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Is GYM a Worthy Investment, This is What You Need to Know

With many people wishing to keep fit, a gym business is a lucrative venture with less competition. There are very few gymnasiums and the demand is high.

Many people working in offices have less time to exercise and they prefer to drop at your gym in the evening when they leave their workplaces.

Laban Okemwa, a gym owner in Nairobi’s Karen estate had not really thought of investing in a fitness space until his customers got stranded.

“Three years ago, one of the gyms I was working with closed leaving me stranded with the clients I was training. I had to think fast not to lose them and I rented a small room at Hardy, Karen area,” says the 40-year-old.

He then started investing in a bigger space that he named ‘Laban’s Gym’. The fitness trainer says that a gym is a worthy investment though as an entrepreneur, it does not pay off at first.

“Exercising has taught me to be resilient and I have watched the gym grow. The equipment is quite expensive so I started off slowly and gradually build on it,” he says.

Physical fitness was not his first career choice because he wanted to study medicine but he did not qualify.

Being a physical fitness fanatic, one time he got an opportunity of step in for a trainer in a gym, an experience that excited him.

He later decided to train at Bodywise Health Club. With 20 years in the fitness industry, he has worked at the Karen Country Club for nine years, at Serena Hotel gym and as a freelance trainer in different gyms in Nairobi.

At his gym, two trainers assist him and Jonah Tuyishime, a 31-year-old is one of them.

Jonah, a Bachelor of Arts (Sociology and Psychology) graduate started fitness training in his second year in university. “My passion for sports and athletes began in my earlier days when I was still in primary school,” explains Jonah.

“Today, I’m a fitness consultant, which means that beyond training, I will advise on basic nutrition, sports, psychology and will also link customers up with a nutritionist and physiotherapist on a need-to basis,” he says.

Jonah says he realized there was a gap in the fitness industry in Kenya as most of the trainers were only focused on exercises.

“Exercising is superficial. This means it is designed for the body to enhance your look. How and what you eat is the bottom-line. You cannot go to the gym, eat the wrong foods and expect to see any change,” says Jonah.

“Knowing what to eat, how to eat it, cooking method and when to eat is ultimately the backbone of a healthy body.”

With a number of gyms popping up almost everywhere in the city, Laban says investors have to ensure that they stay on top of the game and keep with fitness trends.

He is a member of Idea Health and Fitness Association that brings together fitness instructors, club and studio owners to learn everything from healthy diets to new workouts.

Laban says gym membership has grown over the years compared to 10 years ago.

“Both men and women come to the gym because they want to look good. Everyone wants a well-sculptured toned body. However, in most facilities, the number of women outnumbers men. This is because men prefer to engage more in outdoor activities,” he says.

“Even me when I get bored, I incorporate cross-training, marathon, hiking or swimming,” he says.

Jonah Tuyishime, a trainer in general fitness shares some of these trends in the fitness industry:


Women love Zumba and it has been slowly gaining popularity in recent years. This could be attributed to the fact that it is a fun way of keeping fit as it is dance.

*Martial Arts*

Women are enrolling more for martial arts classes, especially self-defence. Most prefer kick-boxing, karate and taekwondo.

*Lifestyle changes*

Currently, there is a high influx of people that want to lose weight due to increased awareness of the importance of staying healthy.

*Age groups*

Most senior citizens are enrolling in gyms on doctor’s advise.

However, the— 20 to 40 year-olds go to gyms for a healthier lifestyle. They look up TV celebrities who motivate them to be lean.

*Personal goals*

Some people are not necessarily interested in losing weight; some just want a well sculptured body.

Generally, men are more into building their bodies and looking more masculine while women are more about losing weight and looking curvier.

The first thing most women want is to lose the belly. The fitness trainer advises people not to get into training to lose weight.

“When losing weight is your ultimate goal, you will stop training as soon as you achieve it. Rather make training a lifestyle to continue reaping the benefits of overall health, which include; cardiovascular, respiratory, better coordination and strong bones,” he notes.

The cost of starting a gym in Kenya depends with your business size and location. To start a medium gym business, you need to invest around Ksh.500,000. Gym business requires sophisticated equipment and a lot of space that translates to higher rent. You should get gym equipment from a reliable supplier and request a discount.

You need to ensure that your gym business complies with government regulations. As such, you need to register your business and also get business licenses and permits.

You can acquire the permit from the county offices or municipal council offices. A single business permit for a gym business in Kenya goes for Ksh.5,000 annually.

Once you have a business permit, you then need to equip your gym. You need to have the following equipment.

• Training bench
• Dumbbell set
• Barbell set
• Kettlebell set
• Treadmill
• Stationary bicycle
• Rowing machine
• Fitness ball

Depending on the type of gym you want to set up, you may need extra space. For instance, if you will be offering yoga and aerobics, you need a bigger space.

The gum business requires high startup capital and you can incur huge losses in case of fire, or theft. As such, you need to get a reputable insurance company to insure your business. Getting comprehensive cover is the best idea to insure even your clients.

You need to identify a good business location for your business. The place should be easily accessible and secure. It should be conducive and should not have lots of noise.

A gym business in Kenya can succeed in places with high foot traffic, near residential homes and high-income areas.

Once you have established your business, you need to look for customers. You can advertise your business in different easy like through a word of mouth, fliers and signage.

You also need a lot of online presence, like through social Media. You can create a Facebook page and a profile on Twitter and Instagram. Take photos of your gym and post them on your social media platforms. It would be best if you have a website and list the services you offer, your location and contact details.

If you get a good business location with a high customer influx, the gym business is a profitable venture. You also need to set fair prices for your customers and also ones that will give you profits. With time and as your business gets more customers, you will be in a position to generate significant revenues.


Starting a gym business in Kenya is a profitable venture. With a good business location, marketing and excellent customer service, you can easily start a profitable gym business in Kenya. Also, make sure you have the right equipment and trainers to make it in the business.

Written By:
Timothy Angwenyi
Business Consultant

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