Lifestyle personal trainer Daddy Kabuiku has kept his clients going through each lockdown. Or is it the other way round? Here he explains why it’s not just physical fitness that’s important
For fitness trainer Daddy Kabuiku, the relationship between him and his clients is not all one way traffic. They are also giving something back, in return. The ‘Train for Life’ personal trainer based in Norwich says: ‘Because of the community I have with my clients they help me keep on going during the pandemic.’ Daddy started working in personal fitness 10 years ago and is level 4 – the highest level of industry recognition. Although he says: ‘I’ve been in fitness all my life. I’m now 46.’
A competitive spirit, Daddy is a Thai Boxing Black belt, and a Brazilian Jui Jitsu Brown belt who has experienced success at both, at national and European level. The former semi-professional football is also a qualified football coach. ‘For me exercise is part of my life,’ says Daddy. ‘And exercise makes me a better person – it’s as simple as that.’
In an all too familiar 2020 tale, all was going well for Daddy and his fitness training business at the start of last year. He had been based at 24/7 Fitness in Riverside, Norwich (which then became Pure Gym in February). ‘I’d been working there for eight years. I was doing well,’ he says. And then lockdown started. ‘When the whole thing happened nobody really knew what tomorrow would bring – it was unknown for everyone.’
He launched his online fitness classes on March 22, a day before the first lockdown was officially announced, complete with HIIT, kettlebell and bodyweight sessions. Plus, he offered free PE sessions for kids and family, and also seniors. From the safety of his own house, or garden, he was able to offer live online personal training either one-to-one or small virtual groups. He says: ‘The good thing was my client base didn’t vanish. In fact, I would say the opposite – I have had a very high retention. The community kind of grew for me. It’s just that there were moments at the beginning that were really difficult.’
His loyal Train for Life ‘crew’, as he refers to them, have stuck with him and, he would go as far as to say, ‘saved’ him. And it’s proving to be a mutually beneficial relationship between trainer and client. Not only did they ‘food on my table,’ he says, they have also offered support.
A core group of clients who started sessions with Daddy at the start of last year (including Jodie Huggins – see case study below) have been especially supportive. ‘We have a strong relationship,’ he says. He adds: ‘It’s not just me doing things for them – we are doing things for each other.’
People such as Jodie have described him as a lifeline. He would describe himself as a lifestyle personal trainer and for good reason. ‘Fitness is not just physical. We are talking about physical, mental and emotional fitness. To run or lift a weight is the easy thing. We need to sort out our lifestyle. What we really want is to feel good.’
Daddy admits there have been times when he’s felt ‘really down’ and adds: ‘There was one day when somebody reminded me that ‘you need to be yourself – it’s OK to feel low and it’s OK to ask for help’.
‘When I don’t feel well physically, I’m a bit down,’ says Daddy. ‘For me, a good day is when I go to bed and I’m thinking about what kind of training I’m going to be doing the following morning. If I manage to start my day training, my day is going to look better.’ The husband and father of two boys (being home-schooled along with everyone else at the moment) makes the point: ‘If I put myself first, I can give the best of myself to others.’
Explaining why his brand is called Train for Life, he says: ‘My job is to train people for life and the vehicle I’m using is fitness. The oldest person I train must be 70-something and I train four-year-olds, in football. The message is the same: I always talk about core values, all the values that are important in real life.’
And he reiterates that two-way relationship again. ‘When you are sweating and suffering with someone, you know they have got your back. These are the kind of people I want to be with because they haven’t chosen the easy way.’
Daddy’s free Train for Life Senior PE sessions have returned for lockdown 3 and can be found on Facebook, live on a Tuesday, and recorded on a Wednesday and Thursday. For all other sessions, the first session is free. Visit www.trainforlifeuk.com
I started training with Daddy in Jan 2020 – way before we could even imagine what the year would bring to us. I initially joined his spinning, kettlebell and hit classes which I could do in my lunch hour as the gym was opposite my office. The sessions were tough, really tough but left me with a real sense of achievement and I quickly became hooked. His approach was straight talking, no nonsense and he pushed us all hard. I quickly felt part of a community with the other people I trained with and could feel my fitness and strength improving with each week.
As we got into March and lockdown loomed we talked about how we could maintain this progress if gyms were to shut. We all wanted to continue and realised training at home was the only way.
Daddy set up zoom classes six times a week and we were able to use the kettlebells and dumbbells as usual and he adapted the workouts to our environment. I always felt completely confident under Daddy’s instruction as he watched us carefully and gave us the same instruction and guidance as if we were training face to face.
He was always available with advice and encouragement during the classes and via phone or facetime throughout the week. Being in lockdown meant I could increase my training to six times a week.
Having this routine helped my mental health as well as my physical health enormously. And in a world that felt chaotic and out of control, I was able to feel that these classes provided me with some routine and sense of purpose.
The sense of community was so amazing. Seeing familiar faces each day and having unwavering support really kept me going. I’m not sure how I would have coped with the last year without Daddy’s classes.
The year 2020 brought the sudden death of my lovely mum, redundancy, a fallen through house sale , home schooling and isolation from my friends and family.
But Daddy was there at the same time each day without fail with his support and advice. For 30 minutes a day I could take my mind somewhere else and test my physical strength as well as my mental strength. I’ll be forever grateful to him.