Throughout the week, from 7pm to 8pm, it is hard to miss the loud music that plays at The Lord’s Gym at Joka’s hotel in Bweyogerere, a city suburb. The music will play in the background while a group of individuals perform uniform exercise routines under the guidance of Henry Kabaseke Mukasa, their fitness trainer.
One Saturday evening, I found six men and two women, under dancing to various songs. “Dance… dance…dance…” Mukasa shouted to the group, “I want to see you sweating out all the fats…dance!”
Mukasa kept guiding them on what dance moves to engage in as the song played until the end. One could tell that the group were enjoying themselves as they continuously laughed at each other’s dance strokes.
Thereafter, the instructor went on to play other songs as the group did body stretching and weight lifts. By the end of the class, Mukasa was exhausted and requested we have the interview the following day, a Sunday. We met at 10am at the same venue.
Mukasa started the conversation by mentioning that he has been a fitness trainer for more than 15 years. Part of his workouts include dancing, boxing, push-ups, squats, lifting weights, jogging and cycling, among other forms of exercise.
“This is what I teach participants during our fitness trainings,” he says. Mukasa only schedules his classes in the evening. A few years ago, he tried setting up a few classes in the morning but these were hardly attended. He stuck to only having evening fitness classes.
His source of inspiration
One of the most fascinating aspects about Mukasa is his upper body. His biceps are well-built. “They are this big because I have lifted weights for more than 10 years,” he says,
On whether the 38-year-old loves his physique, Mukasa responds, “Of course, I love my frame because it has enabled me get a few security job offers, where I have earned some money.”
Some of these few job security offers include working as a bodyguard to a few high-profile clients overseeing security at social events, including introductions and wedding ceremonies.
“I have been a bodyguard for some popular individuals whose names I cannot mention because of confidentiality agreements, and, the reason I have been hired is because of my intimidating appearance,” he says, adding, “ but I have also presided over security at events by ensuring that no one causes chaos. If anyone tries to interrupt an event I am at, I always intimidate them using my body and surprisingly, it always works.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, an actor famous for his leading roles in the movies, Commando and Terminator, is one of Mukasa’s inspirations when it comes to body and physique. “I used to watch Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movies because of his body. His shape always made him deal with the bad guys and it was what motivated me to work for a similar body,” he says.
Besides Schwarzenegger, Mukasa who weighs 120 kilogrammes, also derives his inspiration from Billy Wayne Blanks, an American fitness instructor and martial artist. “Blanks has a few fitness videos online that I watch from time to time. They include him doing extensive training in martial arts (combined styles practiced for self-defense as well as mental and spiritual development, among other reasons). I have learnt a few of these techniques that I incorporate into my fitness workouts and classes,” he says.
Regarding what challenges he faces on the job, Mukasa says the money he gets as a fitness trainer is not enough to cater for his needs. “For every session at my gym, I only charge Shs7,000. And some people do not want to pay for the fitness classes while others will want to pay less,” he says.
Regardless of whether one is a client or friend, Mukasa always insists on payment as it is the only way he is able to foot personal bills and put food on the table.
Mukasa says he also faces a challenge with some unprofessional clients who are fond of inviting him to their homes, reasoning that they want him to help out as a fitness trainer, yet, they have other intentions.
“There have been incidences in the past where women have invited me to their homes to help out with particular workouts. However, upon reaching the venue, they divert the topic to talking about their feelings or provoking me to touch some part of their body,” Mukasa says.
For this reason, Mukasa says he now insists that clients find him at the gym for all training sessions. In the near future, the father of one hopes to expand his gym to accommodate more equipment as well as a bigger number of fitness lovers.
Breakfast: Mukasa says he usually eat fruits such as bananas, apples. “I may eat them alone or blend together into juice. In addition, I take a cup of hot water as a way of cleansing my stomach. I am accustomed to taking a mixture of soya porridge and milk. Even during my workouts, it is what I take to boost my energy levels,” he says.
Lunch: Mukasa says: “I eat whatever is there, be it posho, sweet potatoes, rice, cassava, matooke with any kind of sauce including beans, greens, chicken, and fish. I do not like eating meat or groundnut paste that much.”
Supper: Mukasa says he tries to refrain from eating too much food in the night. Instead, he may eat a fruit for example, banana or apple, with a cup of tea mixed with honey.