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Scaling the heights
by Manjula Ramakrishnan November 03, 2017
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Hanady Alhashmi is an Emirati professional mountaineer from Abu Dhabi, who has scaled four out of the seven major summits from across seven continents of the world. When asked what are the most important items to carry on these treks she quips, “Take along a fit body and mind!’’

The adrenaline of reaching heights and being amongst the pristine, tranquil clouded peaks of mountains drove her to follow her dreams and today she has successfully climbed over 10 mountains around the globe.

In June 2017, she became the first Emirati woman to successfully reach the top of North America’s highest mountain — Denali, located in Alaska, USA, standing at a whopping 6,190 metres.

Hanady says, “You will have to go through the enticing combination of struggle mixed with enjoyment and excitement and reach the summit, one determined step at a time.’’

In line with the Fitness Challenge initiated by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai Government and Dubai Sports Council, Dubai aims to become one of the fittest cities in the world. Towards this end several exciting activities are being organised, but as the very first measure, awareness about staying fit has to be created. 

As Hanady looks forward to scaling all seven summits some day in the not-too-distant future, she wants to place her country on the global map of mountaineering. She would also like to motivate women and children everywhere to take up active sports and work towards some achievement, big or small to do with sport and   fitness.

“I think as a sportsperson, it is the responsibility of fitness enthusiasts like me to help more people in our nation become fit. As representatives of our sport, we should work together to achieve this feat.’’

Hanady shuffles her time between a daytime job and her own carefully planned rigorous training regimen, twice a day, both mornings and evenings. “I do not miss a single workout. I tend to mix a lot of things to keep the interest alive and tedium at bay, depending on my timings and schedule.’’

As a mountaineer, Hanady undergoes a stricter fitness regimen, which involves multiple workouts such as stair training, climbing, hiking, cycling, body weight training, running and so on, some of which might not be common to others with a general fitness routine.

“Fitness today is everyone’s prerogative and not subject to gender bias. Gone are the times when hardcore fitness regimes would be simply for men. Today more women in the world are stepping up their game with challenging fitness routines.’’

Her one lament though is that women in the UAE are still lagging in terms of working out. “Women tend to have a lot of additional responsibilities — homes, children, their own careers, so they choose to neglect their health. On the contrary, I feel fitness and a proper exercise routine is a greater necessity for women for they are under stress; and any physical activity will help beat anxiety and other stress related symptoms. I hope to start a nation-wide programme someday which will encourage more women in this country to come forward and test their limits, physically and mentally.’’

For Hanady, her mountaineering played an important role in shaping her wholesome fitness — both mental and physical. “When I took up the sport, it was pretty tough. The exercise routines were energy sapping, but the positive effect was how strong it made me mentally. Sports helps in not just reducing stress, but gives you greater confidence in going about your daily tasks, meeting people, decision making and in short assists you in taking charge of your own lives.’’

And as the mountains with its grandiose peaks continue to beckon her and there are more summits to scale, Hanady believes women need to be more aware of what is happening to their bodies over the years. “There needs to be a consciousness about one’s own body and its inevitable changes; a nutritious diet is not just an option, but a way of life. More runs, more yoga and meditation will for sure add spice to life. After all women are the building blocks of our society and the backbone of their families. It is important they assume a larger role in maintaining the entire family’s fitness.

“Mountains and peaks epitomise and challenge the limits which one can push themselves to achieve any goal — seen or unseen — and this is what draws me to its regal peaks.’’

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