Hayes Kanyike of GainsApp On the 5 Things You Need to Create a Highly Successful Career in the Health and Wellness Industry
Know how to market yourself. I personally focused on a style of functional movements and I never used weights. It was easy for me to market myself as the person who offers a great workout from anywhere without weights.
The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. At the same time, so many people are needed to help provide these services. What does it take to create a highly successful career in the health and wellness industry?
In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry” we are talking to health and wellness professionals who can share insights and stories from their experiences.
In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Hayes Kanyike.
Hayes Kanyike is a well-known business executive, fitness provider and entrepreneur in the tri-state area who has made significant contributions to the communities he serves. He is the owner of Hayes Fitness and the founder of Gains App Inc.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you grew up?
I was born in Kampala, Uganda and migrated to the states with my parents and two brothers at the age of 11. I grew up in the Hudson Valley region in Poughkeepsie, New York. I grew up fast and by the time I was 18, both of my parents were deceased. I had to learn how to earn a living and take on adult responsibilities at a very young age. My upbringing played a large role in shaping who I am today.
Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in?
There was not a particular person, it was a challenging life experience that influenced my motivation to go all in. I was incarcerated for a white collar crime in 2009, and during that time I initially started training to pass the time. Then I realized that the more I trained, the better I felt about my situation. Under those dark circumstances, depression is almost inevitable and I witnessed a lot of that. Fortunately for me, I was able to avoid that because I found balance through a wellness focused lifestyle.
Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?
I don’t stick to the same routine or variation when it comes to training. I keep my body guessing and never allow it to get too comfortable. With that being said, you can never go wrong with the basics like push ups, pull ups, squats and core exercises. In terms of foods, I eat steel cut oats almost every day.
To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?
While I was incarcerated I spent 13 months fighting my case and during that time, I turned to fitness for peace and balance. I started to train other inmates for a fee and then I took on correction officers as clients. I had such a strong following after my release that I decided to open my first gym.
Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
The biggest challenge for me was keeping up with demand. I had to learn how to say NO and how to delegate. Many of us go into business wishing for success but if it comes too fast and you don’t have a system in place to keep up with demand, that could be problematic. When I opened up my first fitness studio, Hayes 4 Fitness, I was the owner and the employee that provided the personal training, group classes and additionally I made the post workout shakes. I was very good at playing all 3 roles but it wasn’t sustainable. Eventually, I hired additional staff members but clients would still request appointments with me. Getting clients to adapt to working with my team of trainers after being used to working with me for a while was a challenge.
Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
I’m launching the GainsApp in fall of 2022. It’s literally the most important piece of technology to hit the fitness community. It’s offering personal trainers a new revenue stream and the flexibility to make their schedule. We’re connecting the global fitness community and rewarding them at the same time.
It’s a first of its kind mobile app that allows users to create, compete and get paid from live fitness competitions. GainsApp has 3 types of users: competitors, judges and spectators. Competitors are able to enter fitness challenges and can livestream from literally anywhere for a chance to win the cash in the pot. Judges are able to create fitness challenges and determine the winner for a percentage of the cash in the pot. Spectators can watch, follow and place bets on their favorite competitors and judges. They’re all able to earn money while being part of a community of like-minded fitness enthusiasts.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
The GainsApp is really exciting because it offers a truly level playing field for all competitors regardless of gender, allowing them to decide for themselves with whom to compete within any fitness challenge (with no built-in advantage or disadvantage for any one competitor).
Bets must be placed on a competitor before the challenge is live (vs. during). Betters can also track their favorite competitors so they always know when they’re competing to place upcoming bets. It’s the only live competitive fitness social media app and all users get paid. It’s creating a new revenue stream for the fitness industry.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Resilience. In order to be successful at anything, you must capable of working through setbacks. I couldn’t get bank financing to open up my business. I did not have friends or family with money to invest. I could’ve easily just pursued something else that came with little to no barrier of entry but I stayed the course, continued training and saved my money until I was able to open up my first fitness studio.
- Ability to put your team first. My first few months as an employer I did not make a profit. I did not take a salary for a full year but I made sure that I made payroll and my staff never went without pay. As a leader, I know how important it is to put your team first and not focus entirely on my needs.
- Vision. To scale a business, you need to have a vision. When my personal training and group class side of the business grew, I added a juice bar. When non-clients started coming for juices, I added a delivery service. Fast forward to COVID when in person training was shutdown due to mandatory lockdowns, and I came up with GainsApp to keep the fitness community connected, active and still earning a living.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?
Wellness encompasses balance of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. In the beginning, it was frustrating to see other fitness boutiques pretending to be about wellness but all they were really doing was providing exercise equipment. I felt like the public was being robbed from a true wellness experience and this propelled me to go into the fitness business. It was not about the money for me, I genuinely wanted to enhance an individuals quality of life.
As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?
As much as I’d like to give you a why, the truth is, that why can only come from you. Wellness does not have to be sold, it sells itself. It’s like asking someone to give a reason as to why you should choose to live versus perish. Those who don’t prioritize wellness have only chosen to prioritize other things.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?
I work in the wellness space, therefore my company and employees have been mindful of a healthy lifestyle both before, during and after COVID.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
- Strong understanding of nutrition. I once knew someone that worked as a trainer in a gym and he would recommend the same meal plan to all his clients. He’s no longer working in the wellness space.
- Strong understanding of physiology. If you don’t know your muscle groups and how they respond to movement, you probably won’t get far.
- Knowing how to create individualized exercises. Coming up with your own style of training filled with unique exercises will separate you from the crowd.
- Know how to market yourself. I personally focused on a style of functional movements and I never used weights. It was easy for me to market myself as the person who offers a great workout from anywhere without weights.
- Offer value. In the beginning of my journey, I was helping clients reach their goals before I even collected a penny for my services.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Do 10 push ups a day and I’ll send you $10!
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Peter Thiel, Bill Ackman and Joe De Sena. They are all very smart and leaders in their industries. Peter Thill got me to never think of the competition, only focus on dominating your industry. I wish to one day understand finance on a Bill Ackman level. A private breakfast would be a good start. Joe De Sena founded Spartan Race, I thought I was the only one with this limitless mentality before I found out about him. It’ll be great to meet and do 500 burpees just before breakfast.
Thank you so much for these wonderful insights!