How 34-year-old American returnee is impacting lives through fitness

For the past year, Imo State-born fitness coach Oluwasegun Uchenna Udeaja remained dedicated to his cause of helping others achieve their fitness goals.

The idea wasn’t a random thought; it has been his lifelong ambition, one he aims to accomplish through owning a fitness centre.

In 2009, he obtained an accounting degree from the University of Ilorin and proceeded to work in the banking sector for four years. He also had a one-year stint with a global automobile company, after which he travelled to the United States, where he obtained various fitness training certifications in Phoenix, Arizona.

While in the U.S, he worked with various fitness centres, developing meal plans for fat loss while also coaching fitness enthusiasts in online and physical classes. As fulfilling as it may sound, he left the U.S. to chart his course in Nigeria. According to Udeaja, “home is where the heart is.” Guided by that thought, he returned to Ikorodu  to set up his fitness studio in 2018.

“I believe we can start building a venture and then move on to have more  branches,” he hinted at his strategic expansion plans. “While in the U.S. I  organised many online coaching programmes. I sold meal plans, too. Currently, I am holding an online programme which started on April 1. What brought me back to Nigeria was the inherent drive to set up my fitness studio, impact lives, and become a professional in the fitness world,” Udeaja revealed.

On his return to Nigeria, the journey to achieving his dreams turned out to be much harder than he had anticipated, especially after losing a piece of land to another buyer who easily could afford it. He secured another parcel of land over time, which now houses the pop-up gym, ForeverLiving Wellness and Fitness Centre, located on Federal Housing Estate Ground, Igbogbo Bayeku Road Ikorodu.

The fitness centre’s launch coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown that accompanied it. As COVID-19 measures began to ease, Udeaja started wooing gym-goers and potential members to the open space with a free gym membership. Although it attracted many people,  this model changed after a while to help the outfit gain a footing. It shifted gears and started charging members at a reasonable price.

“When we launched the fitness centre, I just wanted to make an awareness campaign to make our intentions known. This was  during the pandemic. Before now, I have worked in many gym centres, but I started mine during the COVID-19 period when the economy shut down with no money anywhere. So we started it as a free project to let people in the community grasp an understanding of fitness. Eventually, we started receiving payments from our clients.”

The business model adopted, according to Udeaja, was to help people attain their fitness goals without necessarily worrying about cost or location. But Udeaja could only do much. Then the challenges followed.

Due to the low revenue and the dire need to stock the gym with much-needed equipment, Udeaja’s staff strength reduced. The clients didn’t make it easy either. Their numbers waned.

“Some people, after they get their fitness results, they leave and never come back again, but in the next three months when you see them, they have gained back all the weight they lost. Some of the members who started with us at the inception are still with us till now. They don’t miss their classes as well. Generally, the new members are more constant than the old members. And we get a lot of people these days. I have instructed about 150 people in one day, in one class.”

Subsequently, conditions improved for the founder of the fitness centre. News of his good works reached the team at Betway Nigeria, a leading sports betting platform team. Through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, they donated much-needed gym equipment towards improving services and attracting more people to maintain a healthy life by working out and adopting meal plans essential to longevity.

Augmenting the services provided at ForeverLiving Wellness and Fitness Centre, the brand donated squat racks, treadmills, dumbbells and dumbbell racks, kettlebells, battle ropes, sit-up benches, weight bench set, stability balls, amongst others.

“I appreciate the incentive from the Betway team. It is a great programme. The items they have donated will go a long way in helping me actualise the dream of impacting my community through fitness. The tools handed me now goes beyond what anyone can realise at the moment. It is what will change the lives of people in years to come,” Udeaja said in his vote of thanks after the handing over ceremony that was held on the grounds of the pop-up gym.