Sport & Outdoors
Meet the UAE's fittest woman,
How a rough childhood inspired Eva Clarke to a life of ultra-fitness .
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Eva Clarke tells Kate Dobinson how a tough upbringing gave her enough ‘gravel in the guts and spit in the eyes’ to become the UAE’s fittest woman.
What can you achieve with a spare 10 minutes?
According to Australian expat and mother-of-three Eva Clarke, that’s enough time for at least 250 burpees or 200 push-ups and 200 double-unders (jumping high while swinging a skipping rope twice underfoot).
‘They are my absolute favourites and they aren’t too intense so I can gradually warm up as I do them. Better than a kick in the teeth I say,’ she says cheerfully.
Some might settle for a kick in the teeth and a nice lie down. But that’s not how the former soldier has become a World Record holder, ultramarathon runner, cross fit competitor and a Brazilian ju-jitsu gold medallist.
In between workouts and record attempts, we talk to Eva about her latest venture, an intensive brand of military training called ‘HUA’, to find out how to kick-start our mind and body in 2015…
You have achieved so much, is there anything that remains ‘outside of your comfort zone’?
‘Doing it all’ is the biggest challenge; motherhood, working and finding the time to excel in a wide variety of fitness genres. I want to compete more in Brazilian ju-jitsu (BJJ) in 2015. I am completely outside my comfort zone because I still feel relatively new to the sport. I never seem to sit still because every time I set my mind on one task I take on a couple more to keep me on my toes. Whilst preparing for the 24-hour burpees world record challenge in January 2014 I decided to sign up for the London Marathon in April and at the same time break another World Record for running the fastest marathon carrying a 10kg back pack. I stay motivated because fitness and movement is so ingrained into my lifestyle that not doing it makes me feel as if something is not right in my life. I won’t change the world with my academics but my physical feats will hopefully inspire others to be the best they can be.
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Where does all your strength come from?
My life in general has given me enough gravel in the guts and spit in the eyes to break through any mental barrier that I may be faced with. My mental strength stems from my rough upbringing during childhood and once I got myself together in life it became my mission to accomplish every task I set my mind on. Yes, making mistakes and failing happens, but I never let it keep me down, it just motivates me to work harder, aim higher and push harder. The military certainly did give me the discipline that I lacked in life, it taught me how to take responsibility for myself and how to watch out for my mates – it also gave me that ‘never quit’ ethos.
How competitive was the Australian army and air force?
I love competition so much that I have been doing it for as long as I can remember. In the military I used to push hard to keep in front of the boys. Physical prowess has always been my strength and it was the only area I felt I could shine so I wasn’t going to shy away from it. However, nowadays it’s more Eva vs Eva. I think there comes a point in life when you stop competing with everyone and do it for yourself. Although, I won’t kid you, it was an absolutely unreal feeling getting a Bronze medal in BJJ at the Abu Dhabi World Pro.
How does HUA prepare you for the unknown?
It’s the HUA ethos (heard, understood, acknowledged) that transforms my members. We do everything as a team. I have members who have tried many skills and drills that they thought were impossible to them, yet in my sessions they are doing it with ease. HUA members love to push outside their comfort zones, they love exceeding their own expectations, they love being part of a team and they love being the best they can be. That’s why they stick around, because we are all from a tough breed and failure is not an option. That’s how team HUA roll.
Do you have any new year’s resolutions?
I believe every day is a great opportunity to be a better me – I don’t think we need to wait a whole year to have that fresh start. Winning can start any day, week or month. But for those who need it, I advise them to ‘do it’. Tell yourself you will and that failure is not an option. Who knows, with your own grit and determination you can achieve whatever your heart desires. It has worked for me so there is no reason why it won’t work for anyone else.
Dhs80 for classes or Dhs300 to opt for an online mentoring and fitness programme. Personal training from Dhs450. Locations in Abu Dhabi vary. For more information, visit www.huafitness.com.au Screening is required to attend either or both of the twice-weekly classes.
By Kate Dobinson
Time Out Abu Dhabi, 13 January 2015