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July 31, 2021

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Woman fitness instructor breaks stereotype

BEING a female fitness instructor takes not only strength but also courage, especially for Aliya Rozi, a Uygur woman in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where many women are traditionally reluctant to wear shorts or have body contact with men.

Aliya Rozi, 25, challenged her parents as well as local customs by becoming a full-time instructor in a fitness club in the regional capital Urumqi in 2016, after graduating from college.

During her childhood, the Urumqi local dreamed of becoming a dancer. “I’d like to present myself by stretching my body and keeping in good shape,” she said.

Her parents, who preferred that she should find herself a stable job after college, persuaded her to major in broadcasting instead of dance at Xinjiang University in 2012, expecting her to be a broadcaster in the future.

Her parents’ wish never came true, as one year later, she became fascinated with her part-time job as a fitness instructor.

“It’s an interesting job. It’s unfair to exclude us from the profession, simply because of our gender,” she said, adding that the job, similar to a dancer’s, enabled her to stretch her body and keep in good shape.

It took the male members in the club some time to accept her — the first female instructor there.

“Some of them believed those in bold workout clothes were ‘bad girls,’ while some others were afraid of signing up for my courses for fear of their whining wives,” Aliya Rozi recalled.

Desperate to be recognized, she made up her mind to sharpen her professional skills. In addition to the efforts for obtaining relevant certificates, she regularly flies to Shanghai, some 4,000 kilometers from Urumqi, to learn more cutting-edge training methods by attending an advanced-level program.

“I’ve seen a wide gap between instructors in Urumqi and our counterparts in Shanghai. They are more professional in many ways,” she said.

Her efforts have paid off. The number of men in her one-on-one classes surged from zero to 15 in the past few years. Hundreds of other people have enrolled for her courses. Her income reaches as high as 10,000 yuan (US$1,550) a month.

“My coach is professional, considerate and always passionate. I’m never tired of following instructions in her class,” said Akila, one of her trainees in the club.

Aliya Rozi became a celebrity in her community after she was invited to participate in a TV show. Inspired by her, 38 women from all walks of life have followed suit as full-time or part-time fitness instructors.

She said that compared with men, women are more careful and thoughtful.

“As people lay more emphasis on health and fitness, women can do an even better job in the expanding fitness market,” she said.


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