The Gym…Again

After the holiday I’m told I’ve gained weight. Good thing we don’t have the girther movement here.

Of course I disagree and I’m prepared to defend myself against such malicious allegations. Though, if truth be told, I’ve had one too many beers and other unhealthy stuff- but that was just me cultivating mass. Bulking up, so to speak.

Who doesn’t want to bulk up?

But, just in case there’s a shred of truth in the allegations, I’ll be going to the gym again tomorrow. Blame the holidays, resolutions blah blah. Perhaps this time I’ll last.


Or perhaps I should just follow Tim Ferris’ experiments advice in The Four Hour Chef and get quick results. Either way changes are coming- again.

On actually working out at a gym

If you’ve been following my posts you probably know that I recently signed up for gym membership. Which is why I found myself in a gym at around 5:40 in the morning.

The program I’m following, called StrongLifts 5 x 5, is really simple. All I had to do today were five sets of five reps each for Squats,  Benchpress and the Barbell Row.

I started with the Squats with only the bar and no plates then did the same for the Benchpress. However I had to add 10 kg to the Barbell Rows because the nature of the exercise does not allow it to be done without any weight plates.

The Barbell Row
                                         The Barbell Row

Thought it was going to be easy but I was quickly dissuaded of that notion- my thighs are sore right now. I think my form was poor for the Benchpress and the Barbell curl but on the whole I was OK. All the while I was wondering what the really swole guys were thinking seeing a guy struggling with an empty bar.

Then it dawned on me that everyone was concentrating on what they were doing and no one was remotely interested in my workouts. Generally unless you are making some unnecessary grunts or handling gym equipment in a way that can be dangerous to you or others people in gyms just mind their own business. Which is good if you are a shy person- which I’m obviously not.

I completed my workout in about 30 minutes. Oh, did I mention that there’s a sauna at the gym? It’s awesome, I know.

So except for my poor form, which I’ll try to correct in future sessions, I think the session went well. The next time I go there, on Wednesday, I’ll do workout B of Stronglifts where the Benchpress is replaced by the Overhead Press and the Barbell Row by the Deadlift.

I think I may even come to like this- in a decade or so.

On Actually Joining a Gym

My six pack is coming- hold on there
                     My six pack is coming- soon

I’ve previously written about deciding to join a gym and actually trying to find a gym so now I got an announcement. Ladies and Gentlemen, I finally actually signed up for gym membership. Isn’t that awesome?

The Gym is called Oxygen something and it’s located in Joina City. I paid less for both membership and monthly subscription coz I’m under 25 and a “student”.

First workout is on Monday. I’m so not looking forward to this.

A Good Gym is Hard to Find: Business Lessons From a Day of Gym Hunting


In a big city like Harare you’d think finding a good gym is an easy thing. Turns out it’s harder than I imagined.

Yesterday I spent some time hunting for an ideal place to work out at. Ideal in this case means that the place should be in in the CBD or the Avenues. Secondly there should be standard Olympic barbells, weight plates of varying weights and a squat rack. And obviously shouldn’t be too expensive. That’s a short list, nothing fancy, should be plenty around I thought.

So I did the obvious thing- I went on the internet and searched for “gyms in Harare”. The results were poor, and the few gyms I found there didn’t appear to have any websites. Come on guys, in this day and age?

Which meant I had to resort to primitive ways i.e. going around town searching for gyms and comparing them. Started with the nearest one I knew, over at Fife Avenue shops. Fit the location requirement perfectly since it’s a few minutes’ walk from my place. “$40 a month and $10 for joining,” a short fella who I assumed to be the instructor said. I looked around the pace and wasn’t impressed. The space looked too small and the weights were in disarray. Told him I’d think about it and left.

Next was one I had found on Facebook, along Livingstone Avenue, between Fourth and Fifth streets. “$25 joining fee, $50 per month,” a bored lady at the reception told me. A well-built guy showed me around, he was refreshingly good company and he told me that students pay $35 per month. Looked a good enough place and I thought I might return there.

Later I went to the one in Joina City, called Oxygen Fitness. Located right in the CBD, housed in the city’s fanciest and newest high rise, it looked an expensive place. Fee is $20 for joining then $50 for a month. “What if I’m a student,” I asked remembering a previous encounter. “Oh, if you’re a student, and you’re below 25 you join for $15 and pay $40 every month,” I was told.

I also went to Empire Gym along Leopold Takawira, next to that shop where they sell those fancy Jaguars. A notice proudly proclaimed that they are the biggest fitness chain in the country. Like all things that used to be big in this country the gym has seen better times.

I visited more places, one recommended by a friend in downtown Harare where Harare Street and Albion intersect. Good enough place, $35 per month, no joining fee. Friendliest stuff I’d encountered. But there was a problem. The weight plates were terrible, looked like some kind of rubbery stuff and some barbells were of fixed weights.

It was quite an afternoon, I found one gym at Reylton sports club that looked like sh**, another sh**ty one at Les Brown swimming pool, several others in downtown Harare and, *surprise*, even one at Harare Central Police Station, in the basement, where they charge a dollar per session. Would’ve gone there if the equipment was adequate.

My search got me thinking about business. Reminded me of some ideas I have harboured for some years.

The best ideas, wrote Jason Fried in his short but awesome book, “Rework”, are those that solve the problems you have. This, he said, is called, “scratching your own itch”, and it often turns out to be the best way of getting entrepreneurial ideas. After all there are countless guys like me out there, facing the same problems right? (Well, actually I don’t think there are guys like me, but you get the point).

My experience was frustrating. I really felt that all the gyms I went to could and should do more to make their places more attractive. But of course these issues are not limited to gyms, they apply to most businesses in Zimbabwe.

So I thought I should point out a few things that I think will make Zimbabwean businesses better.

Firstly the staff who deal with people in Zimbabwean companies are generally a lazy, uninterested, bored and, perhaps, unqualified lot. In all the places I went- except the Reylton one where the owner was around- no one tried to encourage me to sign up, either verbally or by offering incentives. I mean when you’re a receptionist in a gym or fitness centre you ought to appear engaged and look happy to be doing your job instead of looking bored and not giving a fuck whether I sign up or not. This is prevalent in almost every sector, except where people are paid on commission. But again what do you expect when people just employ their friends daughters, or aunts or someone from church or an uncle’s baby momma?

Also you need to incentivise, for example if a prospective client complains about the price, why not reduce it by even five dollars. In a business like a gym where the costs are fixed such moves will make you much, much more money in the long run. Perhaps this is down to the owners who do not give their employees room to do such things. Or maybe the employees themselves are not paid enough to care. These guys could really learn a thing or two from the guys who sell phones at the ZimPost mall. Those guys really want you to buy and they often succeed too. And you wonder why those guys drive Mercs while fancy shops go bust.

Thirdly people really need to take their businesses online. Seriously, a basic website costs less than $200. You can get one done for $50 even. A simple two or three page site that lists the services offered, the prices and contact information will go a long way. Imagine the number of potential clients who miss your services because you’re invisible. Facebook and Twitter are fine but nothing beats the good old website for visibility, clarity and credibility. It really boggles my mind why people don’t get this. After investing tens (possibly hundreds) of thousands in a business, what’s another $200 for a website?

Businesses should also get the basics right. I mean it doesn’t matter that you have fancy treadmills and other equipment that no one knows how to use when you don’t have toilets or showers. In one gym they had pretty expensive stuff but no barbells, they simply got the basics wrong. At another they had the equipment you’d expect in a home gym. Come on comrades.

Lastly I think appearances are important in some business sectors. There’s nothing worse than seeing a potbellied fella giving fitness lessons and extolling the virtues of working out. Or overweight, lazy looking receptionists. I mean I have nothing against people’s weights but you can’t be a certain weight and work in a gym, just as you can’t be a certain height and work in the army, for example.

Some fellas need reminders that it’s the 21st Century. Come on makomuredhi. Even Baba Tencen is making money online.


On Deciding to Join a Gym

It's a robbery
                                                                It’s a robbery

I have decided, against my better judgement, to join a gym. There are many reasons why I would rather not but, alas, the current state of my body leaves me no choice.

According to my friends I have gained a bit of weight and my waistline has extended a bit. My friends- particularly female ones- are starting to notice and, even worse, mention it. That’s a sign of trouble if there ever was. Not good for someone my age, not good at all.

So I did a bit of Googling and decided to follow a program called StrongLifts 5 x 5 because the exercises are really simple and don’t take too long to complete. 3 different exercises, 5 sets of 5 repetitions 3 times a week. No machines, no dumbbells, no fancy moves, just a barbell and the basics. Seems simple enough- can’t be too bad.

I’m really apprehensive about this decision though. Last time I decided to join a gym was two years ago, and a year before that. On both times I lasted less than two weeks and never really worked out. I hated the environment and couldn’t be bothered to continue.

But that was back when I was really fit and it didn’t matter. Since then things have changed, as I’ve pointed out, and it’s now a matter of necessity. Doesn’t help too that one of my best friends recently joined a crossfit gym, there’s absolutely no way I’m going to be that fat guy in the group.

Still it’s not easy giving up some certain foods like pizza and beer other carb rich stuff.

On the plus side I’ll meet some hot women hopefully get back in shape and, who knows, I might even come to like it.