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China beauty school runs boot camp

A Chinese hairdressing school takes a military approach to train students, putting them through marching drills and push-ups, especially if they are caught daydreaming in the class.

world Updated: May 30, 2007 18:17 IST

Perms and press-ups are the order of the day at a Chinese hairdressing school that believes stylists, and not the clients, must suffer for beauty.

Fu Kang Beauty and Hairdressing School, one of China's largest, takes a military approach to training students, putting them through marching drills and meting out push-ups for punishment if they're caught daydreaming in class.

Some 6,000 students attend the school's six campuses, located in Shanghai, Beijing and other big cities.

With their colored hair and fashionable sneakers, they form a unique army, marching on the spot or running around a Shanghai park to the command of their trainer.

"In a hairdressing salon, they are very strict," said Zhou Yaxin, who teaches a basic hairdressing course and is one of about 20 teachers at the Shanghai branch of the school.

"All this is done to complement our teaching and it is not the main aspect of our training," he said of the school's boot camp style.

At Fu Kang, students go through a strictly regimented daily routine that starts off with early morning exercises, theory lessons before lunch and practical classes in the afternoon.

Classes run six days a week and hours are long, similar to those of a hairdressing salon. Not paying attention -- or an incorrect answer -- automatically means press-ups.

Male students have it harder than their female counterparts -- the girls do simple stretches on campus but the boys must do the military-style warm-up that leaves them dripping with sweat.

Fu Kang's no-nonsense approach has earned it the respect of the beauty industry and graduates are almost certainly guaranteed good jobs -- an added attraction in China's overcrowded and highly competitive job market.

The school offers courses ranging from hairstyling and salon management to make-up and beauty. Most students have only completed secondary school.

It takes about two years to qualify as a hairdresser, but Fu Kang offers a fast-track approach for those in a hurry to start earning a living.

For approximately 2,000 yuan ($260), students can complete a simple, two-month course in basic hairdressing, gain work experience at a salon for three months and then return to school for more advanced courses.

Despite the rigorous training, most students relish their course work.
"It is tiring, but I feel it is all worth it," said 24-year-old Zhang Chunhua who used to be a factory worker.

"I came here to learn and I feel I should learn all this in a serious manner. After all, I have spent money on this course and I am not here for a holiday," he added.