As of 2009, only 9% of Kenyans were obese but as of 2013, 20% were battling with the problem. You can imagine how the number has risen by now.
According to the World Health Organization, being overweight and obesity is linked to more deaths globally than being underweight. Some of the lifestyle diseases associated with obesity include diabetes, with the International Diabetes Federation reporting that about 15.5 million adults aged between 20-79 years are living with the disease.
In Africa, statistics show that 60% of South Africans are overweight, hence the reason why the country has the largest density of gyms and health clubs in Africa. Kenya and Nigeria are also key markets for this industry.
In recent years, there has been a rise of health and fitness influencers in Kenya , with the one name standing out the most being US based Kenyan award-winning body transformation coach Jane Mukami.
She has transformed the bodies of over 21,000 women in just 5 years, thanks to the power of social media.
Jane’s mission is to help women reclaim their lives by waking up filled with energy, fitting back in skinny jeans or favorite outfits, loving what they see in the mirror and being the best versions of themselves so they can show up fully and lead a better quality of life.
With over 318,000 women in her free, women only, health and fitness Facebook community, and over 668,000 Facebook members in her combined communities. She is leveraging her tech skills and the power of social media to impact and transform lives around the globe.
We sat down with her to get to understand career journey and what her latest grand website launch is all about.
Harun: Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Jane: Not at all! 6 years ago had you told me that I would have a business in health and fitness I would have thought you were crazy! Being an entrepreneur was not something I ever considered. I always assumed I would work in corporate america, rise through the ranks to a senior executive position.
H: When you started out, after quitting your corporate job in the tech industry, it must have been a daunting decision. What do you feel are some of the best business decisions you have made over the years that put you ahead of your counterparts?
J: In 2011, I noticed an increase in engagement of my social media posts. At this time, I had gone through my own weight loss transformation and was a body- builder. Some of the things I did that I believe have worked out my advantage are market research, providing value, becoming an authority as well as my educational background. I have a degree in Computer Information Systems and 18 years working in tech.
Quitting a successful 18 year career In Technology to pursue my passion was a tough and uncomfortable decision. As an entrepreneur, you work long tireless hours trying to make things work and getting recognized is an affirmation that you’re on the right path.
H: You were honoured among the Top 100 Women in Africa by OkayAfrica in 2018. That must have been a major milestone in your professional career. Would you mind telling us how the nomination came to be?
J: Awards are great motivators! Being recognized for what I do makes me want to do even more and the best way possible. Mid-January 2018, I had just gotten back to the US after spending six weeks in Kenya. I was going through my inbox and came across a final notification email that informed me of my nomination. This same email stated that they had been trying to contact me for 8 weeks and if I didn’t respond, my nomination would be given to someone else. I called the phone number quickly to find out what this was all about and how I got the nomination. They explained that my name had been submitted in October 2017 and that judges picked the final nominees in November, and I made the cut. It was something that happened without me knowing and I was totally honored and humbled to be part of such a prestigious list.
H: Which one do you think is the most profound body transformation case that you have handled so far? Which were the results?
J: There’s one where a woman was really desperate to lose weight. She just needed help. When I told her how much I charge, she had a choice. She could either pay me or taking the money and making a down payment for a new car that she had saved up for. Her goal for January 2019 was to buy a new car but she trusted me. I worked with her for three months and her life literally changed. It was not just her losing weight, being confident and happy. She has become somebody different…received promotions at work…her bosses have noticed the change and how productive she is. She is now in leadership coaching in her organization. She’s lost 25 kilos, her job is reaping benefits, and her life…literally everything about her has changed. Body transformation is indeed life transformation
H: Most fitness influencers across Africa are not certified like you are. Why did you deem it necessary to get the certifications you have?
J: I have invested a lot of time and money to get education in the areas of health and fitness. I had 6 years worth of knowledge and experience in health and fitness before I decided that I would get into the industry. I began investing time and money to get the best certifications that I could get back in 2014 because credentials show that you know what you are talking about.
I recently graduated from Health Coach Institute where I learned not only about nutrition, and coaching but also got to learn from doctors who specialise in managing heart disease, diabetes and weight loss through lifestyle medicine.
Education is not something that you do one time and you’re done, especially in my field, I have to keep learning to keep up with new information in this Industry. Anyone can get certified but not everyone can deliver results. Experience and passion play a big part in making business a success.
H: What are some of the business dynamics you’ve personally experienced over the course of your career?
J: Indeed, the online business and fitness industry are fast paced and change over time. 8 short years ago, Facebook was the largest social media platform, then came Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat - It can be overwhelming as an entrepreneur figuring out what platform to use and how to stand out or differentiate yourself from all the social media ‘noise’.
As an entrepreneur the key is identifying your target market, where they hang out on social media , focus on identifying their needs and provide a solution. 5 years ago when I started my business thanks to Facebook, I created the 10 day detox digital product to serve clients who were in need of a weight loss jump start.
Overtime, my business has grown and evolved from simple digital products to services including my signature body transformation program known as The P.U.S.H. Weight Loss Method where I coach women, help them lose weight and teach them how to create sustainable habits for a lifestyle change. The ‘P’ stands for purge unhealthy foods. ‘U’ stands for upgrade quality of nutrition and ‘S’ stands for structured eating while ‘H’ stands for hack the metabolism.
H: Most of your clients come from Africa - your home country in Kenya, yet you are based in Atlanta. Why is this the case? Why Africa?
J: My own weight loss journey in 2008 and in 2010 I got into bodybuilding. During this time, I discovered my passion for health and fitness. I started getting a lot of attention on social media, comments and feedback from my Kenyan people.
Here in the US, being a female bodybuilder is no big deal. In Kenya, not so much. I was the first woman to make fitness and hard core working out look cool. Before I knew it, I was getting a lot of features in newspapers, magazines, TV & radio interviews.
My following grew organically from Kenyans. When I decided to get into business six years ago, my base was already built. My clients are from all over the world with a good number being African. My focus is global, but I have a huge footprint in the African continent.