SHANGHAI: Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she's being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge.
The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in recent months as her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines.
After becoming a gym bunny in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to.
She has also built up a fan base on social media, clocking up 410,000 followers on TikTok with her impressive exercise routines and encouraging others to follow her example.
A post on the video-sharing app of the pensioner doing a rapid set of lung-busting squats and lunges has been viewed more than 1 million times.
"I will work out as long as I'm still alive," Chen, who turned 68 this year, tells AFP at a gym in a Shanghai suburb.
Chinese state media have reported Chen's story with gusto because it fits the government's drive to encourage people of all ages to get fitter.
That message has been amplified this year by the assertion that being fit is one way to help beat COVID-19, which emerged in Wuhan in late 2019.
Xinmin Evening News labelled Chen "hardcore grandma" and Xinhua news agency called her "heavy-lifting granny". She has also been featured on television.
For Chen, who worked for a food company before retiring, pumping iron has come late in life.
She began going to the gym following a chance meeting with a personal trainer, propelled into action by worries about her deteriorating health and weight gain.
But she has shed the flab and says that last year she was given a clear bill of health by doctors, having previously had problems with a fatty liver, high blood pressure and eye cataracts.
Chen, who has a grandson aged 14, recalled the shocked looks she got the first time she walked through the gym door.
"They found it very strange, they don't usually see people at such an old age who care about their health so much," she says.
Under the watchful eye of a personal trainer, and barely pausing for breath, Chen ploughs through a series of exercises using weight machines, free weights and other dynamic movements designed to burn fat and gain muscle.
Despite her active lifestyle, Chen has no sporting backgRead More – Source