Health & Fitness

How we stay fit and lean without a gym


Cess Gakii.


  • You do not need to exercise in a gym to gain your fitness goals.
  • BDLife spoke to people who have been exercising at home, alone and have trimmed their bodies to perfection.

Now that not everyone wants to join a gym, what hope is there for those who have resolved to get fit, tone up and lose the paunch this year?

You do not need to exercise in a gym to gain your fitness goals. BDLife spoke to people who have been exercising at home, alone and have trimmed their bodies to perfection.

Cess Gakii 35, doctor

I’m shy and crowded gyms make me anxious. Once in a while, I go for fitness boot camps with friends but most of the time I exercise at home. Last year, I decided that I wanted a toned body and to eat clean.

With an unpredictable routine due to the pandemic, working from home, taking care of two children, I picked exercising as my break activity. I’d schedule two breaks at 11 am and 3pm to exercise.

Exercising calms me down and all I need is a mat, some space in the house and dumbbells. I mostly do interval training; cardio and strength workouts either using weights or body weight. I avoid isolated weight training in favour of super setting. For instance, I’ll do a squat with weights and then go into a biceps curl. It is quite effective in burning calories because I engage many muscles, so does combining cardio and strength workouts. When I travel out of the country for work, I exercise be it in hotel rooms and tents. There is a time that I exercised for four to six days in a tent for two months.

My greatest achievement has been developing a healthy relationship with food. I once tried intermittent fasting with the 16:8 hours scheduling. After three months, I realised that I was eating only when hungry, with minimum food cravings.

Later, I figured that I couldn’t fast forever so I had to learn how to co-exist with food. Now I eat more complex carbohydrates like arrow roots, brown bread (which I bake at home) and chapati. I have reduced intake of white rice and ugali. Due to weight lifting, I eat lots of protein; eggs, lentils and white meats.

I estimate my food portions using my fist and this has helped me eat more vegetables and less carbohydrates. I’m finally seeing changes in my tummy and arms. You will be amazed how much veggies we can eat in a day if you do it. Although I’ve added weight from 60kgs to 64kgs, my body is lithe, toned since I’ve gained muscle and lost fat.

If you want to be fit this year, choose sustainable programmes both in diet and workouts. Don’t just do it for weight loss. Exercise to boost your mood, get clear skin, reduce your risk of getting chronic diseases, be more agile, and slow down the aging process.

Clare Obora, 36, Assistant Director for Youth Affairs, Nakuru


From how I look, it is hard to imagine that I have shaped my body mostly at home. I have a home gym with no trainer so I push myself to achieve my desired goals. I’m a mother of a 12-year-old boy and I have always wanted to be like the muscular women I see in magazines. My home gym wall is plastered with tens of such pictures.

In 2015, I bought training programmes that ran for 12 weeks and I followed them religiously. I also read books on health and fitness to broaden my understanding of this type of training.

During Covid-19, I took my fitness goals to another level. My focus was to gain more muscle and eat clean. All exercises were aimed at sculpting my body to increase muscle mass and reduce body fat.

For cardiovascular workouts, I watched YouTube videos, doing the exercises for 30 minutes. I bought gym equipment and never skipped a day of exercise. I can lift 80kgs during leg workouts, and for curls, 13.6 kgs.

So far, I’ve been able to considerably build muscle mass. I now weigh 66kgs up from 58kgs. In a day, I take 160 grammes of protein, between 60to 85 grammes of fats, and 220 grammes of carbohydrates.

For a long time, I’ve been competing as a female body-builder, ‘Bikini Division’, which requires a toned body, symmetry and softer muscle.

Last December, I switched to ‘Figure Category’ which requires more muscle. I emerged first runners-up.

Shaping my body to how I wanted it has taught me two valuable lessons: fitness is a lifestyle transformation, a marathon, and not a sprint. So be kind to yourself as you push for your goals. Second, discipline in fitness can translate to discipline in all areas of life.

Lynn Nkatha, 22


I’ve tried losing weight for years. I was weighing 72kgs and for my age, I think that it is too much. The weight made me perceive myself as less beautiful compared to my age mates.

I tried juice diets, drank slim teas, among others, but my body was not changing much. When Covid-19 hit, I decided that I wanted to see changes in my physical health.

My journey to a healthier, fitter me began with a two-kilometre jog, five days a week. It was difficult at first but soon I got the hang of it.

I also started a keto diet. After three months of jogging, I realised that I had lost a considerable amount of weight. My clothes were loose. I was excited. My energy levels were up and so was my self-esteem.

I carved out 45 minutes a day, five to six days a week for weight training. With no option of going to the gym, I turned to YouTube. I pick my workouts from fitness channels such as Chloe Ting, MrLondon, Lilly Sabri, Joanna Soh, Heather Robertson and Boho Beautiful Yoga. Additionally, I incorporate boxing and Zumba dance because exercising does not have to be boring.

I’ve been on a journey of discovering what works for me and what does not and making a lifestyle out of it.

All these has paid off. Currently, I weigh 59kgs and I have lost five inches off my waist, from 33 inches to 28 inches.

I’m thrilled at what I’ve been able to achieve at the comfort of my home.

If you want to be fit, be consistent, and know what you want and why. Finally, avoid the weighing scale.

Micah Otieno, 31 Businessman


On January 1, I started the year with a 52-kilometre run. The air was fresh, the streets empty and my heart strong. I ran from Nairobi’s South C to Matasia, Ngong’ to and from via Hardy, Karen. I’ve been running for a while now but every time it is as thrilling as the first time.

Running was my introduction to home workouts over a year ago. The businessman that I am, I did a cost-benefit analysis of gym membership. I found that I voluntarily ‘waste’ Sh156,000 annually at a gym. That was Sh13,000 per month for my wife and I. I realised that the gym was only valuable if I wanted to increase my muscle mass, especially in my arms, and not for general fitness.

I began by running with my ‘life group’ (fellowship group) from the church. Once a week on Saturdays, we’d run five kilometres. The change of scenery every kilometre and the camaraderie we shared made this exciting. Soon, five kilometres became a walk in the park and after a few months, we did 15kms and then to 22kms.

The challenge of charting a new route now and then is invigorating. I’m always looking to push myself. I try to run at least four times a week. At the moment, the longest distance I’ve run at a go is 70 kilometres, from Nairobi’s South C through the bypass to Ruiru and back via Utawala.

Besides running, I created a home gym for weight-lifting. I bought dumbbells and yoga mats for my wife. For heavier weights, we have homemade 25 kgs and 50kgs barbells from cement. The results have been tremendous. When I started, I was 110kgs. Currently, I oscillate between 88kgs and 82kgs. I’ve become more athletic. Healthwise, it’s been a while since I’ve been to a hospital. This is an important win because the year before I started working out from home, I had to top up my medical insurance cover. I’ve since bid goodbye to doctors and medicine. My eating habits have also changed. After such a run, I can’t stuff myself with unhealthy foods. My diet is now full of local whole foods, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and water is my liquid gold. Most times, I eat once a day and I’m good to go. Perhaps the biggest win has been to model fitness to my children. My eight-year-old girl can comfortably do a 5-km run and my son a two- kilometre walk.

Working out from home has worked out for me. If you’re new to home workouts, just start and start now. Find a group you can begin with. This instils discipline. Once on it, be consistent and let your plate match your healthy lifestyle.