If there is a goal that I have consistently struggled with, it definitely has to be my fitness journey. From the body soreness, gym accidents to the significant time investment it requires, going to the gym has always been a sour pill for me. However, deep down I have always known that a healthy active lifestyle remains key and is essential for our mind, body and overall health. Where am I going with this? Despite the ills that we perceive the gym to be associated with, it has worked for a very good number of people. There are a couple of passionate professional fitness enthusiasts who consistently try to change that negative narrative by showing us how fun and simple, a fitness routine can be. They guide and motivate individuals to train towards their physical fitness goals. One of those people is Shiv Simani.

Shiv Simani’s approach to being a fitness influencer is simple yet incredibly effective; creating fun and relatable content that motivates his audience achieve their body goals and live a healthy lifestyle. With over 150,000 followers on social media, the father of two has built a successful career in not only being a fitness coach but also being a social media influencer.

Shiverenje Simani better known as ‘Shiv’ grew up in Nairobi having attended St. Nicholas’ Primary School and later proceeding to Lenana Secondary School. He then went to USIU-Africa university where he majored in hospitality management. He practiced hospitality for two years and then left to start fitness as a full time career just as his first daughter was almost being born. He is currently a certified Cross-Fit Level 1 trainer and a social media wellness content creator.
Since making the leap to being a fitness influencer, shiv has been able to consistently build up his brand and generate multiple income streams — from landing brand partnerships, to individual coaching sessions and working on his fitness project-Rotator. I spoke with him about how he turned his passion into a thriving business and what advice he could give us towards starting or improving our fitness journey.

Why did you decide to switch careers from Hospitality to Fitness & Wellness?

Well, to be honest, growing up, I always thought I would be a footballer. I was very active and loved being outdoors hence would always gravitate to anything that would involve physical activity. Hospitality was never a choice that I made voluntarily when it came to degree options. It was more circumstantial. I did it more, to tick a box rather than intentionally pursue a whole career on it. However, I was good at my job when I started on. There was nothing difficult about it but with time, I slowly realized that I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing and despite not having anything else to fall back on at the time, I needed to leave my job. Raising my little girl actually pushed me to make that decision. I didn’t want her to see me stuck in a job I didn’t particularly like. I felt that such an attitude would rub off on her. I wanted to show her that you truly do have choices in life and you don’t have to settle.

Were there any moments that you felt like giving up on your passion and instead go back to a 9-5 role?

Absolutely! I would be lying if I said no. There have been times when I have wished that I had a more stable job, getting a consistent pay cheque at the end of every month. Ps. I would still not go back to the hotel industry😁.

Fitness coaching, as a service is still relatively new and not many people have embraced it as they have other services. I usually joke around and say that fitness coaching right now, is where deejaying used to be 5-10 years back. Furthermore, most Kenyans are drawn to more curative than preventive services. For example, when you get sick, you easily go to a doctor yet very little thought goes to fitness and wellness which would have helped you prevent a lot of those health issues in the first place.

Despite all this, I usually sit and look back at how far I’ve come and quickly get my head back in the game. It’s all about discipline and self-motivation.

How does a typical day look like for you?

I usually have very early mornings because I have clients who come in early for coaching sessions. I wake up at around 4:20 am and start my sessions from 5:15 am. Each session would probably take an hour long. Afterwards; I would have my own work out session between 8:15am to 9:30am. I’d then head back home to prepare for my morning walk. I usually walk my dog while at it as I also listen to podcasts or audio books.

From 10:30am, I usually catch up on the news, emails and social media as I take my breakfast. I also work on my content creation during that time all the way till 2pm after which I break for lunch. Sometimes my wife helps with that since we both work remotely. The afternoons are more or less free time for me where I spend with my family; either playing with my kids or the dog. In the evenings, I catch up on any pending projects thereafter I spend quality time with wife, Shiku.

What are you currently reading or listening to?

I usually do a lot of self help books and autobiographies. My current reads right now are The Daily Stoic and David Goggin’s Never Finished.

Do you have any tips for someone ‘lazy’ looking to start and maintain a fitness routine?

Firstly, start with the process in mind and not the end, which is a mistake that most people tend to make. It’s all about creating consistent daily habits. It could be as simple as going up and down a fleet of stairs daily.The time that you would have spent bumming and scrolling through social media you could take to walk for a couple of miles. There is also a lot of free content on simple work outs you can do from the comfort of your own home. Just get off the couch and start moving!

What are your thoughts on diet fads and quick weight loss fixes?

Honestly, I don’t believe in them. I think they are a waste of money simply because they are pretty useless once you have achieved your goal. Goals keep on changing. What then? So yes, you have a snatched waist, as per your goal. Now what? How do you maintain that? That’s where lifestyle comes in. Instead of quick fixes, I usually advocate for a total lifestyle change so that it is sustained over time. The question then becomes what are you doing every day to look and feel better?

In terms of nutrition, are there foods you would advice people not to eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle

Not really. Generally, I would advocate for moderation instead. You can consume anything you want as long as it’s in moderation. However, there are some foods that I would really not recommend for people to consume that often. They include processed foods, alcohol and cigarettes. They wreak of chemicals and pose great harm to our bodies in the long term.

Just try to eat foods that are closest to its natural form as possible.

What are some of your favorite workouts to perform in the gym?

I tend to love full body workouts that comprise of cardio, explosive or weighted movements. A mix of everything basically, whether gymnastics or power lifting or even body building. I enjoy those kinds of work outs. On that note, I always advice my clients to train for what they want their body to look like. For example, if you want to look like a long distance runner then train like one. Same goes for a swimmer or a sprinter. You have to practice their techniques consistently to get a body like theirs. Most importantly, for you to learn which techniques that suit your body is precisely the reason why you need a trainer like me😎.

Do you have a favorite go-to healthy snack?

Fruits and nuts are good enough. It could be mangoes, bananas or apples. I also love full meals when time allows. It usually depends on what I’m doing at any one point in the day because I eat based on functionality; what I need from food at the time.

Besides fitness and wellness, what other passions do you have?

Dog training and Psychology. I also love content creation on social media

Who are some of your biggest inspirations in the industry?

I would say my coach,Bryant. He is the owner of FirstPower Fitness at Galleria Mall, Nairobi.

Which are some of the gyms you would recommend for us to go?

Based on my experience, I would recommend FirstPower Fitness at Galleria, Alpha Fit gym on Ngong road, VMX at Village market and Momentum in Westlands.

Where can we connect with you and what is a project that you are currently working on that we should keep an eye out for?

You can reach me on Instagram as @shivsimani and my official Gmail account for fitness inquiries is contact@shivsimani.com.
This year I’m intentionally working on my brand-Rotator which is basically a kick start e-book that is both a nutrition guide as well as a work out plan. You can get more information about it on my Instagram handle.