“Varzeshe Sobh-gahi” (morning exercise) has been promoted more and more in the past few years. It has been more heavily emphasized by state media outlets, which air a number of morning exercise programs (which as far I know, weren’t aired at least up until the early 90′s).
As far as phys ed classes go in schools, girls have one class per week, and boys (my brothers school being the only boys school I’m comparing my own to) have two classes.
I have personally never been particularly athletic, but I enjoy bike riding, jogging, outdoor activities. When I had be covered, I just didn’t want to do any of those things anymore – even if I could. That’s not speaking for everybody though – a lot of my friends put an effort into exercise, despite the limitations.
So while keeping the dress codes intact, the state has been trying to find ways of getting females to be more active physically. This is particularly important for more conservative parts of the country, where there are certainly no female-only parks (there is one in Tehran), or parks at all. Where women just are not physically active or exercise for women may not even be “appropriate”.
Marziyeh Vahideh-Dastjerdi who is the health minister in the new administration is seen here at a local event promoting morning exercise.
I have not the least bit of respect for her like most/all Ahmaidnejad ministers, but what events like this do is that they break some of the conservative objections to women’s exercise – while of course, succumbing to others. But folks like the one you see in that link form the very base of the Ahmadinejad support circle and they have a harder time protesting if it’s one of their own. For instance, if a female Khatami minister (assuming he had chosen one. He never did precisely because he was afraid of the political backlash) had taken a photo like the one you see above … the country would have been in chaos right now. Both hardline political circles and their support base would have been in fury.
But we’ve seen over and over again that Ahmadinejad is willing to push boundaries or ignore the strict religious guidelines of his own base to win supporters … and can often even get away with it. He’s a shrewd businessman willing to take risks – be it with people’s lives, like in the S-election, or morning exercise.
Here are more photos from the event: