Zainab Masera Uwimana is a fitness trainer at Soho Fitness in Kicukiro, Kigali, which she co-owns. She is also personal trainer. The 32-year-old had a chat with Women Today’s Sharon Kantengwa on why she is passionate about fitness.
How did you get into fitness training?
When I was young I had a big body but I lost a lot of weight as I grew older due to a bad appetite. In the quest to get my appetite back, my boyfriend advised me to do sports and I started gaining more weight. While others joined gym to lose weight I wanted to gain weight in a healthy way. When I started working out, I remember that I was the only girl among men in the gym.
Once I saw how fitness had changed my lifestyle, it became my passion and I decided to partner with two of my other colleagues to open up a fitness centre.
What do you like about your job?
Once you feel good about your body, you can do anything to maintain it. It always starts with the mind and eventually becomes a lifestyle. That is why I don’t get tired when conducting my classes because when you commit to something you love and it also pays your bills, it comes easy.
I really enjoy sharing this healthy lifestyle with other people, especially girls, and motivate them to work harder because sports is therapy to stress and other illnesses. Many people use a lot of money to look young but the easiest and natural way is to eat right and exercise.
As a graduate working as a full-time fitness trainer, do you ever feel like your job is not fulfilling?
I studied tourism and environment at university in the DR Congo, but I have done jobs that are not related to my line of study. I, however, feel like fitness training is in line with what I studied because I tackle topics like energy and what we eat, which are all related to environment.
What challenges have you faced in your field of work?
I often get questions and comments like “will you get married?” “No African man can marry you with such a macho body.” All these comments tell me the misconceptions people still have about fitness training but that hasn’t stopped me from pursuing my passion.
What are your career goals?
My goal is to keep working out my whole life to keep fit and healthy. I also want to help women to feel like this routine should be part of their lives despite their busy schedules. Fitness can be therapy to their stress and reshape their lives. Fitness shouldn’t be about looking good in dresses for the ladies but also about their health.
I also believe that it is never too late for everyone to begin thinking of their health and doing something to maintain it.