Culture Divide

By Kulsoom Abdullah

In CrossFit, HD Videos, Olympic Lifts

February 03, 2012

Video Article

When Kulsoom Abdullah found CrossFit Atlanta several years ago, it was her desire to learn the Olympic lifts that brought her there.

“I had the drive. I really wanted to learn lifting, and I really wanted to go do it,” she says.

She either ignored the stares or tried to be assertive and talk to people. But not all women are like that, notes Abdullah, who last year became the first woman to lift in sanctioned U.S. Olympic-weightlifting competitions while wearing traditional Muslim dress covering the head, arms and legs.

That’s why it’s important to reach out and be encouraging to women of all cultural and religious backgrounds, she says.

“Maybe go out to communities and try to encourage them to do it because a lot of times … they just don’t have that initial motivation or encouragement, and I think that would definitely … help the CrossFit sport to grow.”

In general, it’s always going to be intimidating for women to walk into a gym “because when they see the workouts and they see what people do, they still don’t think that it’s something that they can do,” Abdullah says. “It’s always hard for me to convince even women that I know personally to go and do this kind of stuff.”


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Additional reading: Girls Ride Horses, Too by Bill Starr, published March 1, 2011.

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5 Comments on “Culture Divide”


wrote …

I really enjoyed your interview. Congratulations on achieving your goals. You've demonstrated a good lesson on patience and persistence. You have the heart of a champion. I very much like your analogy of the Olympics with regard to sport bringing people together. I think Crossfit has an even greater potential for this because people aren't just watching it on tv or reading about it but they're side by side working together. Best wishes for the future.


wrote …

@ Michael Watson: Do you really think a Muslim US citizen doing Crossfit needs to "learn from our accepting ways"?
Your post on the other hand seems more condescending than accepting. You may have lost loved ones in the recent wars, but don´t let your your heart harden up or it will resemble more and more the hearts of those, our brave women and men fight against.

Besides that I was a little concerned watching this, but working out before dawn and then breaking your fast, doesn´t seem to bad, I´ve done worse to my body, like NOT working out and being so tied up with work that my first meals of the day came around 10pm...

Kulsoom Abdullah, you have my greatest respect and I hope this video inspires a lot of people to go out and JUST DO IT besides whatever excuses one my find not to.
BTW: This Article should be renamed "Cultures Unite".


wrote …

Michael Watson, with all due respect, are you NUTS?
Maybe you better ask Indians, and Blacks and Japanese, and Jews and Irish and Italians-- and MUSLIMS -- about those "accepting ways." Each of those groups has been and/or continues to be subject to mindless bigotry.

As far as violence goes, no religion has a monopoly on that.
But I do believe that the historical record indicates that Christianity is still in the running for the gold medal in genocide.

Where do you get the sanctimonious gall to lecture this woman about her religion?
If you were really "accepting" you wouldn't mention her religion at all, pro or con.

Me, I train. And I train hard. It's the pursuit of excellence. It means a lot of sweat, some tears and occasionally a little blood. That spells PAIN. And that's the cultivation of courage.
Anybody who undertakes that journey, I consider family.

And that includes her.

It even includes you. :)

liberty & justice,

Adam Crown


wrote …

I am a soldier and understand that this is a sensitive issue... I think we have all gotten sidetrack on the issue here... Mrs/Miss Kulsoom Abdullah I want you to know I am very proud of you for choosing a goal for yourself and setting out to achieve it.. You keep it up.. I wish all the success in the world.. I have had the privilege of serving this country and the people of other countries and will continue to do so... I have also had the privilege of not only seeing the best of our everyday culture as well as various other parts of the world... from what I can see good people and hard working people are a mainstay and staple of so many countries and as long as we have people willing to assert themselves and in the spirit of peace we can all achieve so much... I wish everyone all the best.. and look forward to continuing this wonderful thing called CROSSFIT...


wrote …

Kulsoom, how I hope you will become a catalyst for more Muslim women to become sports active. I am a Muslim myself and appreciate that living in a Western country makes it a much easier path. My belief is that it is culture rather than religion that is the blockage to more sports participation by these women. Regardless, you are a great ambassador for sport in general and Crossfit in particular.

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