Alia Farouk, a mother of two, is Kashmir’s first fitness coach for a women’s gym. Farouk has trained more than 20,000 women during her ten-year tenure. Farouk, a resident of Srinagar, is advised to focus on fitness as her health deteriorates. She could not find gyms that fit women. She says the environment is very strict and women are not allowed to go to the gym. “Because of our personal activities, I had the opportunity to visit Delhi, where I spent some time hitting the gym. After a few training sessions, I felt completely relaxed and feeling special,” Farouk recalls.
“My wife, who owns a gym, wanted to open a women’s fitness center. He wanted me to run the business on my own. ” Some professions are easily accepted locally and one such trainer says that Farouk had previously worked in the clothing industry. “I could not manage my work, chores, and children with the gym and training sessions, and I had to quit my job. Finally, for the first time in the valley, we started the all-female gym, ”said Farouk. At first she faced many criticisms and complaints at her fitness center but she overcame all the negatives with the help of her husband.
“Our community does not accept my work and I am attacked on social media. I was discouraged, but it was my husband who stood behind me and gave me what I needed most. He asked me not to listen to criticism and he wanted me to be optimistic about what I was doing,” said Farouk. She made her name in the community. “I’m happy. With some training, some have recovered in three months.”
Although running as a woman in Kashmir was a challenge, the financial struggles and challenges of her career were even more challenging. “We continued to pay rent and bank loans during the repeal of Article 370 and the CV lock. It was a very difficult chapter as we continued to make money out of our pockets, ”said Farouk. But she is confident and strives to encourage as many women as possible during her fitness training.