Marathon Man Marcus Smith on facing a setback due to Covid

marcus smith

After permanently closing his gym at Al Quoz to pay his team’s salaries during the lock-down, Marcus Smith is excited for InnerFight’s new home at Studio City.

Coronavirus has badly hit the fitness industry across the world. More than 5 gyms in Dubai have permanently ceased operations, reports Arabian Business. After two months of lockdown, Dubai government recently started reopening of most institutions including gyms at varying limited capacities. However, medium, small and micro enterprises were worst hits during the lock-down. Gyms like Crossfit Goldbox Dubai, Flywheel Dubai, Cult. fit, Engine Health and Fitness, Tribe Fit, Dubai Marina, and Rebel DXB announced their shut down.

 In times like this, it was uplifting to hear about the opening of a new premium fitness club. Dubai based extreme athlete, Marcus Smith, is ready to open a new gym in Studio City. Marcus is famous for completing 30 marathons in 30 days. But opening a new gym during the pandemic was not a smooth ride.

marcus smith

 Finding resilience during uncertainty

During the lockdown, Marathon man Marcus Smith had to permanently close the Al Quoz location of his gym Innerfight in April. He had to make the difficult decision to end their lease agreement early and move out of the gym to pay his team’s salaries.

 But now he is more than excited for InnerFight’s new home which has 7,000 sqft state-of-the-art facility featuring two gyms floors, and a yoga studio. They are also opening a brand new cafe that will serve Paleo treats. “Our mission is to help people get better at life. So we are moving our gym to a different community which will allow us to reach more people with our message. Fitness should be accessible so we are moving from a more industrial area to a residential area. This will make it easier for people to visit and become better at life,” said Marcus while talking to Story of Fitness.

marcus smith prince hamdan

Work was ON during lockdown

Even during the lockdown, Marcus and his team developed online workouts for their clients. “We also scheduled daily calls with them to chat about the workouts and about how they are feeling. We also had several weekly zoom chats that people could join to share, listen, talk, and learn. This brought people together. It gave everyone the human connection and energy that we were used to getting daily at InnerFight.”

 Marcus, who is one of UAE’s most respected extreme athletes, played professional rugby from the age of 18. He retired after the 2009 Rugby Sevens World Cup. He then spent 10 years working in the sporting goods industry. Following which he found InnerFight. Marcus says that one should expect community, energy, passion, simplicity, hard work, fun, and fitness out of his new gym. “From a pure fitness standpoint, we have more than a dozen classes a day, personal training, endurance training, yoga, family fitness, teens fitness, mums fitness, and more. There is plenty for everyone. We are also opening our first Smith St Cafe. There will also be a place to relax, refuel and hang out with like-minded people,” he adds. Smith and his wife Holly own Smith St Paleo which is predominantly prepared food delivery

What’s next for the marathon man Marcus Smith?

 With a stellar legacy of running 30 marathons in 30 days, 24 hours running on 400 m track, and more. What’s next for Marcus? “Haaaaaa. I love this…..stay tuned there is something really big cooking which may unfold sooner than anyone expects! And then I will focus my energy on the World Champions of multistage ultra running which I have qualified for in 2021. Epic times ahead!”

 The fitness industry has completely changed during the ongoing pandemic. People are reluctant to integrate back into society, and particularly at places like gym. But Marcus feels that fitness impacts peoples’ health positively. “Every day things gets better but the impact is huge. Businesses have seen massive revenue drops. It is disappointing that the fitness industry, which positively impacts peoples’ health, was not one of the first sectors allowed to open globally. Fitness is an essential good and service. And until it is given that respect we will continue to have catastrophic health issues and the unnecessary loss of life through curable disease.”

 Are we all done with CrossFit?

Gyms around the world are cutting ties with the CrossFit brand after its founder made comments they found insensitive following the death of George Floyd. What does Marcus think? Are we all done with CrossFit? “That’s a million-dollar question right now! InnerFight has been a CrossFit affiliate for 8 years. But in recent years we have seen a drop in value in this partnership. Coupled with recent events, we have made the decision not to take the relationship forward. CrossFit has saved many lives. It provided a livelihood for many people. I hope that is what it is remembered for.”


 On equal representation at InnerFight

 With recent conversations about Black Lives Matters, we asked Marcus about equal representation at InnerFight. He said, “We are a community-based fitness business with staff representing over 7 countries. We have members from over 20, kids aged 3 years old to adults aged 75. I would say we are pretty inclusive. There is only one thing I ask people to bring to InnerFight which is a smile. If you come with a smile, then you are more than welcome. If you do not, my team will make sure you leave with one.”

Some of Smith’s most notable achievements to date include:

  • Running 30 marathons in 30 days, just 9 months after being hit by a truck. (This is the reason why Marcus Smith is famously known as Marathon Man)
  • Running around a track for 24 hours straight, racking up 206.9km.
  • Completing a triple ascent of Mont Ventoux, the Tour De France’s hardest climb;
  • Running Marathon Des Sables, a 250km self-supported run across the Sahara desert, which is widely regarded as the world’s toughest footrace.


Do you think it will be taking a long for people to be able to come back to the gym?

 This is all down to communication and peoples’ confidence. As a population, we need to stop advertising so heavily about precautions and sanitization and things of a negative nature. We must focus on health and fitness for the longevity of the human race. A huge engine for this is the fitness industry and gyms being open and serving people.

Interested in becoming a member? InnerFight is offering an exclusive “Summer Package” for AED 4,200 which includes:

3 months of unlimited access to all fitness classes

6 exclusive seminars covering Nutrition, Goal-Setting, Heat Training, Running, Family Fitness and Endurance Sports

A monthly Body Analysis and consultation with a coach

20% off InnerFight apparel

10% off Smith St Paleo monthly meal plan

Class packages are available from AED595. With Covid-19 regulations in place, InnerFight will be implementing increased sanitization. It also includes a 10-minute buffer between classes to effectively disinfect shared spaces.

We provide free content, as we love all things fitness and wellness. But if you like this story, feel free to buy us a coffee HERE

This article was originally published on JUNE 15, 2020

Also read, The racing season is back in the UAE. Here’s the new normal

Meet the Athletes who represented the UAE for the world’s toughest race: Eco-Challenge Fiji

Ultra-marathon champion Gerda Steyn uses her time under lock-down for indoor training

3 thoughts on “Marathon Man Marcus Smith on facing a setback due to Covid

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *