NAIROBI, Kenya — When Taii Odero, 37, started working as a gym trainer in Nairobi while pursuing a medical degree at the University of Nairobi between 2004 and 2008, little did he imagine that it would lead to a successful fitness business a few years down the line.
“It was a side hustle I enjoyed immensely and with time decided to do it full time,” he told Zenger News.
Odero said he pursued medicine out of peer pressure.
“I grew up in an environment where people were competing about who pursued the most ‘respected’ profession, and that was how I ended up studying medicine, but my heart was into fitness.”
Like most parents who would rather their kids pursue medicine, his parents were against him taking fitness as a career.
In 2008, the Grant Government Medical College in Mumbai, India, awarded him a scholarship to specialize in gynecology between 2009 and 2011.
The journey towards monetizing his fitness passion started with boot camps at Nairobi’s Arboretum, where he trained clients as a young medical student.
“Each client paid me Sh150 [$1.39] per session, but my profit was only Sh50 [$0.46] as the rest covered the entrance fee of the venue.”
Today Odero runs Authentic Fitness and Adventure, a company that organizes safaris throughout Kenya. He also does car rentals and hotel reservations for clients.
“I love traveling, and I was glad to turn my passion into a profitable business, so I officially registered it in 2018. I wake up at 3 a.m. to research new trends in my industry to give my clients a better experience and stay on top of my game.”
Odero said he hated the routine that comes with formal employment and the unpredictable schedule of a doctor.
“I realized I did not want to practice medicine when my first corporate job paid me about ten times what I was getting at the boot camps, which are one-day team-building jobs.”
He says that he founded Authentic Fitness and Adventure on the backbone of health and adventure.
“Fitness is an integral part of staying healthy, and that is why we are keen on the health of our clients. Before we allow them to hike hills with us, we check their Body Mass Index first. We also have a fitness session with our clients before any of our activities. If an individual is not up to the task, we do not allow them to join in the hikes.”
Clients fill a health questionnaire before climbing or hiking to verify they are fit for the strenuous exercise.
Authentic Fitness and Adventures employs 30 people, half of them being drivers, while the other half are in administration. He operates from two offices, one in Nairobi’s central business district and the other in the city’s outskirts.
Rates range from Sh1,000 [$9.26] for day adventures to around Sh5,500 [$50.95] for overnight adventures. However, costs can go as high as Sh10,000 [$92.64] depending on hotel rates and the distance from Nairobi, where all trips commence.
Activities run on weekends when he caters for either group safaris or private groups that could include families or friends.
“We have private bookings every day. We also do team-building activities for corporate organizations and religious institutions. We make sure that our clients adhere to the Covid-19 regulations set by the World Health Organization and the Kenyan government,” he told Zenger News.
Odero said he gained valuable skills in training aerobics, Zumba, and yoga during his stay in India.
He has built a vast network of clientele, some of whom commended him for his work.
Sly Maroma Angili, a banker in Nairobi, said she started traveling with Odero in 2020.
“I find it very therapeutic and a great way to unwind,” Angili told Zenger News.
“But the best part of it is that Taii takes feedback positively and acts on it. He thinks outside the box and listens to what the customer wants.”
Angili, who joins Odero twice a month, said she enjoys the dancing sessions at the start of every adventure.
“Dancing coupled with the adventures keep me fit. Besides meeting new people, these adventures have opened my eyes to the numerous tourist attractions in Kenya.”
Pauline Njeru, a human resource manager at the Embu Water and Sanitation Company in Embu, a town located approximately 78 miles northeast of Nairobi, shared Angili’s sentiments.
“We chose Authentic Adventures for our corporate team building activities in June 2021, and we have no regrets,” she told Zenger News.
She says the management team was grateful for the lessons they learned during the one-day session.
“We were happy that the team from Authentic Adventures recorded the activities of the day and sent us an edited video, a service we had never received from other team building companies.”
Odero encourages more people to jump on the fitness bandwagon since traveling is a stress-reliever, and the networks created during these bonding sessions can last a lifetime.
“Last month, we witnessed two weddings of couples who met during one of our go-carting sessions in 2020. Another wedding is in the pipeline of yet another couple that met during a hike to Ngong Hills. We have also had a few people secure jobs after meeting human resource managers during our activities.”
(Edited by Kipchumba Some and Amrita Das)
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