(Xinhua) -- Rick Davies returned to Kenya in
1981 after completing his studies at the Schiller
International University and also with the Nautilus
Institute based in Florida, USA.
His father, a renowned tennis coach,
in 1980 conceived the idea of opening a gym in the
country after his many travels across the globe and
seeing first class training facilities he visited when
he was manager and captain of the Kenya Davis Cup team.
The family invested 100,000 U.S.
dollars to set up the first professional gym in Kenya
after placing an order for 20 state-of-the-art machines
with the founder of Nautilus, Arthur Jones.
“That was a very big order; heavy
solid machines - not the commercial type found in many
gyms around. To lift even one machine would require six
people,” Davies told Xinhua.
The machines arrived in July 1982 and
the dream of motivating Kenyans to keep fit became a
“After that, many gyms opened, but
Nautilus Health and Fitness Center was the frontrunner
and led the way locally in the keep-fit craze that
existed in many parts of the world,” Davies stated.
He said more people began to realize
that they needed to pay more attention to their body in
the form of diet and exercise if they wanted to continue
to enjoy life.
“At the same time, I was of the
impression that Kenya had somehow remained isolated from
the problem and that people enjoyed healthy lifestyle.
However, upon my return, I discovered that not only the
concept of exercising to keep fit and health alien to
the average Kenyan, but there was also total lack of
facilities such as a gym or health club for use to keep
people in shape,” Davies said.
He operated the iconic facility for 33
years before closing down on Sept.30, 2015 after making
Kenyans sweat for a healthy and fit lifestyle.
During its heyday, the club at one
time played host to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his
sister Nyokabi Kenyatta who trained there in the 1980s.
Several sports icons like former world
marathon champion, Douglas Wakiihuri; multiple All
Africa Games tennis gold medalist, Jane Davies; and
former women’s boxing sensation Conjestina Achieng, all
had onced trained there.
“We closed down after three decades
mainly because the premises changed hands,” the fitness
Davies relocated to the JD Tennis
Academy at a leafy suburb in Nairobi where currently
runs the facility on full-time basis.
In 2016, the facility became the first
to lay the rubberized cushion built-in court system akin
to the one used for the Australian Open in Melbourne.