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As gymnasiums grow, females and middle-aged invest in fitness


Srinagar, Nov 17: Kashmir is witnessing a growth in the number of gymnasiums, with people of all ages and genders accepting fitness like a ‘culture’.

The fitness industry in the valley has come a long way since its inception.


Earlier, teenagers and adults used to hit gyms, but the trend is slowly reversing. Now, the gym-goers include women, young girls, and middle-aged adults.

“Fitness is a very broad term, and yes people are becoming more aware about how they look and how they feel. Speaking about past few years, there is vast increase in the awareness of fitness and people’s attitude have drastically changed from good to better,” said Isaam Wani, co-founder of Gold Gym at Rajbagh here.

Isaam informed that the age group frequenting their gyms ranges from 17- 60 years and half of them are females.

“I am extremely happy that Kashmiris are becoming more aware about their health,” said Isaam.

Isaam said that the gym’s motto from the very beginning was to imbibe the fitness culture among the females here.

“We have pretty good number of females working out for us under certified female trainers,” he informed.

Sameer Shah, one of the founding members of Anytime Fitness at Jawahar Nagar, echoed the same views.

“Well I’d say from last one year there has been a lot of change in people’s lifestyle since so many good gyms opened. People who never worked out are now saying, when I sometimes interact with them, they are like ‘we don’t come gym for the physical fitness. We more of come to the gym for our mental fitness and happiness. So yes it has changed people’s life here in Kashmir in a good way,” said Sameer.

The gym has a total of 150 female clients registered with it.

“Yes, we do have a specialized female trainers and we have a separate yoga instructor and zumba trainer for females as well,” said Sameer.

Sameer, however, explained the various problems faced by female trainers as the job is deemed unfit for the women in a Kashmiri society.

“The challenges are mostly projected from the family, as female trainee as a profession is still somewhat taboo and even if the family is supportive, majority of the people in and around the society don’t give heed to such a profession for a girl, which is very unfortunate,” said the young fitness enthusiast.

Sameer said, “Apart from this another challenge faced by female trainers is the lack of female athletes in the gyms when compared to their male counterparts, which clearly gives these female trainers a lesser chance to earn in the manner as the male trainers do.”

While the industry is growing in the Valley so do the number of women who are, combining their knowledge and experience in the fitness industry to make their mark in it.

One such example is that of Mehreen Amin of Bohri Kadal who single-handedly trains and runs “Fitness Hub Healthcare Center” gym near Islamia College, Hawal.

The private fitness club, which opened a year ago, is now rapidly gaining popularity among female sports enthusiasts and its members are on a constant rise, despite a backlash from traditional male quarters in the old city.

“The attitude with regard to fitness and health has underwent a sea change in the Valley. People have begun to realize that gym is beyond six packs abs,” Mehreen said.

The young female trainer said, “Since the club opened, 100 women and girls have registered and regularly practice yoga, body building and other exercises, and the number is consistently rising in the face of traditional restrictions.”

Mehreen, however, rued: “Fitness is still not seen as a serious enough industry in our society and my work often gets discounted. I have often been at the receiving end of bad comments and abuses but as long as my clients and family are happy with me, I don’t care.”