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Building West Africa’s fastest growing fitness chain

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Mr Folusho O i Fitness e1698654446111

The African fitness sector is constantly evolving, and the continent is seeing an increase in fitness enthusiasts. Africans are becoming more health-conscious and serious about their fitness.

As a result, the fitness business in Africa is expanding rapidly and is likely to expand more in the future. Traditional African lifestyles have long revolved around physical activities but with the arrival of technology and modernization, this has been altered.

People have become more sedentary, which has increased health problems such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes among others.

However, the narrative has shifted in recent years, and Africans are becoming more interested in living healthy lives.

According to Statista, the total revenue in the health and fitness market in Africa is projected to have reached US$20.25m in 2022.

The total revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate of 7.17%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$29.79m by 2027.

In the ever-evolving landscape of fitness and wellness, one name stands out as a pioneer and trailblazer in West Africa: i-Fitness.

Founded by the visionary entrepreneur, Mr. Foluso Ogunwale, the i-Fitness has grown to become West Africa’s fastest-growing fitness chain, boasting an impressive 21 branches across Nigeria.

As i-Fitness celebrated its 8th anniversary in May this year, we sat down with Mr. Ogunwale and delved into the challenges, triumphs and vision that is shaping i-Fitness into the fitness empire it is becoming.

As with any ambitious endeavour, the early stages of i-Fitness were met with substantial hurdles. With the virtually non-existent nature of the fitness industry in Nigeria a decade ago, i-Fitness was left to forge its path in uncharted territory.

The weight of creating industry standards and overcoming the enormity of the task can be described as revolutionary.

According to the CEO,

Mr. Ogunwale reminisced about the early days when some investors dismissed their vision, only to return ten months later, witnessing the traction and growth that took i-Fitness from its first branch to an impressive network of four.

He mentioned that the realities of doing business in Nigeria involve entrepreneurs often providing their own essential utilities, such as generators and transformers to ensure a steady power supply.

A paramount factor that has contributed significantly to his triumphant journey as an entrepreneur is his insatiable thirst for knowledge and unyielding commitment to learning from accomplished business leaders.

He noted that he immerses himself in the wealth of wisdom found within the pages of business, leadership and entrepreneurial literature, drawing boundless inspiration from seasoned professionals.

Another pivotal practice that has played a significant role in fostering the remarkable growth of the fitness chain is his steadfast dedication to ensuring seamless alignment among the leadership team across all branches of i-Fitness.

As i-Fitness expanded its reach to 21 branches nationwide, the initial challenge of staffing a high-capital-intensive business became greater.

The fitness industry’s specialized demands require access to skilled human capital, which Mr. Ogunwale is addressing by establishing a partnership between the i-Fitness Academy and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) USA.

This initiative empowers i-Fitness to groom and train talent, thus enhancing human capital development in the fitness industry through professional training.

It is in line with the brand’s values and standards. This training also creates a progressive career path for fitness professionals, enabling the advancement of their careers in the chosen area of their profession.

More importantly, fitness professionals and enthusiasts, and all other participants who attend the programmes receive internally recognised certification on completion.

At the recent i-Fitness Academy and NASM partnership launch event, the serial entrepreneur emphasized this by stating,

The fitness chain distinguishes itself by mirroring best practices that other organizations in the industry may overlook.

This innovative approach to maintaining global standards sets them apart from competitors and contributes to a positive work environment that employees find rewarding and fulfilling.

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