Risk-taking and unwavering focus is what distinguishes Mr Ken Kazidi, popularly known as ‘Mwarimu’, from his peers.
After working for six years on a permanent and pensionable job he remembers feeling an irresistible urge to turn his love for gymnastics into a business. So he decided to quit and go it alone.
And with a net monthly income of Sh200,000 a month from his gym in Ruiru town, Mr Kazidi can only look back and a smile with satisfaction.
For the entrepreneur, his love for gymnastics is not only a way of keeping fit and healthy but it is also his employer and as means to a livelihood.
“I like gymnastics and aerobics so in one of my visit an idea struck me to start my own after calculating what I was spending on it every day,” said Mr Kazidi when the Business Daily caught up with him in his premises.
But who would have thought that the gyms that are almost everywhere in the town could be a money-minting, sustainable way to make a living. The proprietor did the math, and it added up.
After working for six years for Teachers Service Commission as a teacher with salary, he says, did not satisfy him, Mr Kazidi decided to walk out of the classroom.
“I tendered my resignation letter and luckily, through a friend, I got another job as a trainer and I took it as way of shoring up my capital and improving my skills,” he says.
He worked for others as a way of marshalling capital and expertise — first as a football coach for a sports organisation in Nairobi for three years, then as a gymnastic trainer at the Safari Park Hotel in the city.
“But even then my mind kept telling me to go it alone. So I kept saving some cash with a view of establishing my own (gym),” he says.
While at Safari Park Hotel as a trainer, Mr Kazidi, a graduate of Moi University, struck a rapport with clients who visited the gym. Little did he know that they would play part in making his long-term dream come true.
“Many clients liked my training and we ended up becoming friends who would later become instrumental to my dream,” he says.
Now armed with Sh150,000 from his savings, skills and experience he had gained, Mr Kazidi decided that gymnastics and training was going to be his main occupation. He has never regretted the decision.
“I said to myself I have been handling more than 50 clients a day why can’t I start with even 10 in my own gym?” he said as he showed us around his place of work.
In July 2011, he rented a hall in Ruiru at Sh50,000 but could not fully equip it. He started off with an equipment that cost Sh80,000. One of his friends he had made at Safari Park donated more facilities.
“He had come to check on me and was impressed by my progress, so he offered to buy me equipment worth Sh200,000,” says Mr Kazidi.
In the first few weeks of operations he got 10 clients who paid Sh200 a session. Today, Mr Kazidi’s Shapefit Gym has equipment worth Sh1 million.
“Due to quality services I offered the clients, they referred others and the word went around and today I receive about 30 clients a day,” said Mr Kazidi.
“On average I make a cool Sh6,000 a day from non registered clients. While registered ones who pay Sh3,500 per month earn me close to Sh100,000.”
Does Mr Kazidi regret leaving employment for the business?
“Gymnastics and aerobics when combined with passion and the necessary capital is highly rewarding,” he said.
From a capital investment of Sh150,000, the father of three is assured of good returns every month. Mr Kazidi plans to buy his own plot and put up a modern gymnastics and aerobics facility.
One may be tempted to say the proprietor has been lucky, going by the kind of rewards most trainers manage to achieve.
But the entrepreneur does not think so. According to him the answer lies in how you offer your services.