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Health’s angels

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In this piece, we feature five motivators of health, fitness, wellness and last – but not least – weight loss (see Chiekezi Dozie, The Wildcard later). Compared to most people, you have to be some sort of angel to dedicate so many long hours per week, and in their cases, their drive is not only to help themselves but to instruct and encourage others. It takes sheer discipline, and it’s not the calling of the average person. Indeed in The Bible, it is written (suggested), that we treat our bodies like a temple, and most of us need a helping hand in this area. Of course, no one is perfect, and those featured below are not selling perfection. The key underlying message from each of them is that we can all try our best to stay fit and healthy – and to aim for the best versions of ourselves. 

Maje Ayida, Ngozi Ojora, Louise Priddy and Farida Sanusi are fitness instructors and stars of Nigeria’s Instagram traffic feeds on Health & Fitness who, collectively, are making an impact on the lives of many people. Please note that this editorial piece does not in any way provide any Health & Fitness advice, and we urge everyone to seek medical advice before embarking on any fitness programme (or food plan), to avoid any injury (or illness).  If in any doubt, in general, if you’re interested in working with any fitness instructors you come across online or otherwise, please do research their backgrounds and qualifications, and do consider recommendations – those tried and tested – from your friends and family.

Maje Ayida  Mr Motivator 
Maje Ayida is a Wellness Coach and CEO of the award-winning Health & Fitness Brand, Eden Lifestyle. The brand’s Corporate Wellness program services various industries in Nigeria, from Banking to Oil and Gas. Maje spent 10 years in banking in the UK, having gone through the full education system there. He is a columnist for a national newspaper and makes numerous television and radio appearances, educating and motivating Nigerians on healthy living. He is an accomplished international speaker, influencer and writer, and sits on the committee of The Spa And Wellness Association of Africa. Maje is the founder and owner of a popular fitness facility in Lagos called The HIIT Squad, the team responsible for the fitness event series HIIT Hangout.

During the Lagos Mini Marathon that took place recently, Maje attended the events of most of the participating schools and was hired to do the warm-ups. This was part of a historic school fitness roadshow, an initiative by Maje himself in partnership with St Saviour’s School. This year was the third edition of the Mini Marathon and the aim is to grow each year. With their motto being Active Kids Rockthe idea is to get kids excited about exercise, which will ultimately impact future generations to adopt a positive inclination towards making health & fitness a priority.

Maje also likes to get involved in at least one charitable initiative per year and HIIT SQUAD will be hosting a light HIIT session to support the We For Good yoga event at their second fundraiser on 23 November, in partnership with Yoga Sutra, Simone’s Oasis, Ask Toks, Impeccable Collaboration, and The Guardian. The initiative was created to raise funds in aid of a teacher training programme needed for teachers working to integrate and include special needs children into mainstream schools in Lagos.

Ngozi Ojora

To learn more about Maje’s work, please follow @majeayida on Instagram.

Ngozi Ojora The Metabolic Rater

Ngozi is known for advocating the importance of strength training to build muscle as a means of increasing one’s metabolism. However, she emphasises that this method alone is not enough.  In fact, it has been scientifically proven that one’s metabolism can be boosted through a variety of ways, such as lifting heavy weights (muscle is more metabolically active than fat), eating well (especially more protein, which has a higher metabolic-boosting effect than the other macronutrients), standing more than sitting, consuming spicy food and drink, drinking green tea and coffee, practising HIIT, getting enough sleep and drinking cold water, because greater energy (calories) is expended in warming it to body temperature.

Ngozi shares that her father drummed into her and her siblings as children that there is a correlation between physical activity and mental astuteness. Therefore Health & Fitness (despite her architectural background) has become, for quite a number of years now, her greatest passion. Ngozi “played” in this field for years before formally becoming a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified Personal Trainer, which was respectively followed by Specialisations in both Fitness Nutrition and Corrective Exercise.

In the midst of this journey, Elite Figures, a modest and bespoke business with a focus on functional training was set up. The company’s belief is that a metabolically healthy and functional body can yield greater confidence and a clearer, sharper and happier mental space.

Ngozi says: “Even though the metabolic boosting effects of some of the above might be meager, it all adds up. From the list above,  I naturally partake in approximately 90 per cent… Try not to make it a chore, but a lifestyle change.”
To learn more, you can find @elitefigures_ on Instagram.

Louise Priddy The Master Of Minds
Louise returned to the UK, had her second child Ayla, now 3 (she also has a son Khaii, 7) and around at age 40 realised she had had enough of Weight Watchers, measuring food, counting calories and not being able to eat the foods she wanted. So she decided to create a programme by herself after completing an NVQ on nutrition and health where she learned the importance of portion control while being able to eat what she wanted (sensibly, and in moderation).

As far as exercise is concerned, she was taught by her personal trainer Jenny (as it is a known fact that most people are not doing the right exercises when they go to the gym). At the beginning of her journey, since she couldn’t join the gym she took on cardio and added skipping (this works the whole body) and put together an 8-week programme, which she first tested out on family members, who started seeing amazing results. She is confident that her “method works” because “it’s a lifestyle”. Louise shares that she doesn’t do diets, that she can eat what she wants, but it’s all about the quantity. She firmly believes that we eat far too much. It’s that simple. And having a healthy and balanced lifestyle is not just about healthy eating, it’s also about what’s in your mind. Positive thinking, your attitude in life and at work. It really does boil down to mastering your mind, that if you set your mind to something, you can achieve it.

Louise has always been passionate about helping people and can be described as a food and fitness mentor who encourages people to lead better lifestyles – starting with hers – Lifestyle With Lulu.  She is the Founder of this platform that motivates clients to make more time for their wellness, to stop making excuses, to put time aside to cook balanced meals (with healthy proportions of vegetables, protein, and carbs) and to exercise at least three times a week. What does she prescribe? Three main things: containers, discipline, and honesty!

After signing up for her 8-week programme, Louise asks her clients to join a WhatsApp group which is created on each programme’s start date. You are required to send in photos, measurements, and instead of a food or exercise diary, you send in visuals of what you are eating and how you are moving your body! She is in constant communication with her clients, checking in around mealtimes and promised exercise schedules to see how they are doing – or if they aren’t doing anything! Taking note of what they have eaten, what exercise they have done, what their measurements are. There are weekly weigh-ins.

The idea of sharing photos and videos is very motivating for the right clients as Louise won’t just take your word for it. If you are not following her programme, she will know. There is a lot of accountability in her programme, and that’s where the honesty part comes in. If you slip up though, Louise, although firm, simply encourages you to keep moving and not feel like you’ve failed. Tomorrow’s another day. You keep moving forward.

The containers are about portion control. The discipline part is about listening to what she advises – and following it and doing what you say you are going to do. Louise also posts a lot on social media: common sense mantras, images of food “in containers” and motivational statements encouraging that you can do it. It’s quite a personal type of wellness instruction.
You call follow @lifestylewithlulu on Instagram.

Farida Sanusi

Farida Sanusi The Spincess
Farida Sanusi, fondly known as The Spincess is the founder of IC Spin Club, her fitness business. She was born in Northern Nigeria, has lived and worked in the UK, USA, and Nigeria and it was while living in California where the culture revolves around fitness, a healthy lifestyle and mental wellbeing that she began to understand the importance of good health and habits. To ensure that she could teach and deliver safe and effective fitness classes, she trained as an Indoor Cycle/Spinning Instructor with several fitness certifications from Schwinn, Performance Indoor Cycling and Spinning UK – to name a few – as well as getting certified in CPR and First-Aid. She moved back to Lagos in 2009 and since 2012 has worked in close partnership with many gyms, studios, and events running indoor cycling and fitness classes. IC Spin Club has soon created drawing inspiration for the name from her late father’s initials I.C.S. (Ibrahim Cigari Sanusi) and a play on words: “I see”, in memory of her late father.

With her small personal classes and contagious positive energy and vibes, Farida has amassed a following of people that come in all shapes and sizes, and at any level and any age to help cheer each other on to achieve their individual fitness goals. Apart from also juggling a career in recruitment and being a full-time mother of one, Farida likes to give back to society and works alongside charitable organisations in Lagos. She very recently volunteered her time as coordinator of the spinning section of a breast cancer awareness drive event, partnering with HS Fitness (using their bikes) and Nakenohs (who donated usage of their space), brought her own DJ and gave out free T-Shirts and caps. With her wealth of fitness experience, she strives to help children and adults achieve their true potential – not only improving their physical fitness but also their mental well-being. Her future aspirations include continuing to learn and grow as an individual as well as a fitness instructor while continuing work towards owning a chain of her own fitness studios. @icspinclub is on Instagram.

Chiekezi Dozie The Wild Card
Chiekezi is playfully referred to as the wild card of today’s line up because he is not actually a fitness instructor. He is a Law Graduate (also with legal professional exams under his belt) who then went on to become an IT and Technology professional, an accomplished Photographer, Entrepreneur, Technophile, Webpreneur and Digital Media Consultant. He is an active blogger and Social Media Commentator with Persnickety Media. Oftentimes, the life of an entrepreneur can be chaotic, and those who are self-employed can be more prone to the lack of a regular routine compared to those in day jobs or working very long hours which can lead to sedentary lifestyles and/or unsocial working and eating hours. This can have an adverse effect on their health, as well as sleeping patterns. Similarly to needing extra discipline for your business to succeed, entrepreneurs require far more discipline to stay healthy compared to the average working person. Chikezie is one of many to have fallen into this common predicament.

He shared in a heart-warming interview that food has always been his “crutch”, and that he was inspired by his mother and his children (wanting to live to see them grow up). The turning point for Chiekezi was when he found himself out of breath, wheezing and panting as though he’d run a marathon during a walk with his daughters in 2018. He admits having found himself making excuses about why they should return home after walking for just five minutes. Fast forward to today, starting in June 2019 Chiekezi shares that after a number of false starts, he is finally “taking back [his] life” and that his story “is not one of overnight success”.

Although he is yet to achieve his ideal weight goal (he didn’t take a magic pill, didn’t follow any fad diets, and neither did he want to succumb to body mass reduction under a surgeon’s knife), instead, his journey has been more like a roller-coaster ride of trials, with many many errors, and a collection of small milestones along the way, which has eventually lead to him losing more weight than he ever expected. Being at his lightest weight for 20 years, as of the time of writing this piece Chiekezi, at just over 125kg, is only 5kg away from his target, and has lost a whopping 31.6kg in just FIVE MONTHS!!!

So what’s the secret? Chiekezi self-prescribed a plan of daily exercise, no fizzy drinks, smaller portions, adding more vegetables, lots of water, at least 6 hours of sleep daily and most importantly making himself accountable and committed to his journey, and not setting “insane targets”. Just seeing the slightest bit of weight loss daily kept him going. The fruits of his labour have certainly increased his self-confidence, which he describes as being “off the charts”. He also sleeps better and now has a more positive outlook as to what tomorrow will bring. He finishes by adding: “If I can only inspire one person to embark on this journey of self-discovery, then my work here is done.”

To read Chiekezi’s full story, please visit: here


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