Of people who set fitness goals as part of their New Year’s resolutions, most give up and others fall short. But there are a few making it and counting the wins this December.
Which category do you fall into? BDLife spoke to a few people about how they came up with fitness programs that worked.
Betty Irungu, a lawyer in Nairobi’s Central Business District, started the year with goals to lose weight, tone glutes and gain strength.
“I wanted to lose belly weight and make my cheeks smaller. I’ve been working out at the gym five days a week every day for the past year. Fitness was also my way to unwind after a long day at the office. I would say I’ve achieved my fitness goals. I lost three kilos. I now weigh 65kg. I’ve gotten stronger, I can deadlift 100kg weights,” she says.
She is most proud of the transformation on her arms, legs, buttocks and abdomen.
What keeps her constant?
“I sit in the office all day and look forward to doing something active in the evening. I also like getting bang for my buck, so once I’ve paid for the gym I have no choice but to continue training. I’ve also noticed that when I take a break, my body slows down and I have a hard time getting back on track,” she says.
Her trainer Winston Musa (known as Stoney in fitness circles) keeps her accountable, especially on days when she’s feeling too lazy to work out.
“I call him and he encourages me to go to the gym. He also calls to check my progress.”
Her biggest challenge was her sweet tooth. “My biggest challenge is sticking to my diet consistently. I’m working on enjoying my Guilty Pleasures in moderation.”
She does intermittent fasting.
Ms. Irungu, who trains at Penthouse Gymnasium in Nairobi’s View Park Towers, began with simple workouts.
“I started deadlifting 20kg and then gradually increased the number of exercises and the weight used. I deadlifted 100kg in November this year and for my arms I can now do dumbbell bicep curls with 10kg weights,” she says.
The exercises that have worked best for Ms. Irungu are power cleans, which are weightlifting, which is good for getting your heart rate up and burning fat while building muscle.
Squats and deadlifts have helped tone her arms, legs, and glutes.
“I lift weights and still look feminine. There is a misconception that lifting weights is not good for women because it can make them look manly. Lifting weights is perfect for toning the body,” she says.
Does she want to continue the fitness journey next year?
“Sport is like a relationship with me and my body. I intend to stick with it. My goals for the coming year are to increase my record and get stronger,” she says.
Your biggest win?
“My sanity. I’m happier now that I’m training.”
David Achola is another fitness rat. I meet him doing bicep curls at the gym and he breathes a sigh of relief when his trainer Stoney tells him to put the dumbbells down and catch his breath before moving on to the next round of exercise.
The 37-year-old says it’s been the norm every day, four times a week. When he started training with Stoney in August 2021, all he wanted was to build muscle and get stronger.
“When I started I weighed 68 kg and now I weigh 76 kg. Currently, I’m deadlifting around 300lbs of weight for the deep muscles of my back. For my chest I can do incline bench training with dumbbells up to 70kg and squats. I deadlift with a weight of up to 130 kg. I can also do bicep curls with 40kg weights,” he says.
“David is one of my strongest clients,” adds Stoney.
The father-of-two says his best exercises are chest, back and arm workouts. He doesn’t particularly like sit-ups and burpees.
“I find it exhausting,” he says.
So what kept him on course?
Mr. Achola points to his trainer Stoney.
“He keeps an eye on me, calls me every day to see if I’m coming to the gym and updates me on the workouts planned for the day,” he says.
Most people who have not met their fitness goals say they don’t have the time to exercise.
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Mr Achola says finding time to exercise has not been a challenge.
“I run my own business to balance things out. I have time to work, time to exercise, time to be with my family, and time to go to church,” he says.
After the interview, he has more push-ups ahead of him.
At 3 p.m. a lady comes in and makes a call. Stoney tells me he has an ax to grind with her. Of her required 30 sessions, Catherine Wanjiru only attended 13 sessions. She started her fitness training in November of this year.
The 36-year-old new mom says it hasn’t been easy juggling the gym, work and being a breastfeeding mom.
“I can’t train in the evenings because I have to rush home to be with the baby. I can’t work out in the morning because I have to make sure the baby is ready for the day before I get to the office. That’s why I can only come to the gym between 3 and 4 p.m. when there’s not much work in the office,” she says.
Most of the time, she sacrifices her one-hour lunch break to find time to hit the gym. “Sometimes I have to call Winston and tell him I can’t make it when I’m so overwhelmed at work and can’t sneak out.”
Despite the hectic schedule she has to manage, Ms. Wanjiru is determined to keep exercising as it is good for her health.
“I have high blood pressure, so if I don’t watch my weight I can easily get other diseases like diabetes. I had back pain after giving birth but when I started exercising last month the pain subsided.”
Her fitness goal for 2023 is to work on her upper body and lose excess weight in the abdomen and arms.
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For a breastfeeding mother, she has lost much of the baby weight. “Since I started going to the gym I’ve lost 4 kg. Now I weigh 61 kg. I feel lighter and so much better about myself. I’ve regained my confidence,” she adds.
How long after giving birth did it take her to start working out at the gym?
“I started light exercise because I had a cesarean scar. When I started, I couldn’t even lift anything. I would just do the general exercise like treadmill walking and some jumping jacks. Over time, I graduated to do more exercises. Now I can do 120 jumping jacks, 60 deadlifts and the challenging high-intensity interval training (HIIT).”
These workouts have helped her tone her thighs and tone her upper body.
“I like that we have a variety of exercises because I get bored easily,” she says.
She appreciates that her trainer shares home workouts to do on the days she can’t make it to the gym.
She hopes to do more workouts as her baby gets older.
“I want to make exercise a part of my lifestyle,” she says.
One thing that stands out is the interaction between fitness trainers and their clients and how they ensure you reach your goal.
“When a customer chooses to pay you, it means they trust you, so you need to make the experience comfortable for them. At the end of the day, I’m not only her coach, but also her therapist, friend, and brother. They come to you to relieve their stress,” says Stoney.
What does he do to help his clients achieve their fitness goals?
“I have an app that allows me to track the progress of all my clients. I also prepare their daily exercises depending on the fitness goals each client has. Before I create a program for each client, I find out what each client wants so I can prepare the workouts that are right for their fitness goal,” he says.
He encourages his clients to stay on a calorie deficit diet that allows them to burn more than they eat. If you want to lose weight, he recommends intermittent fasting.
“I accompany my clients in the step-by-step introduction of a healthy lifestyle. I have 40 customers and I call each of them every day,” he says.
To get fitness enthusiasts on their toes, Stoney says, he needs to be strict but respectful.
“I give them feedback on their fitness progress and tell them what they need to do if they want to improve,” he says.
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