German gym caters to Muslim women only

A gym in Germany that caters specially to Muslim women is doing so well after its first year that others want to imitate its combination of modest attire and tough workouts. ( dpa )

All the personal trainers at Hayat in the melting-pot Cologne district of Ehrenfeld are women: Emine and Yasmin give tips or show demurely dressed clients how to work the treadmill and tune in to Turkish pop music over their headsets.

Hayat offers the full range of gym machines, including exercise bikes and devices to encourage firmer thighs.

It also offers the Muslims a prayer room.

This is one gym where you won't see skimpy shorts, figure-hugging leotards and lots of bare skin. Many work out in head-scarves.

Proprietress Emine Aydemir, 39, says on the first anniversary that her no-men-allowed gym has been a business success.

"Many women who wear scarves come here because so many other gyms treat them badly," she explained. "At Hayat, they feel at home and nobody stares at them because of what they are wearing.

"Us Muslimas don't envy one another's bodies. We don't stare at one another and compare our figures. The women take themselves as they are," says Aydemir, who launched Hayat (the name means "life" in Turkish) at the start of April 2007.

Currently she has 350 signed-up customers, 90 per cent of them of ethnic Turkish background. The rest hail from Morocco, Tunisia, Romania, Egypt and a few from Germany. "Their average age is 30," the business owner says.

DSSV, an organization representing fitness and spa-industry employers throughout Germany, says there is only one other gym specially for Muslimas in the country - in the northern city of Hamburg.

DSSV Refit Kamberovic said it was clearly an opportunity for investors in other metro areas in Germany, population 82 million.

Aydemir believes imitators are already in the throes of setting up similar gyms in other cities.

"I've fielded a lot of phone calls from people who ask exactly how they should go about setting up a gym like this," she said. "I tell them the recipe for success is to ban the cult of beautiful bodies and to emphasize health, enjoyment and sharing."

Peak times at Hayat are the mornings and the late afternoons.

Hatice Aydin, a trim 27-year-old who works out every day, explains, "Before I came here, I used to go to another women-only gym, but I was the only one there wearing a head scarf. They were always giving me funny looks.

"I had to go into the toilet cubicles to get undressed and dressed. A lot of German women don't know our etiquette and they were always staring at me if I got dressed in the group changing rooms."

Aydemir says she was taught that Islam forbids exposing any part of the body between the bosom and knees, even to other women.

At Hayat, both the changing rooms and the showers are divided up into cubicles so that this rule of modesty can be followed.

"Even when the girls use our sauna, they wear a towel around themselves," said Aydemir, who loves sport and always used to wonder why she could not find a gym organized around Islamic custom.

Aydemir says customers do not have to be Muslim to sign up to Hayat.

"Lots of cultures and customs co-exist in this town," she said. "We would never send anyone away."

Mothers can drop off their small children at a playroom in the gym, where the trainers keep an eye on them while mama works the weights.

Husbands are not allowed into the gym, even when they are picking up their own wives after a workout. The sign on the door says bluntly, "Access for male visitors prohibited." That includes mailmen and repairmen too.

Gulay, 29, who is training her abdominals on a shiny machine, explains that this is the main reason she chose Hayat.

"I certainly would never work out in a gym with men in the same room," she said. "If there were men here, I'd find that very upsetting. It would not be my kind of space at all."

Average monthly salary in Baku in 2020 grows
Average monthly salary in Baku in 2020 grows
Southern Gas Corridor CJSC's needs for cash in 2021 to be fully covered by proceeds from projects
Southern Gas Corridor CJSC's needs for cash in 2021 to be fully covered by proceeds from projects
Azerbaijani currency rates for March 5
Azerbaijani currency rates for March 5
Loading Bars
Latest
Uzkimyosanoat, Shell talk modernization of Uzbekistan’s chemical enterprises
Kazakhstan’s Almaty Power Stations JSC opens tender for electrical work services
Kazakhstan boosts trade turnover with China in 2020
President Ilham Aliyev delivers speech at congress of ruling party
With OPEC+ restraint in place during April, upward pressure on prices to continue
President Aliyev sends condolences to President Erdogan regarding helicopter crash
Uzbekistan, Belarus agree on increasing permits for road transport of goods for 2021
Rosselkhoznadzor allows number of Uzbek companies to import tomatoes to Russia
Saipem to take part in green hydrogen hub creation in Italy
Kazakhstan announces 2021 oil production plans
Average monthly salary in Baku in 2020 grows
Azerbaijan shares footage from Fuzuli's Yukhary Rafadinli village (VIDEO)
US congressman Steve Cohen issues statement on Khojaly tragedy's anniversary
Kazakhstan to start partial sales of petroleum products through commodity exchanges
Turkmenistan defines tasks for "Single Window for export-import operations"
Kazakhstan to increase oil extraction volumes within OPEC+ agreement
Kazakhstan’s KazTransOil opens tender for wells servicing
Azerbaijan's Aghdam - now huge field of ruins, BBC report says (VIDEO)
Southern Gas Corridor CJSC's needs for cash in 2021 to be fully covered by proceeds from projects
Azerbaijani currency rates for March 5
Uzbek chemical production company to buy technological equipment via tender
Azerbaijani oil prices on the rise
Creator of Tukish 'Bayraktar' UAV talks General, who died in helicopter crash
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for March 5
Ceyhan terminal transships over 36 million tons of ACG oil since early 2021
Oil prices surge as OPEC+ extends output cuts into April
Uzbekistan’s fiscal policy to continue supporting economic recovery - Fitch Ratings
Azerbaijani FM extends condolences to Turkey over helicopter crash
Kazakhstan eyes to strengthen interaction with int'l financial organizations
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Ecology plans to implement projects in liberated territories
Azerbaijan records growth in Jan.2021 lending to agricultural sector
Turkmenistan's Balkan region opens tender for recreation center construction
Kazakhstan’s COVID-19 daily case count stands at 857
Turkey reports 11,322 new COVID-19 cases
Official says satisfied with results of human trial of Iranian COVID-19 vaccine
WHO Europe hopeful Covid-19 vaccines arrive in Georgia in coming weeks
Azerbaijani defense minister expresses condolences to Turkish side
China sets modest GDP growth target as economy improves
Kazakhstan may take part in restoration of Azerbaijani liberated lands
Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Tonga evacuate people over tsunami threat
6.5-magnitude quake hits Kermadec Islands region
Uzbek and Belarusian experts to exchange experience in standardization
Italy reports nearly 23,000 new COVID-19 cases as some see "third wave"
5.9-magnitude quake jolts central Greece, no injuries reported
Georgian Railway expects to refinance Eurobonds
UK records another 6,573 coronavirus cases, 242 deaths
Azerbaijan agrees to continue existing oil production cuts in April (PHOTO)
7.3-magnitude quake hits waters off New Zealand
Armenia can also benefit from regional transportation projects if behaves in normal way - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan becomes one of Eurasia's main and reliable transportation, logistics hub - President Aliyev
We invite ECO member states to benefit from “Zangazur corridor” - President of Azerbaijan
We condemn unequal, unfair distribution of vaccines among developing and developed countries - President Aliyev
Now we are looking into future - President Aliyev
Military victory over Armenia on battlefield was also fully accomplished by political ways - President Aliyev
Stronger Turkey is, stronger is Azerbaijan and all its partners - President Aliyev
IAEA chief: Technical meeting with Iran to be held in April
WHO praises Georgia for curbing Covid-19
Belarusian BELAVIA airlines operating one-way flights on Baku-Minsk route
Macron to spare Paris region from weekend lockdown, for now
Kazakhstan determines priorities of foreign policy
Compliance services become more relevant in Azerbaijan - PASHA Bank
Several servicemen killed in military helicopter crash in Turkey
Azerbaijan doing everything to create new transport infrastructure in South Caucasus – Russian analyst
New reality created in South Caucasus - head of department at Istanbul Kadir Has University
Demining of Azerbaijani lands complicated by Armenia’s refusal to provide maps of minefields - Expert
Long-awaited end to Karabakh conflict creates new opportunities - Former US ambassador to Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan shows footage from Kechikli village of Zangilan district (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan interested in strengthening export and investment potential with Argentina
President Aliyev gives speech at virtual Summit of Economic Cooperation Organization (PHOTO/VIDEO)
MFA shares potential sectors of Lithuanian investment in Georgia
Georgian kiwi enters Japanese market
Azerbaijan's ENGINET company talks unique solutions for local market
Kazakh gold extracting venture opens tender to buy spares
Kazakhstan intends to attract funds to improve energy efficiency of facilities
Volume of food products sold in Baku's trade network increases
Georgia shows progress in curbing coronavirus cases - WHO
Azerbaijani Finance Ministry allocates funds for maintenance services
Restaurant business subsidizing program launched in Tbilisi
UK's Johnson says Brexit problems in Northern Ireland are solvable
Supporting Member Country ECAs: ICIEC endorse supportive reinsurance treaty with JLGC
Uztekstilprom, French Proparco talk profitable financing for textile projects
Georgian consulting company launching project for female entrepreneurs
Georgian wine export to US down
Russia and Azerbaijan lead in import of electricity to Georgia
Several low-cost airlines resume flights to Georgia
Azerbaijan-Belarus foreign trade operations for Jan. 2021 revealed
Azerbaijan confirms 124 more COVID-19 recoveries
Kazakhstan increasing control over development of oil and gas fields
State property privatization plan in Georgia surpasses initial plan
Cargo containers to pass through Azerbaijan towards Turkey, Europe - ADY Container
Rehabilitation centers can be established in Azerbaijan's liberated lands - Agency
Azerbaijan discloses number of imported cars in 2020
Uzbekistan’s 1M2021 profit for banks increases
Germany approves AstraZeneca for over-65s
New plant to be commissioned in Baku
Azerbaijan to receive Astra Zeneca vaccine via COVAX mechanism - WHO
Turkmengas opens again tender for operation of video surveillance system
Uzbekistan, Belarus agree to expand range of mutually supplied agricultural products
Uzbek currency rates for March 5
Italian Eni launches implementation of its solar energy project in Kazakhstan
All news