On a cool evening, Idrisu is gearing up for his daily workout. Today, he is doing a combination of squats, endurance exercises and boxing routines. He started this new regime a little over a month ago and so far the results have been life changing.
“I started at this gym because I needed to get fit very quickly and I was looking for a gym that could guarantee results at a moderate price,” says Idrisu.
The owner of the gym is entrepreneur Rehia Giwa-Osagie who is determined to get the nation fit again through boxing. Osagie is the founder of EliteBox, a speciality fitness and boxing gym designed to help clients like Idrisu, achieve remarkable health results. Today, Osagie, who doubles as a personal trainer, is working with Mark, who joined the gym last week.
“I have never been to a gym like this, the combination of fitness routines that Rehia designs is specific to your needs. I wanted to build muscles and see results quickly and in a week I can already see progress,” he says.
Mark and Idrisu are part of a new wave of fitness that is sweeping Nigeria. For Osagie, the journey began a decade ago due to injury.
“I used to play semi-professional football in England, then I injured my knee so that career was over. So, I changed sports about seven or eight years ago to boxing,” he says.
Born in London to a gynaecologist and a dentist, Osagie was destined for a career in medicine but he opted for crunching numbers instead. After completing his finance degree at Durham University in England, Osagie had a short stint as a salesman.
“My first job out of university was selling makeup door to door. That is the best way to integrate yourself into society. I used to walk around the city of London and sell Victoria Jackson makeup for £30 to £40. I was in the job for just a month and I quit. After that I went into advertising for an event company where we sold advertising and organized conferences all over the world,” he says.
Osagie was transferred to the Nigerian branch of the business two years ago, which inspired the start of his entrepreneurial journey.
“When I moved to Lagos, I realized that it didn’t have the things that I wanted to do. The whole entrepreneurial journey started because I needed to find a way to do things outside of going clubbing and going to the restaurant.”
At the time, Osagie had to drive far to get to his local gym. He decided to move his workout sessions closer to the where he lived and avoid the same mistake he made years ago by not following his passion.
“I am 29 years old. I was playing football from a young age to about 22. My biggest regret was that I never really took the gamble to quit my job and just go for trials and play for a team. I used to get a decent amount of money per match but I never had the courage to quit everything and pack one bag and relocate to another country to make it playing football, no matter what happened,” he says.
Osagie took the plunge. He quit his job and, with his life savings, began looking for a location for his new gym. He had a clear vision of what he wanted; it had to be safe, moderately priced and accessible. With an initial investment of $40,000, EliteBox was born.
“The long-term vision is to franchise this concept and make sure it also grows organically. I haven’t created this just to be another gym. There are very specific things about this gym that you will not find anywhere else, so, for me to keep that ambience, it has to grow organically.”
So far the gym has 100 members and the media attention is bringing in more members. Combining boxing and fitness is a hit with Osagie’s clients, but he wants to do more with his business.
“We are also looking to have boxing events and charity events. We work with a lot of kids at the moment and people come from the mainland to train; we are creating something here that is more than just a gym. We see ourselves as bridging the gap in the industry so we have the upper echelon in terms of clients and the working class as well. So we have a mix and match with males and females,” says Osagie.
If the feedback from Idrisu and Mark are anything to go by, then Osagie has found his calling. As the fitness craze gains popularity among Nigerians, EliteBox is punching its way to the top.