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Awakening Kenya’s emerging giant: Health and Wellness industry

By Biko Rading | September 10th 2020
Isaac Hunja, Founder Hunja Active

In developed markets like North America and Europe, the fitness industry rakes in over $30 billion yearly. It’s an industry that is widely regarded as recession-proof and popular in countries with a large middle-class population and most often.

The industry is broadly classified into two main sectors. First are fitness centers or health clubs, popularly known as the ‘gym’. The second, and fast-growing sector, is weight loss.

In Kenya, the Fitness and Wellness industry hit Sh5 billion in 2019 according to Spa and Wellness Association of Africa (SWAA) Kenya Chapter.

A market research and analytics firm, Euromonitor International reveals that the Health and Wellness Tourism in Kenya recorded value growth of 9 per cent in 2018 to reach sales of Sh2.5 billion.

“Kenya is waking up to wellness, and the diaspora has created a demand not only on the continent but also internationally. But spas in Kenya need to raise their standards to cater to the demand from well-travelled wellness tourists seeking international and indigenous treatments. We can’t continue with sub-standards and expect to compete globally, “says Jasnil Danjal, SWAA Executive Committee Chairperson – Kenya.

Danjal says for the country to globally compete it will need to invest more on skilled people, claiming the country is far from the target.

This new venture is attracting Kenyan entrepreneurs, Isaac Hunja Founder of Hunja Active is among those who are reaping from Health and Wellness Tourism. The physical and wellness coach shares his views on what is needed to scale up the growth of this industry to attract investors.

Describe the fitness and wellness industry in Kenya and Africa at large?

The wellness industry in Kenya is one that is rapidly growing, over the last decade, there has been an up-turn in Kenyans taking their wellness more seriously. We have also seen a myriad of wellness facilities cropping up around the country, and especially in the capital city. Around Africa, there has also been a much larger emphasis on wellness as well. In more developed nations such as South Africa, there seems to be a wellness facility on every street! This has been an encouraging evolution to witness in the industry.

What does a fitness center comprise of?  

A fitness center is one that has a facility, physical or digital, in which a client seeking to better their fitness and overall wellness, can get informed, guided, and professional assistance in the steps they should take to reach their respective goals. Most fitness centers in Kenya are of the commercial gym category featuring a room full of fitness machines, professional instructors, and backed by a community of like-minded individuals all reaching for similar goals.

More people are becoming conscious of their health and fitness, what do you offer to cater to this segment?  

First and foremost, at Hunja Active we believe that anyone that is taking their health and wellness seriously is and always will be, an athlete. However, our primary clientele are those that are just getting into their wellness journeys. We like to refer to one’s attempt to reach a wellness goal as a ‘journey’ because it is one that has to be taken with a long-term approach. For someone just beginning their journey, they first require assessment, goal analysis, and a gradual introduction of the various daily habits they must do to consistently approach those goals. When you sign up as a client with us you get all of that together with a strong community of athletes from around the world all coming together virtually every day to train together and build each other up.

As a fitness and wellness coach, would you recommend someone to have their own gym at home?

I would recommend that one does whatever it takes to reach their goals consistently. What I mean by that is one must have a clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve. Once you have that understanding, one can begin to build a sustainable strategy that will see consistent results. Many have outperformed their peers by simply jogging around their neighborhood, and practicing bodyweight exercises. The key is to make fitness a part of your daily routine.

Who are the best customers to target in the fitness business?  

The self-development industry is one in which there are no bad clients or good clients. I believe we are all capable of bettering ourselves. It doesn’t matter where you are starting from, it matters where you are going. By that fact, I believe fitness businesses need not focus on developing a certain type of client, but on making their offering adaptable to various fitness levels, temperaments and backgrounds. Hunja Active targets anyone that is willing and ready to attack their goals, those who have a long-term approach to them, and believe that hard work pays off.

What does it entail to run a fitness business in Kenya?  

Aside from country-specific business regulations and terms. I don’t see a difference in running a fitness business in Kenya versus anywhere else in the world. Good fitness businesses are those that have a foundation of a keen understanding of how to formulate a safe, effective, consistent, and achievable wellness program.

They must also have professionals that are well versed in fitness, nutrition, and mindset training to guide their clients along the way. Once the above points have been achieved, then the business owners must make the business sustainable and profitable.  

Are there plans for future expansion?

The world has gone digital and having tapped into the internet space we are a global start-up. The other factor is that we have embraced online payment and all of our sessions are done online on platforms like Zoom.

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