Tizi Talks with Isaac Hunja

"Champions are made when no one is watching"

· Interviews

Dear Reader,

Are you feeling the Christmas jitters yet? Welcome back to episode eight of Tizi Talks with Isaac Hunja. He is the Chief Marketing Officer at Sky.Garden; an e-commerce platform built for African businesses. The company offers a fulfilment service that allows anyone to have access to the digital market and ultimately expand their sales radius. To sell using Sky.Garden all you have to do is download the Sky.Garden Merchant application and register a free web shop in a matter of minutes.( No paper work, no waiting lists, nothing!) In short, they are the ‘Shopify for Africa’.

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On top that, Isaac is the founder of Strength Kenya, a platform dedicated to highlighting stories about Kenyans in the fitness community. If you follow Tizi Talks, you will see that I mentioned they have group fitness classes every Saturday at the Arboretum and it only costs 50 Kshs. What a way to keep people in on a Friday night and active on a Saturday morning! After following his fitness journey, I was inspired by how well he takes care of himself which I am sure contributes to his creativity and general productivity. We got to chatting and this is what he had to say...

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TIZI: How old are you?

IH: I turned 26 this year.

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TIZI: How long have you been working out?

IH: Physical activity has always been important to me for as long as I can remember. I was a really active child! Through my formative years and into high school, I was either running cross-country, shooting 3's at a basketball tournament or hiking through the dry plains of Oloitoktok. Also theoretically studying Physical Education all the way up to my O-levels gave me a much deeper understanding of my body and how exercise and physical activity benefited it. I started following a daily fitness routine when I joined college (USIU) in 2008. It was the first time I had access to a well equipped gym with experienced gym instructors and the rest is history. I quickly fell in love with the daily grind, and of course, the results. I had a great gym partner (shoutout Dennis Gichuki), who pushed me when I was down and in turn I pushed him. We learned together the value of hard work and perseverance, getting stronger day by day, running faster, and jumping higher. Since then I have been a member of countless gyms around Nairobi based on where I was currently working or living. Right now I workout at Wentworth Fitness Center in Kileleshwa.

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TIZI: What made you start working out?

IH: To be honest, my parents. Firstly, I have the coolest folks on the planet, and it’s because of them that I am the man I am today. When it came to fitness and healthy living, my parents really led by example. I can’t even explain to you the number of times I had to wait outside a gym for them to finish their workout! I witnessed hard work, diligence, fighting through injuries, and the day-in-day-out strive for progress through them. They were both always on a different diet that they had read about in a Reader’s Digest and celebrating when they’d hit their target weight. Basically, my parents taught me the value of taking care of yourself. They are both in their 50's now but look like they are pushing 40 years old! Secondly, it always felt natural for me to constantly challenge myself physically. Through sports or otherwise, my curiosity and drive to see how long I can run, how much I can lift, or how high I can jump naturally led me to ‘the fit life’.

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Isaac and his family :)

TIZI: Do you feel like it has made a difference in your life? If yes, how so?

IH: Keeping fit and eating healthy has done so much for me. The short term benefits of it all is what keeps me going but ultimately it’s the macro effect that I’m more interested in. Not only has it allowed me to stay in shape and achieve a physique I’m happy with, but a whole host of benefits we all know about; I sleep better, get an energy boost after every workout, increased my self confidence, etc. Conversely, I have met some of the most amazing people through fitness. Whether it’s telling the stories of Kenyans taking fitness seriously on Strength Kenya, or attending group workouts, and even just starting up conversations at the squat rack. I have gotten to know some life long friends and I will be forever grateful for that.

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Strength Kenya community at Nairobi Arboretum

TIZI: Can you please take me through your daily fitness routine on a weekday? And the weekend?

IH: I prefer to workout before work, which means I’m up at about 5am. I live about 2 km from my gym which is perfect because I jog there for my warm up. Once I am there, I workout for a maximum of 1 hour, you don’t need more than an hour to get a good workout in. I finish with a jog or brisk walk back home depending on whether I have worked out legs or not. In terms of post workout meals, I’m currently following an intermittent fasting diet, meaning I only eat from 12 pm to 8 pm. My meals are pretty standard and some would say ‘boring’! :) Oats, eggs, chicken breast, brown rice and broccoli are my staple. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

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TIZI: Do you find it difficult to include your workout in your daily routine?

IH: It all depends on what’s going on with my week to be honest. Work can get really crazy sometimes and I struggle to fit in a good 8hrs of sleep PLUS get a workout in. However one thing I always tell people is - you will never have enough time to workout. It’s all about prioritization. The only way you can achieve your goals in life, is through discipline. Sick? Tired? Lazy? Doesn’t matter, you have to show up and show out! Your body will thank you later. No one’s ever said the words “I really regret that workout”.

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TIZI: What keeps you motivated?

IH: Progress. I like to set achievable goals every month and make a plan for how I’m going to achieve those goals. Without that then it all feels aimless and unstructured. The feeling of lifting a target weight that you wouldn’t have dreamed of lifting is indescribable. Even running 1 km longer than you did last week deserves a pat on the back. Something that I got to realize really quick is, rarely will you have someone celebrate your wins with you. You have to be ready to go through this journey alone. Those 5am mornings, alone in the gym, sweating through a squat session are what build you. You have to train your mind like you train your body. You have to put one foot in front of the other, when no one is there to encourage you or tell you how awesome you are. Champions are made when no is watching. So set personal goals, kill them, set new ones and repeat!

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Let's try to stop with the 'drink-December' and try 'fit- December'. Listening to Isaac's story reminds me of a Ted Talks by Leanne Spencer where she discusses the importance of introducing your children to fitness at a young age. She also highlights that you don't need a long time to get fit, all you need is dedication and a change in your mind-set; that we need to focus on functional fitness as opposed to the obsession with weight loss. Isaac's story is a perfect illustration of this mantra because he attributes his love for fitness by seeing how his parents prioritized it. I hope you remain encouraged by his story and start investing in your well being. See you in the next feature and enjoy the video below!

Yours in Wellness,


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