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October 16, 2014 11:35 AM EDT

Need some motivation to exercise? In China you can now hire a “running mate” – a fit stranger to run with you and help with inspiration.

Instead of a personal trainer, these running partners aren’t professionals. Most of them are students, and they’re simply meant to provide a “little old-fashioned encouragement,” according to the Global Times.

Chen Li, one of the running partners, told the Global Times that some people hire him for safety reasons at night, but others just need help shedding a few pounds. “Mr. Zhang was my first client and he hoped someone could push him to exercise because he is getting fat from long office hours,” Li said.

Running partners reportedly make up to 3,000 yuan ($490) a month from the gig.

Write to Tessa Berenson at

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