Shiverenje Simani, 29, is a fitness trainer and lifestyle influencer. He shares how he turned around his life in the gym.
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If your mother or father asked you what you do, what do you say?
I don’t think they completely understand everything I do yet but I explained to them, we have been good for the last two years, they accepted and moved on. They understand that I do something quite unconventional that does not necessarily have a definition, it is basically a business. My mum actually works out now, she appreciates fitness.
What exactly do you do?
I am in the fitness and nutrition business where I identify as a fitness lifestyle influencer. I am a trainer and basically a coach as I help my clients attain their fitness and nutrition goals. I am also a social media influencer. I am trying to encourage people that it is much easier fulfilling and sustainable at the end of the day to make fitness part of their lifestyle as opposed to the short-lived new year goals and beach body goals. Basically, what I do is showing people how to live your life hospital free.
How was the transition from the regular job market in to the fitness business?
It was hard at the beginning, I had a regular job in the hotel industry. I quit because, I didn’t enjoy it, I worked in shifts, missed public holidays, weekends; generally, I never spent time with my family at the time I wanted to spend time with them so those were some of the reasons.
I studied hotel management and hospitality at the United States International University (USIU), after that I did a lot of reading on fitness and I learnt some of the things I know now through my former business partner then I finally managed to get certification on that. There is still a lot of self-teaching that goes on. I have to constantly keep up with the times.
What are some of the myths you are trying to debunk with your style of training?
With my clients, I am trying to get rid of the notion that it is a one-time fix. If one should make working out a lifestyle, they should at least work out three times a week, that is less than half of their week. I believe everyone has time, if it is important then you will definitely create time. It is easier and more fulfilling and sustainable to make fitness and nutrition part of your day to day habit and it becomes easier.
You have explored other ventures in fitness like body-building. What is your end goal?
I used to purely do body-building. I still believe it is beneficial in terms of aesthetics and getting you stronger and looking good, but in terms of overall fitness and health, I have moved into cross-fit and I think it is more beneficial for me in the long-run. As a trainer, I now preach cross-fit which is performing natural movements at high intensity. It is more about how people feel, their agility, flexibility, endurance, cardio and everything about getting healthy and fit overall.
You introduced your 3-year-old daughter to working out. How old should a child be to be exposed to fitness?
As early as possible. It is a monkey see, monkey do situation. If children see you doing it then they will embrace. I am just exposing her into the possibility to see if she enjoys it but I would definitely like her to make it a part of her lifestyle as she grows up. For her to know that she needs to embrace fitness to be stronger, fit and healthy. If she takes it up as a career, I’ll be happy; I will support her in whatever she would like to do.
Does she enjoy it?
She loves it. She is always doing pushups in the house, squats, high knees, asks to be helped to do handstand pushups, and telling me ‘let’s go to the gym,’ ‘let’s exercise,’ she knows the exercises by name and loves it.
Fitness seems to be a whole mystery that is yet to be unraveled here in Kenya. Have you thought of writing a book?
I have thought of writing a book but not about fitness. Perhaps about my journey, experiences, achievements, downfalls and just help someone looking to get into the industry here as it is different from abroad.
What are some of the downfalls you would like to highlight in the book?
You might have to wait for the book. But I wouldn’t say downfalls but rather learning curves about fitness in general. For instance, it’s not easy sensitising people. Majority of people think if they lift weights they are going to look like the guy on the supplement cover. People do not yet value fitness as should be and changing mindsets is not easy. However, I still enjoy it.
You have a tattoo, what does it signify in your life?
Initially it was just art then afterwards, it tells a story. The shoulder to the elbow is that of my past then from then on will be that of my future. It is not finished yet. It is about my past lifestyle before fitness. A lot of drinking, smoking, partying and fighting which I moved away from to family and fitness. I wasted a lot of money on drinking which then led to fights and three near-death drunk driving accidents and I was the one driving all three times but all passengers with me escaped without injuries. That was my turning point.
How do you unwind, especially because working out is your job?
I like having a beer over the weekend and chilling or go for lunch with my daughter and fiancé. Sometimes, I’d go for a morning run then go swim or just stretch. I still enjoy unwinding with fitness, I take my rest days as active rest days with movement as it helps me recover better.