Guru of ‘well-being’ takes Japan by storm

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Guru of ‘well-being’ takes Japan by storm


Korea’s ugly duckling story of an average middle-age woman transforming herself into a swan-like “well-being” model is set for export.
Jeong Da-yeon, 40, the leader of the fitness craze that swept the country last year, is reviving her crusade ― this time in Japan.
Ms. Jeong’s book, “Feel Good About Yourself Spring Day Fitness” has been flying off bookshelves there since it went on sale in May and her publisher is launching a fifth print. Japan’s major women’s magazine “Saita” produced a six-page spread on Ms. Jeong in its 10th anniversary on Oct. 24. NHK interviewed her in July and will do so again this month.
Ms. Jeong said she is benefiting from the “Korean Wave,” the term given to the popularity of Korean stars across Asia. “Fitness-buff actors like Bae Yong-jun and Kwon Sang-woo gained popularity in Japan and the Japanese became interested in an ‘original fitness buff’ like me.”
Japanese visitors occasionally drop by her fitness center in the Ilsan district, Goyang, and recently a housewife from Japan said she changed her mind about committing suicide after reading Ms. Jeong’s book.
A Japanese female singer also visited and said she regained confidence because of Ms. Jeong and wanted to know more about her workout techniques. Tourist group are also regulars for pictures with Ms. Jeong.
“I heard that the Japanese tend to kneel down and listen to people they like or admire,” Ms. Jeong said. “I was puzzled when they listened to me on their knees as I explained how to exercise.”
Ms. Jeong’s story of going from a housewife weighing 68 kilograms (149 pounds) and with two children to a lean, attractive pin-up has resonated with many Japanese women.
In late 2003, Ms. Jeong became a celebrity housewife when she started a diet and exercise journal on her Web site. Her life has since changed dramatically. She opened her fitness club, and people recognize her on the street. Recently, she received an official personal trainer license from the United States Physical Trainers Association.
“My wish is to create a hanryu diet and fitness culture,” Ms. Jeong said. “I hope that many people exercise, become healthy and live life confidently, just as I did.”

by Park Hye-min
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