CrossFit trainer Noor Dajani is empowering Middle Eastern women through sport

Noor Dajani found her inner strength through CrossFit. Now she's helping other women do the same. Courtesy Noor Dajani

Noor Dajani is a Jordan-based certified CrossFit trainer. She is the founder of MePower, a dual exercise and mental health program for women. Dajani is a member of the 2019 class of the U.S. Department of State and espnW's Global Sports Mentoring Program. She is also running the 2019 New York City Marathon.

There were no women referees, women judges or coaches. Also, the [sports] audiences [were almost always men] in Jordan. And my family preferred that there only be women when I practiced any sports. That limited me from practicing sports and participating in any on the national level. I only played in the background of the school, where there were only women.

But I loved sports.

At some point, I stopped thinking about [the restrictions] and just took it as, "This is my life. This is fact." And that was from about age 12 until 25 years old. Then I hit rock-bottom. That was after I gave birth to my first son.

I was very depressed. I felt like I was in my own prison, a prison I created because I was living to meet the expectations of other people. And from there, I started asking myself questions: "What makes me happy? What is the thing that I like to do?" The [answer] was always related to fitness, health and education.

Slowly and gradually, I started to try to do more of the things that I love. I stopped caring so much about having to be in women-only environments. And I have a very, very supportive husband who believed that I'm free to do whatever I want to do.

Then I started spinning and [doing] bootcamps. And I got into weightlifting when I lived in Columbus, Ohio, where my husband got a job in the States.

From there, I started to coach other people. I went on to coach in a CrossFit gym in Jordan [once we returned]. It was a mixed[-gender] gym. Me being in the gym created a very safe environment for women to work out in. They could even work out [alongside] men, even if they wore hijabs or coverings. I became a role model for women to come into the gym and feel comfortable.

I learned how to find the strength deep inside me through CrossFit. I learned to do more of the hard things. In CrossFit, you push so hard in the workout, and you just go. You need to go through the hardship, go through what's challenging, and then you get the outcome. In life, you experience lots of hardships -- some of them [end up being a] success, some of them are failures. It makes you more resilient.

CrossFit gave me goals, and it gave the people I coach goals. Everybody is pushing hard. Everybody's focusing on what they can do, how they can learn to do a better job. How they can push their limits.

My coaching experience led me in the direction of founding MePower, which is all about empowering women through healthy living. It's all about having a healthy body, mind and soul. It's about seeking mental, physical and spiritual health. I develop individual programs per participant.

But it's going to be a lot of work spreading the word about MePower. The Global Sports Mentorship Program (GSMP), [a five-week international exchange in which I'll work with a mentor to develop an action plan to make an impact back home], will help me, help women in Jordan to better balance their lives. It will help them overcome adversity.