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Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005


Reiko Ito

Reiko Ito, age 46, is one of the 75 certified AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) instructors in Japan, a teacher to other trainers and one of the few qualified to lead SAQ (Speed, Agility, Quickness) classes here. She wants to empower everyone and she knows just how.

Reiko Ito

A woman's place is on the bench press. Of course, a man's is too, as we are equal after all.

Physical health is in the mind. A healthy body is not necessarily one without challenges or problems but one that is able to do most things one wants to do, hopefully without pain and while having fun.

I'm like a tuna fish, always on the move. Tuna die when they stop moving, so I don't slow down, ever.

I devour books and yet I am never full. I love reading and was a literature major, but nowadays I go for science books, especially those dealing with physics, which I hated all my life. I want to broaden my horizons.

I was bored out of my mind at university because the professors always adjusted to the stupidest, laziest students' level. I was hungry for a challenge, but I never got it. Now that I am an instructor, I always make sure all my students get their money's worth.

Young men always try to pick me up. I am talking about guys around 18 to 25 who think I am so cute and yet powerful. Now what does that tell you? First of all, that they have a great sense of humor, but also that men actually want fit women. But there are so few in Japan. Lucky for me!

The body is sexy . . . There, I said it, so sue me! The fear of a sexual harassment suit has killed most compliments. Ever since we imported the Western concept of sexual harassment, we haven't been able to compliment each other freely. I still do it, though, and as a trainer I can, but most men are scared to say anything nice to a woman. It's really pathetic!

If your heart gets broken, start working out. Not only will you feel better, but you will look better and what is cooler than that? That's what I did after my happy, eight-year marriage fell apart. I was so depressed, but during and after working out, I always felt good.

I quit smoking a long time ago in order to prepare my body to have a baby. Although I haven't gotten pregnant, at least I got rid of those evil cigarettes.

I won a few tennis matches, and my husband divorced me. I guess my ex-husband didn't like losing. Maybe I should have let him win the games . . . no, I did the right thing.

Too bad our marriage was not like a computer. Whenever I felt sad about my divorce, all I had to do was call my ex-husband and ask a computer-related question and listen to him go on for hours. It was great because it would remind me why I was batsu-ichi* and happy!

No wonder there are so many sexless couples in Japan: Being fit is healthy. Being fit is sexy. Who is fit here?

I am often asked if I am scared to be alone in my old age. Not one bit. I am independent, have many friends, and everybody knows that most men die before their wives so women are left behind anyhow. So even my married women friends will be alone, and then we will just hang out together and have fun. Sorry, guys!

I am independent, make enough money to live alone and survive in Tokyo so what do most people say to me? "Oh, you don't need to get married then!"This is such a weird comment and makes me sad to think that most women get married just so they get a man to take care of them. Poor men . . . no wonder they die younger!

Recently most of my dates turn into counseling sessions. It feels good to be trusted, but come on guys! Give me a break! I am generally a happy woman, so listening to men's tales of woe really turns me off. Guys don't get this and are shocked when I am suddenly "busy" after one or two dates.

I am a donkey trotting after a carrot. I hope I never catch it because then I will get lazy and die. My carrot is the dream to make everyone healthier and happier.

I don't attract skirt chasers, maybe because I love wearing pants - although I sometimes feel that I need help putting them on.

Japanese are walking time-bombs and they are going off left and right. Skinny or chubby, most of them lack muscles and therefore have a high body-fat ratio. I want to help them and I just hope they let me.

*batsu-ichi: divorced once, literally means one strike.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology" http://www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/japanology_e.html

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