Nigeria: #Under30EntrepreneursInNigeria – ‘You Can Have Your Dream Body By Exercising, Eating Right’ – Fitness Trainer Alessandra

“Money is not the end game for a fitness enthusiast, you have got to love it with all of your heart.”

The first of five children, 25-year-old Alessandra Ibegbulem is the Fitness Director at ‘The Elysian Body‘ an online fitness and wellness brand. Alessandra not only works out personalised fitness plans for her clients, but she also offers healthy food plans on request and follows up on their progress in their fitness journeys.

One of the things that makes this brand stand out is its credence that while you can have general fitness programmes to keep fit, you also have the choice to work on your body, a part at a time.


PT: How and when did you begin your fitness craft? Was it something you planned to do or you just stumbled on the idea?

Alessandra: I have always been a fitness enthusiast even when I did not know the term “fitness”. I like to eat healthily – something I learnt from my mum. So when I ventured into it properly as a business, it was not like I was doing something new, only that I had to broaden my knowledge of it.

No, it wasn’t planned.

I started this brand in 2020, during the COVID lockdown. I knew that staying home that long, I was going to gain weight if I did not work out and eat healthy. One of the ways that kept me going was making fitness posts on my Facebook timeline, which surprisingly motivated some people. And then out of the blue, someone offered to pay for my services and to create a workout plan for her. That was how I began to put a fee to it.

PT: At what point did you decide you were going to make a business of it, you know, get a business name, get a group for those who have enrolled on the plan, and so on?

Alessandra: The plan was to do this until the lockdown was over but the messages I got made me realise that I was helping a lot of people who battled with their weight, not just physically but mentally as well. So I continued and I am so glad that I did.

PT: What inspired the name Elysian?

Alessandra: When I started actively working out, I began to feel at peace with my body. This is because I started to understand a lot of things about my body and how, generally, bodies differ.

The word Elysian means a lot of things but one meaning that resonates with how I feel about my body and how ALL of my clients feel about theirs is, Peace. Hence the motto, “Let Your Body Be At Elysian”.

PT: What attracted me to your videos and posts was the fact that you embodied the idea that one can work on one part of the body at a time. I have seen you talk about flat tummy and abs, thigh gaps, and apple-shaped bum, with results. This is not common. How were you able to create this niche for yourself? How did you get here?

Alessandra: When I moved from making random fitness posts to business, I knew I had to broaden my knowledge of fitness. So I took courses, read a lot of fitness and health books. Looked at my environment – Nigeria and created a programme suitable for everyone and anybody, especially if you are on a budget. And with a little bit from here and there, I was able to create my routine that has served a thousand-plus people since 2020.

PT: How has the journey been, so far? How has the acceptance been?

Alessandra: So far, so good. Many of my audience who had no or little interest or idea when it came to fitness have evolved over the years with me. It’s been amazing to see.

PT: How did your family take your decision to pursue this line of business?

Alessandra: They were not surprised actually, because, like I said, my mum was a key part of my fitness and healthy lifestyle.

I tried getting admission into the university for five years but circumstances were tough – so I took a pause on education and that was actually when The Elysian Body became a brand.

I took online courses on social media marketing, fitness training, weight loss and weight gain and nutrition.

Do I plan on furthering my education later on? Yes, I do.

PT: How would you describe running a fitness business in Nigeria?

Alessandra: Since 2020, fitness has taken a drastic turn in Nigeria. The number of people who are into it now is very encouraging.

PT: On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate Nigerians’ interest in fitness?

Alessandra: Umm! I would say six because not so many people know that you can eat your everyday Nigerian food and still stay fit.

On that note, it has been sort of a struggle to push it out to a lot of people because most people I meet have this notion of “na fat I fat, I no kill person,” when in fact, being fat does not mean you are unfit. And there is the problem of affordability as well.

We have a long way to go on this in Nigeria.

PT: Where do you see your business in five years?

Alessandra: Hopefully, The Elysian Body would have a space which would have a gym centre, spa, nutrition bay, dance studio and health centre.

This means it would be on the lips of every home cause the idea of The Elysian Body is to teach Nigerians, no matter what budget they are on, that they can keep fit.

PT: If you were to get a grant, what part of the business would you be expanding?

Alessandra: I would expand my online presence as a fitness trainer and consultant to start with. Then I’ll make educative videos and content to keep pushing the brand because fitness is beyond weight gain and weight loss.

There are a lot of untapped parts of it I would like to share with the world, and with monetary support, would reach a lot of people and would help them feel good about themselves.

PT: Is there anything you wish you had known before you started this?

Alessandra: Umm, I don’t think so.

PT: Has there been any time you felt like quitting? How did you manage that phase?

Alessandra: Yes. Had a rocky shakedown in 2021 through 2022. How I left that phase was by working out. There were many times, I cried while working out. And I did not give up because many of my clients, who did not know, were encouraging with their reviews on how I kept them going.

PT: What advice would you give someone seeking to start this line of business?

Alessandra: You have got to love it with all of your heart. Money is not the end game for a fitness enthusiast.

PT: How do you relax?

Alessandra: Going to the gym, listening to music and dancing.


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