I arrived in Uganda in 2013 on a health sabbatical following a year long battle with a bone disease. During this year I had for the first time in my life began “gymming.” I had always been active playing sports, basketball, soccer, skiing, swimming, tennis. So, no matter the season, I always found a way to remain relatively fit. Don’t get me wrong, I had often joined gyms, but after relatively few sessions my membership would go unused and I would eventually cancel it, frustrated with myself for a lack of discipline. It wasn’t until I was 45 that I finally found a gym that I stuck with.
When I arrived in Uganda I found a community hungry for fitness, and particularly motivated to exercise in the company of others. The MTN Marathon was a massive event, as was the Kabaka’s Run, aerobics and Zumba classes were booming and on Sunday morning seeing large groups of people running the hills across Kampala was a common sight. Even supplement companies were doing good business as more and more people seemed to be becoming aware of the many joys and values of training.
Yet, when I entered the gyms that littered every community in Kampala I was struck by how far behind we were in our definition of fitness, and how lacking the gyms were in both equipment and qualified personnel. Every gym, from the most expensive ones in Kampala’s elite hotels to the little neighborhood gyms tucked behind a shops along every street looked the same, outdated. Even the classes, while full of energy and enthusiasm, significantly lacked purpose and educated programming. Even as a relative novice to gyms I could see we were decades behind in our understanding and the opportunities we provided to clients.
I looked and looked for a gym similar to the one that finally motivated me to stick with regular fitness training and it was nowhere. I began to recognize what was missing and what made the gym I had grown attached to so special. I recognized three things were missing: modern training equipment, knowledgeable trainers, and community.
Every gym was filled with machines, a few dumbbells, and maybe a barbell or two, alongside some treadmills, elliptical trainers and stationary bikes. It reminded me very quickly of why I so quickly lost interest in every gym I had ever joined.
The trainers were remarkably unqualified and mostly very unprofessional. The were, by and large, very attractive and fit but mostly a product of youth, genetics and some discipline toward pumping iron. However, their knowledge of training techniques, nutrition, and most of the components of “functional fitness” was not existent. To top it off, they only seemed interested in giving support to a few friends and anyone willing to put some extra money in their pocket. The classes were all aerobics and Zumba, and some cycling; nothing with any type of resistance based activities.
Finally there was no community. As I stated the trainers only acknowledged the presence of a few individuals, people in the gym were expected to come in with their own program and know how to do exercises properly, and it was every man for himself. (Women were rarely seen)
I quickly realized that what had attracted me to my gym was the support I got from the trainers, the attention they gave me, their knowledge of both fitness and nutrition, and the way they were able to create a community where, no matter your fitness level, the others in the gym helped, supported, and encouraged your progress. Whenever I entered I knew I would not only have someone to create a program for me that day, but I’d also have at least one person, usually more, who would join me in whatever activities I was doing. It was that community of trainers and fellow clients that kept me excited about coming back each day. Additionally, the workouts we did never seemed repetitive or boring.
Between weighted balls, resistance bands, body weight exercises, dumbbells, kettle bells, barbells and a small handful of machines I could have a different set of exercises every day for a month. Even when we cycled back to the same muscle groups or movements the equipment would be different. On top of this the trainers’ knowledge of nutrition was ultimately as valuable as anything they knew about fitness training.
As we set out to design a gym for Kampala, we kept these components in mind and are constantly striving to learn more about fitness, nutrition, our clients and our community. I am very confident we have the most educated and qualified trainers in the region, the most complete and diverse range of equipment, and the most welcoming and supportive community you will find at any gym in the region.
Our classes are all resistance based, as is all of the equipment in our cardio corner. We hope you will enjoy the MetaFit Community as much as we do. We welcome your suggestions on how we can improve your experience, whether it’s better costumer service, different equipment, a class you’d like to see, or whatever else would make your time with us more enjoyable and rewarding. Please let us know worthier personally or anonymously.
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Interested in teaching a class, or bringing your workout community to MetaFit? Please Contact Us.
Strength & Conditioning
Professional Athelete, Mobility Trainer
Kami (Kamya Mable)
ABS & ASS Trainer