Aerobics is not something everyone can perform. Imagine having to move your body continuously for many minutes, sometimes up to an hour. One may feel the sore within the hour. But for Rosnah Jonet, more affectionately known as Kak Rose, it has been her lifelong practice and passion.
Born in Johor on July 15, 1945, the aerobics instructor who is turning 75 soon is still actively holding classes for like-minded individuals at her house in Ipoh. What’s even more interesting, Kak Rose composes her own aerobic choreography!
“I started teaching aerobics in 1985,” she reminisced. “Before this, during my school times, I was already active in traditional Malay dances like Joget and Zapin.
“My late husband and I relocated to and lived in London and Japan for a while. From there, I picked up ballroom dancing, because he was an avid dancer too.
“I used to be an assistant psychiatric nurse in training at Hospital Bahagia, Tanjung Rambutan for two years until 1965. My late husband allowed me to work for another year when I completed training.” Kak Rose added.
“When I started having children, I became a full-time housewife,” she said. “My personal career as an aerobics instructor started only when my children were old enough to fend for themselves.
“I would say that my biggest inspiration was Jane Fonda,” she remarked. “Her workout videos motivated me to do the same, but I added my own twist by creating a custom workout choreography.
“In 1983, I was with Civil Services’ Women and Wives Association (PUSPANITA) during their launch,” Kak Rose further reminisced. “It was only during that time did Malaysians start recognising aerobics. My first teaching of aerobics was with PUSPANITA. I taught them until 1990, which was when I started my own aerobics classes, until now,” she mentioned.
“My passion towards music and dance brought me to where I am today. The rhythm which I exercise to is what interests me all along.”
Besides aerobics, Kak Rose surrounds her house with many plants, the most prominent being ferns.
“I’ve been an avid planter, but the main reason was because both my children are allergic to pollen,” she said. “Besides, having many plants in the house is free oxygen!”
Asked on her birthday wish, Kak Rose answered, “Hopefully, my family members are blessed with good health. I wish to see them soon because it has been so long due to the Movement Control Order (MCO).”
Mrs Ngiam, 74, who has been the longest-running class attendee for more than 30 years, conveys her respect towards Kak Rose for her discipline.
“Kak Rose was a member of the parents and teachers association of the school where I taught her daughter,” she stated.
“Her discipline is one of a kind. Even during the fasting month of Ramadan, her classes still went on as usual. It’s good to exercise.”
Kak Rose’s daughter, Firuz Hussin, is proud that her mother has not given up on staying in shape and teaching aerobics until today.
“My mother hasn’t had the smoothest life. My father passed away when I was in my first year of university. She went through many financial difficulties. She tried cooking, baking cakes, catering and whatever possible to sustain the family,” Firuz explained. “Luckily, she came across aerobics.
For a soon-to-be 75-year-old, Kak Rose suffers the typical old age ailments, like diabetes and osteoarthritis. But they are not reason enough to stop her from doing what she loves the most.
“It’s not an easy feat. When I watch her, I’m simultaneously scared and amazed at the exercise routine,” Firuz expressed. “Age is just a number to my mother. She is indeed an inspirational role model for everyone to look up to, even to me.”
On her advice to stay in shape, Kak Rose said, “Exercising alone, without a proper diet, does not work. One has to have the discipline and right mindset. Nothing is impossible.”
Here’s to many more returns to Kak Rose!