Whereas many businesses in Nigeria and elsewhere have either gone under or are struggling to remain afloat as a result of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic, Jane Amuta, a former staff of Fidelity Bank, who now runs FIT Gym, Salons and Spa- a state-of-the-art health and wellness facility- located in upscale Magodo GRA in Ikeja, Lagos, says it has not been a totally negative story for her business.
She told BDSUNDAY that with gyms and personal care facilities closed for two month plus, she has discovered the immense potentials in the digital world.
Although she has been delivering her workout and counseling sessions online at no charge all through the lockdown period, she sees the digital medium as a new frontier for businesses that do not require constant physical contact. She is now able to reach a wider constituency in the areas of fitness and nutritional counseling.
“People can avoid traffic hassles and still meet their fitness goals through our online classes while those in proximity can come and use the gym…Unfortunately, you cannot get a haircut, a pedicure or spa therapy through your smart phone,” she said.
The CEO, FIT Magodo said that throughout the Covid-19 lockdown period in Lagos, she ran a free online fitness programme on Instagram Live at 7.15 every morning.
According to her, “Thousands of enthusiasts joined the classes on @bodybyjane from across the globe for a 40-60-minute workout session. This is usually followed by online and telephone counseling tips on healthy living, dieting and general wellness with our clients and followers. These sessions are marked by lively exchanges between me and our numerous followers, fans, clients and enthusiasts.”
“In fact, they reached out to us from across the globe. While our followers and fans in Africa and continental Europe found the morning sessions convenient, some in faraway places like Canada and the United States braved the unusual hours to join the sessions. At other times, they playback Instagram videos of the workout sessions just to catch up on the day’s routines,” she said further.
On how her journey into the fitness and healthy living industry began, she said it was initially mere “passion” that metamorphosed into a thriving business for her.
“Looking back now, my dream for the business started as far back as my NYSC days in Okene, Kogi State when I used to assemble fellow corps members into fitness squads and took them for morning runs as a way of encouraging them to share my passion for fitness. Even when I took up banking as a career, I continued with my fitness routines in gyms after work and on weekends,” she recalled with excitement.
Six years ago, she decided to venture into private business as a fitness, health and beauty entrepreneur. Today, FIT Magodo, a one-stop superstore for health and wellness enthusiasts, has become a leading brand in the industry.
Amuta has a holistic approach to fitness, health and wellness: “The essence of health is all what you do without needing to see a doctor. If you keep fit through regular exercise and maintain a healthy diet, your chances of living a healthy life are improved greatly.”
To ensure that her clients do not have to go wandering in search of aspects of a healthy living, she has conceived FIT Magodo as an integrated world class facility. There is a well-equipped gym, a professional spa, a nail studio, hair salons for women, men and children as well as a café dedicated exclusively to a healthy food culture.
One segment of her clientele particularly excites her. This is her customised fitness training programmes for several celebrities- in the music and entertainment industry. For her, this is a cultural and generational challenge. She believes that the cult of celebrity is mostly an image one. “You cannot be a celebrity when you are out of shape. It goes with great discipline… You have to train hard and eat right to fit into the right roles. There is no short cut,” she said emphatically.
The appeal of her facilities for her celebrity clients is the high premium she places on their privacy.
As an entrepreneur in the small to medium enterprise bracket, her outfit employs close to 30 young Nigerians ranging from certified gym trainers to hair stylists, nail technicians and spa therapists and professional chefs. She treats her work force as family but insists on near military discipline in the work place. She insists that the Nigerian work force can compete with their peers anywhere else if given the incentives, work environment and necessary training.
She is quick to admit the challenges of entrepreneurship in the Nigerian business environment.
“For an industry that requires power supply 24/7, the energy cost can be a challenge. There is also the difficulty of capital support by the banking sector which is usually reluctant to extend support to new sectors outside trading, manufacturing and, of late, agriculture. Nonetheless, my passion for what I do has sustained my enterprise over the years with the loyalty of our patrons,” she said.
On how she surmounts the challenges, she proudly said: “When you enjoy what you do for a living, the challenge becomes exciting.”
She is also able to sustain and expand her client base by insisting on best practices and international standards in an industry that prides itself in professionalism, hygiene and commitment to customer satisfaction.