Evelyn Okinyi Owala is a renowned health and fitness guru who embarked on a lifelong journey in the fitness industry after quitting the corporate world.
She is the owner of Eveal Health and Fitness and won the Ms Kenya Figure title in 2016 and 1st Runners-up Figure 2017. Akinyi also put Kenya on the map after winning the coveted Women bodybuilding 2019 championship title in Angola and scooping two trophies during the annual Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival held in South Africa in May of last year.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
We have had to capitalize on digital platforms, given that there isn’t much work at the gyms. So, personal training is what I have been focusing more on in this season.
What would you attribute your strong sense of discipline to?
I enjoy what I do, so I don’t associate it with pain or inconvenience. Discipline becomes easy when it entails something that your mind considers fun.
How does it feel to be a trail blazer in your own right?
I endeavor to do my best every day, I try to harness as much as I can from each day because I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, case and point the COVID-19 pandemic. Who knew in January that business would look like this by July? I apply myself fully to what I do and the benefits of that follow me.
What is your greatest fear
Not doing my best on any given day, knowing that the opportunity may not come again.
What do you consider to be your greatest asset in business?
Relationship with my clients
Looking back at how far you’ve come, if you were to do things differently, what would you change?
I have learnt that everything happens for a reason and that in every situation there is always a way out. I associate this question with a sense of regret which I do not have. Whatever did not work out according to my plan did eventually still work out for my good.
That transition from banking to fitness, what was that like?
To be honest, I didn’t think about it too much. I knew I wanted to start something that would work for me, get into entrepreneurship, I had not determined that fitness would be it. I chose fitness because it was something I enjoyed doing for myself, so I thought I would take a gamble and turn it into a business, see how that goes. It’s been a favourable journey.
Would you say being married made that transition easier? Knowing that there was an alternative source of income?
I’m an independent thinker, I do what I deem fit. That said, having a supportive partner made the transition easy.
Do you think wannabe entrepreneurs are usually too calculating?
I think planning is a good thing. If you can save money to cushion your transition into business then please do. Being calculative is good but you have to see way ahead, try and count the cost of getting into entrepreneurship, not just financially but in every other way. Endeavour to see way ahead.
After you have done that, learn how to stand fast enough to secure yourself knowing that sometimes your projections will fail and you need to strengthen yourself to stay in the game.
How do you manage to balance between all the responsibilities in your life – being a wife, mother and trainer
I run on a schedule, my day plays out like clockwork. This helps me to get everything done that needs to get done and not tip the scale on the extreme of any side.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learnt the hard way as far as your career is concerned?
Don’t bank on trust; document everything even when you are working with your friends – especially when working with friends. Most people who will con you, are those close to you. Have it on paper, no matter how small a deal is.
Your take on fitness training in Kenya, where are we at?
It’s still a very young industry. We really don’t have much of an exercising culture. When was the last time you saw someone riding a bike around your estate simply for exercise purposes? For the most part, we have not embraced fitness as a lifestyle yet it is so beneficial to our health. I can’t remember the last time I checked into a hospital because I was sick – some of the key benefits of working out.
Your dream for the industry
To grow and create more opportunities for fitness experts
To see more and more people embrace exercise as a lifestyle
Are you mentoring anyone?
I’ve mentored different people at different times
What’s your favourite book?
The 5 a.m. club by Robin Sharma