How Naomi Wakhu tailors workouts for every age and stage

Naomi Wakhu

Personal trainer Naomi Wakhu during a boxing exercise at VMX Fitness Gym in Nairobi on July 4, 2024. 

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

Have you thought of hiring a personal trainer or group classes at the gym are working for you? Many fitness enthusiasts are now opting for personal trainers to help them stay consistent with their exercises, push their limits, and try new things such as adding weight training, cycling, boxing, or weight-lifting to cardio workouts.

Naomi Wakhu, who has been a personal trainer for 12 years, says people shy away from personal trainers as they consider them to be expensive. However, she underscores the need for a personal trainer saying, “Many people nowadays prefer working with a personal trainer because they can hold you accountable and keep you motivated.

“A personal trainer makes work easier for you. You do not have to do anything. No one can pay Sh3,000 for a session and not get value for their money. Clients get to interact with their trainers one-on-one," she says, adding that personal trainers are flexible, adapting to client schedules and physical abilities, and accommodating weather, making it easier for them to help you achieve your fitness goals.

Naomi Wakhu

Naomi Wakhu does a plank on the rings at VMX Fitness Gym in Nairobi on July 4, 2024.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

She gives an example of one of her longest customers.

“I have been with my longest client for five years now and I have gotten to watch her through the different phases of her life. Within five years, she has gotten pregnant twice. I have seen her body change during the first pregnancy, where she lost balance and developed a weak core. After her first baby, she came back as she wanted to be fit and well-toned. We worked on this. She got pregnant again and found she was unable to do some core workouts all over again. I worked with her during the pregnancy helping her hips open up. Now eight months after her second birth, her core is strong and she has more balance. This is what I love to see,” says Naomi, who trained at the Alison Caroline Institute International school as a fitness coach.

I was to meet Naomi at 2pm and by 2:04 pm she had arrived at VMX Fitness Gym in Nairobi's Village Market.

“As a personal trainer, you cannot afford to be late for appointments,” she says.

Her typical day starts at 5am and you will always find her carrying her helmet. “I use Bolt Boda or Uber Boda as it helps me to manoeuvre through the heavy traffic in the city as I rush to train my clients.”

Over the years, her clients' list has grown. “I do trainings from Monday to Friday. I also have online sessions on Zoom because I have clients from the US, Brazil and Germany,” she says.

The clientele

The majority of her clients are couples and elderly people.

“Older people are more driven to stay alive and energetic. Older people exercise to deal with hip and back problems, and they cannot go to gyms, so I go to their homes. Others have undergone several surgeries, so I help them do exercises that help rehabilitate their bodies," she says.

"The younger clients I work with are more interested in losing weight, growing their glutes, bulking and gaining muscle," she adds.

Having seen a gap, she is now focusing on being a personal trainer for the seniors, helping them with movement.

“Working with the older generation has taught me how crucial movement is to one’s general health. What matters most is your mobility. Even if you build muscles but your mobility is not good, you are going to struggle," she says.

The exercise plan

To come up with an exercise regime for her clients, because personalised exercises work best, Naomi first has to check their height, body measurements, and blood pressure, and find out if they have undergone any surgeries or any injuries.

"This helps to determine everyone's workouts,” Naomi says adding,  "The exercises start with warm-ups, and end with stretches. I also incorporate a lot of mobility exercises. These help ensure one does not get injuries. Mobility exercises make the joints move and exercise your spine. When you do mobility exercises, your muscles stretch fast and it is easier to get results because there is better blood flow in the system. Finally, we do the main workouts to help you build strong muscles and bones. These depend entirely on what the client wants. Some want to lose weight, add weight, or just feel good,” Naomi says.

Naomi Wakhu

Naomi Wakhu does push-ups at VMX Fitness Gym in Nairobi on July 4, 2024. 

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

The equipment

So what equipment do you need if you want to work from home with a personal trainer?

“Most of my clients have fully equipped gyms. But what you must have are resistance bands, ankle weights, sliders and dumbbells," she says.

But bodyweight exercises for those who have no home gyms also help one lose weight and tone their muscles.

"I teach Pilates exercises to those who have no equipment as it helps strengthen their muscles and improve flexibility," she says, adding that she also carries her own resistance bands, dumbbells and ankle weights to spice up the Pilates classes.

One of the fears that people have in bringing a personal trainer to their home is privacy.


Naomi says she signs contracts with her clients. This, she says, protects her as she goes to train people from one home to another.

“I ensure that I maintain professionalism with a client. I do not get too personal with my clients. Once we sign the contract, it ensures that my interests and those of my clients are protected,” she says.

Naomi’s personal training career stemmed from frustration. She was a volleyball player.

“Immediately after high school, I left my home village in Busia and moved to Nairobi to join a volleyball team. I played volleyball for three years before things took a different turn. I was one of the best players, and I was sure that I would be on the list of players on the 2013 team, but when the list came out, my name was not there. This, I believe, was fuelled by the fact that I had an altercation with my coach,” she says.

Naomi Wakhu

Naomi Wakhu poses for a photo during a boxing workout at VMX Fitness Gym in Nairobi on July 4, 2024. 

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

The pay

Personal training also pays well.

“In 2013, I got my first client, and from then on, my client base has grown mainly as a result of referrals. Now, I train at least six clients a day. A session costs Sh3,000, but many people pay in packages. So I charge Sh30,000 for a package of 10 sessions,” the 33-year-old says.

She adds, “When I finished school, I was timid and naive. I didn’t know how to get started. Back then, I would even take Sh500 per session. Then I started getting more client referrals, and this gave me confidence that I may be doing a good job.”

When she is not training a client in their homes, you will likely find Naomi at VMX Fitness Gym and Calisthens Fitness Centre.

Her fitness journey

“When I started training, it was all because I wanted to feel and look good but now I am more interested in my mobility,” she says.

To improve herself, Naomi is currently doing callisthenics, which is mainly focused on “your mobility and flexibility. Naomi, who says that your weight is also highly dependent on what you eat, has taken up a high-protein diet.

She says, “For breakfast, I eat oats, bananas, blueberry or raspberry yoghurt. For my second breakfast, I take proteins, particularly eggs, avoiding a lot of wheat. Then, for lunch, I eat rice, broccoli, and chicken breasts. I can interchange the broccoli with a different vegetable or boil the rice with some potatoes. For supper, I mostly take chicken breast salads. I take chicken breast because it does not have a lot of fat.”

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