The ups and downs of the Namibian fitness industry

Fitness trainers don’t all start out as lean and healthy 20 year olds.
Some have also had to overcome obesity and mental illness.

This week, takes a look at the journey of a few fitness trainers who have gone from couch potatoes to fitness junkies.

While suffering from chronic depression, Nelago Nuunyango says all the books she read encouraged her to exercise. The journey began because of a growing desire to live, he says.

Nuunyango created a platform called Inyenga, focused on encouraging people to exercise for better mental health.

I would share photos of myself at the gym and ask the simple question: Did you move today? I would reach out to my friends and anyone who would listen to exercise for mental health, says Nuunyango.

He says exercise isn’t just about losing weight. This is achieved by eating healthy, while mental health is achieved by being active.

When you are mentally fit, you can achieve emotional health and physical fitness. A mentally fit person has no problem getting up to go to the gym, he says.

After successfully running Inyena, Nuunyango saw an opportunity to branch out into the supply of gym equipment.

Now sells branded gym clothes.

I saw women in Namibia training in regular bras and not sports bras or activewear. That’s when I decided to supply them with stylish, sassy and comfortable gym clothes.

We have grown and the reception both here in the United States and in Namibia has exceeded my expectations, she says.


Nuunyango says she committed suicide at a young age due to being overweight.

I was tired. Everything went dark, and I didn’t think there was a way out. Feeling sad all the time is debilitating. i wanted to die

Luckily I was taken to the ER and that’s where I count myself lucky. I was able to see a psychiatrist and was admitted to a psychiatric ward.

That’s where I underwent a psychiatric evaluation and received extensive counseling, he says.

Nuunyango says he advises people to join his movement program as it is an ongoing process.

He says that, especially in Namibia, there is a significant stigma attached to mental illness.

We openly admit that we are a people who have inherited trauma, and we remain traumatized and struggling. We are a people in need of healing.

A fit person is confident, can handle stress better and is able to enjoy overall health.

Life will continue to be a challenge. But you want to be equipped, and that comes from exercise. Plus, your clothes look better on you, she says.


Nuunyango is not the only personal trainer with a powerful life story.

Fitness trainer Ester Hipondoka says bootcamps are still the best thing to do.

She currently trains at 247 Fitness Bootcamp while taking an online fitness course.

Hipondoka says she started her fitness journey in 2011 when she realized she had too much time on her hands.

She has now gone from an intern to a professional fitness trainer training almost 20 people.

I wanted to do something to pass the time in the afternoons. But it really wasn’t a surprise to choose fitness, because back in high school, I would participate in almost every sports activity.

Soon after, fitness became a hobby, he says.
At the height of her fitness journey, she says she was more focused on staying fit than eating healthy.

Over the years, I noticed that I was gaining weight while still exercising. My motto was I could eat anything I wanted, I was going to burn that fat anyway, and boy was I wrong.
I started eating healthy and exercising, and I saw positive changes in the long run, she says.

Hipondoka says he has always been inspired by fitness trainer Nelson Sakaria.

I looked at how young he was and how he would transform people’s lives through fitness. He inspired me to do the same. After training with him for years, I have decided to take a personal fitness course to make my dream come true.

In the process of studying, I did my internship with 247 Fitness Bootcamp, she says.

He plans to venture into something different, however, Hipondoka says.

The fitness business is more like a heartbeat. It may look good some days and some days not. In winter, for example, hardly any people appear.

Consistency is a missing component in the fitness world. And I have to say it’s not healthy, he says.

Viis Gym founder nutritionist Alvina Kandenge, also known as Vii or Viin, says she quit her full-time job to pursue her passion for health.

She has a certificate in business administration, but focuses on fitness and nutrition coaching.

Kandenge says that while business is currently booming, the biggest challenge remains inconsistent income.

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