Loud music from Great Gym at the Segerea petrol station catches your attention from as far as the bus stop, less than a hundred metres away.
The music gets louder as one gets closer to the gym located in a storey building at the petrol station.
An aerobic workout session was in progress when I visited recently and from outside, I could see people sweating it out through the glass wall.
At the reception, the receptionist was busy registering names of people entering the gym. Several neatly-arranged water cartons and towels hanging on a clothes rack next to a weigh scale were all ready for use.
People in Dar es Salaam and other urban centres are changing their lifestyle by minding what they eat and exercising.
Gone are the days, where exercise used to be viewed as a thing for sports people only. The trend has changed as now people are exercising for various reasons. Some do so to just keep fit, others exercise to lose weight, keep in shape and some do so for health reasons.
There recently has been a mushrooming of gyms to cater for the rising trend. While some people prefer dropping a sweat at the gym, others exercise on their own or in groups in the streets or at play grounds.
Even at workplaces, employers are slowly realising the importance of exercise for their employees hence introducing fitness centres.
Jamal Kishuli,23, a University of Dar es Salaam graduate enjoys exercising outdoors. Apart from getting fresh air, exercising in open spaces helps him catch up with colleagues and serves as an opportunity to share ideas on job hunting.
Keeping fit and losing weight
Kelvin Mawala, 32, a gym instructor at Kevoo gym located in Kimanga area says, people enrol at the gym for different reasons, a majority aiming at losing weight. Some do so as a hobby and a few as a way to help them gain weight. Kevoo has been working as an instructor for the past five years now.
He charges Sh2,000 per day per person at his gym which enrols more than 30 members at times. Not all the members, mostly workers attend daily, which he attributes to tight work schedules.
Kelvin’s gym is well equipped with exercise machines such as treadmills, stationary bicycles, abdominal crunchers, aerobic steppers and many more.
“Exercising has never been easy for anyone especially for the beginners. It is even worse for those who are forced by circumstances, like having to lose weight for health reasons and those with lifestyle diseases,” says Kelvin.
According to him, many people fail to accomplish their mission because they do not follow instructions given by the instructors and their doctors. In order to achieve one’s goals, Kelvin advises a change in lifestyle. This includes eating and drinking healthy as well as doing regular and right exercises.
Joyce Jacob,34, a mother of two has been exercising at Kevoo gym for the past four years now. She joined to keep in shape after she started gaining weight.
When she weighed at the gym after she enrolled, she was shocked and annoyed when the arrow on the scale hit at 116kgs. She was given an exercising routine and was advised on diet to help her shed the excess kilos.
“It was not easy in the beginning. My body used to hurt due to exercise and I would feel like quitting but thank God I did not. I met some other ladies at the gym with the same goal as mine and we walked the journey together,” says Joyce.
When she started, sometimes Joyce would only manage two out of the six exercise sets she was required to do at the gym. She gradually gained the momentum and managed to shed a whole 40kgs in two years.
Joyce who now weighs 76kgs feels great and happier. She now exercises three times a week only to keep the weight off.
Amana hospital’s Dr Tarimo Msuya says the rising working out trend is a result of lifestyle change which he says is a good thing. The doctor says the majority of people are jumping onto the exercise bandwagon to avoid non-communicable diseases.
They are exercising to beat obesity which is brought about by a sedentary lifestyle. Dr Msuya says it is important for people to exercise as a way of improving their quality of life and reducing the risk of lifestyle diseases.
He says cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes are among diseases that can be avoided through exercise. However he insists that physical exercise alone is not a solution for obesity like many believe. Diet is what matters here.
“People fail to differentiate between being overweight and lack of exercise. In reality exercising reduces the risk of heart disease and does not have anything to do with weight loss,” says Dr Msuya.
Israel Malekano,43, a hotelier is among those who associate overweight with a lack of exercise. He joined the gym at his office thinking it was the solution to his weight problem. Two months into and the results were not good. Disappointed, he decided to visit his doctor who advised him on a diet to follow.
He followed the doctor’s advice and in a year’s time, his weight dropped from 98kgs to 88kgs. Although he is happier now, Malekano is still struggling to lose another 13kgs. His desired weight is 75kgs.
Zagamba Stanford is an instructor at Her Fitness Gym in Manyanya, Kinondoni, says a majority of his clients enrol to the gym without even consulting their doctors on what exactly they should not eat or drink to lose weight on top of exercising.
His gym with more than 50 members enrols more than 5 new members each month at a Sh120,000 a month fee.
According to Zagamba, most people make a mistake by not drinking enough water which is a requirement before exercising. Water prevents dehydration. It is recommended to drink three glasses of water three hours before a workout.
“During exercise people lose a lot of water. And if one is to exercise for more than one hour, it is important for them to use sport drinks for energy,” says Zagamba.