Cologne, Germany – 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. 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.

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