3k, 5k, 10k),” Al Shamsi said while talking to Story of Fitness.

Being a professional endurance rider (horseback), Al Shamsi used to compete for Seeh Al Salah stables in 80km, 100km, and 120km events in her twenties.

Now, this 33-years-old Emirati teacher who also has a Masters of Science degree in Teaching and Learning is ready to inspire others to become a stronger and fitter version of themselves.

Al Shamsi did her first OCR race with Desert Warrior about six years ago and have been hooked since. “I don’t compete to be on the podium, but I compete to challenge myself, and I try to be better every time.”

For Asylum, Al Shamsi and team will be conducting 40% of their classes outdoors. “We’ll be taking advantage of RAK’s hotspot locations, beautiful scenery, and challenging terrain. The location-based classes are: QUEST, TREK & STADION. QUEST will be a GX on the beach every other Saturday. TREK will be on the same day every other Saturday of the month too, but involves trail running between the exhilarating mountains of RAK. STADION, as the name suggests, will be in one of RAK’s stadiums and will consist of bleacher runs, track running and field/ pitch strength work. It will essentially prepare the clients for Spartan Stadion races.”

They also have a specialized running class, strength classes for OCR obscatacles and movements, interval classes consisting of HIIT, Tabata, circuits, stretching classes and “CrossFit-ish” classes.

Why name the gym Asylum? “The name kinda just popped up in my head (maybe it’s got to do with my love for dark documentaries- especially crime/ mystery/ thriller genres). I was hesitant at first as many people would see that word as a negative connotation. But in fact if you really think about it, what an Asylum does, whether it is a mental hospital or a refuge camp, is that it shelters people and helps people out of their misery- WHATEVER their misery is. Similarly, fitness is a sanctuary and whatever the case or goal that our clients are looking for, we are their asylum. We harbor the competitive, the hesitant, the fit, or those who are looking to have fun and be part of an active community.”

The expats of RAK and other nearby Emirates are the main target participants for the gym, “Of course everyone else is welcome; of course locals too!” said Al Shamsi.

Why Ras Al Khaimah is currently the IT place for all things adventure and fitness?

Mahra Al Shamsi – What’s not to love about RAK? It’s simple people, exhilarating mountain ranges, beautiful beaches and stunning deserts… This city has so much potential to grow even further. Moreover, different OCR events have been seeing this potential in RAK and have used its natural terrains for that purpose.

I lived in Al Ain for the first 23 years of my life, but drove to RAK with the family every summer and winter holiday to stay in our summer house (which has now become our forever house!). I’ve witnessed the changes that this beautiful city went through… it has come a long way. I can definitely say that today, RAK has positioned itself successfully as an adventure and tourism destination in the UAE.

This article was originally published on NOVEMBER 9, 2020

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