By Wisdom Nwachukwu-Ohaegbule
i-Fitness, said to be West Africa’s first and fastest growing fitness chain, has just opened in Port Harcourt.
The company is said to have committed N1.2Bn in investment to make fitness a business of choice in Port Harcourt.
The Port Harcourt investment is coming in three centres with the first in Trans-Amadi area which opened Saturday, February 18, 2023.
The new PH Centre is currently the largest fitness center in Nigeria sitting on an acre of land with internal space is 1,650sqm as well as an outdoor gym space of 120sqm.
The technical details were made available by the founder and chief executive officer (CEO), Foluso Ogunwale. The centre has an array of cardio and strength training equipment and standard changing rooms.
At the opening ceremony on Saturday, February 18, 2023, it was revealed that members of i-Fitness Centre have their subscription managed on a mobile app which grants them access to several other branches of i-Fitness both in and out of Port Harcourt. Some of the members interviewed said this was why they were attracted to the centre located opposite the former offices of the Greater PH City in Trans-Amadi.
The Port Harcourt branch is the 19th of I-Fitness. The 20th is to open by the end of February 2023. The CEO said the number would go up to 26 branches by end of 2023.
Interview with CEO, Foluso Ogunwale
The CEO is a serial entrepreneur who has gathered seven years’ experience in Sales/Marketing and HR with Skye Bank Plc (from 2007 to 2013) before commencing his entrepreneurial journey. He spoke with newsmen t the unveiling of the centre in Trans-Amadi, Port Harcourt. Silver News Online was there…..
Fitness programme must be common and affordable
I-Fitness is West Africa’s fasted growing fitness business chain. It is built to promote a culture of healthy living.
The idea is to make fitness common and affordable. It is also to make it close to work and close to home so people can imbibe the fitness culture and touch thousands of lives.
We started since the business in 2015 and this is our 19th branch and the 20th is coming month.
World class equipment
We have an array of equipment and registration is simple and straightforward because it is about convenience and affordability.
We do not want stress for people joining. We are tech-driven so that fitness is effortless for people. We deliberately care for multi-locational access. We work hard to make it available so anywhere you travel to in Nigeria and soon in West Africa, you get access, you get access just by same membership registration.
We take very good care of our trainers and we keenly exercise discipline and diligence in their selection and training. They are pure professionals with all kinds of certifications. They are there to guide and coach each client. Thus, if you want extra service, a person personal trainer will be attached to you. Safety within the gym is guaranteed against accidents.
The future will meet us first in Ghana
For Port Harcourt, we are deploying three fitness centres, staring from this one in Trans-Amadi. Going further, by end of this year, we would be in six more locations in Nigeria. By 2024, we start going to West African cities starting with Ghana.
The key thing with this brand is that we are on a mission to make it common and affordable. One centre in Port Harcourt may not be enough because for someone that is far from this centre, how do we bring fitness closer to their location. That is why two more are coming.
In 24 months, Port Harcourt will be able to enjoy two more facilities. That cannot be less than N1.2Bn investment in Port Harcourt.
The “I” in I-Fitness stands for the individual. That comes from the logic that you cannot delegate your fitness to anyone else, no matter how busy you are. You cannot delegate it to your relation, friend, or personal assistant. No. It is for every individual.
The conviction to invest in fitness: Before now, I was in a training business, a banker, then trainer. This is the first venture I am doing that is really touching lives. We say, what value would you put on someone’s life; is it N10m, N100m, or what. It is wholesome. You cannot quantify it.
That is why we pay attention in touching lives. If you touch one life, you have added value that cannot be quantified. One life can touch one hundred thousand lives.
Health of one person touches many
The business of health touches not just the person but touches everyone that is connected to that person. The moment you are not in good health, many other things around you suffer; kids, wife, your downline, etc.
So, we have built this around making sure that we touch lives in a way that matters much. That gives us true inspiration.
We have crossed funding crisis stage
Many ask us how banks and financiers respond to fitness businesses. We say we have crossed that stage. The industry is very easy now, for us. A lot of people do not understand the industry, but because we have been there for eight years, we have crossed that huddle.
If anybody is looking at I-Fitness today, he will find it’s no more a local business. It’s an international brand. Now, we mirror best practices in the industry. That alone has taken us away from that box where we were scratching for funds. We have got to a stage where people can now see track, and if there was no track, we would not be on number 19, and going to 20 in two weeks.
That will be so as we gain confidence to engage anyone and get necessary funding we need to propel the business.
Why people should spend on fitness
Some wonder if it is easy to get people to spend on fitness the same way they spend in education, food, clothes. We have always said that the cost of health is in a state you cannot estimate. What would you say it will cost you to have good kidney, liver, heart, etc.
Cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer in non-communicable diseases around the world, about 80m per year. That is enormous.
The amount anyone is paying to be fit and be in enabling environment for fitness is so little compared to ill-health. The price to pay to gain access here, to this kind of facilities is considered little. The facility is world class.
Nonetheless, we feel that the cost of having good health is enormous. Anything that allows us to be in good health is an advantage. You pay monthly or a quarter. If you shut down, everything shuts down.
Bonanza rate in PH
Yes, we ran a promo and gave membership at half the price. Now, we are only offering discount. Joining in PH is also admitting you to our other facilities. It also gives you access to a social circle, to connections, meeting people, new relationships, friends, network. It’s not just access to machines.
We have found that this kind of environment also builds good relationships. Going to a gym is more regular than going to other social gatherings. It gives business connections and mutually enduring relationships. The value is more than the money. It’s access to a new community that potentially changes lives
Size of our clientele is in tens of thousands in Nigeria alone.