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‘I don’t want to be like other people’

Last update - Thursday, December 10, 2009, 17:08 By Metro Éireann

Nigerian native Joshua Okpere tells Lucille Pestre how his bodybuilding hobby turned into a job with his new fitness centre in Dundalk

Just one glance at Joshua Okpere’s impressive frame, and you can tell that he puts in a lot of hours at the gym.
Indeed, the 36-year-old Nigerian has practiced bodybuilding three or four times a week for the last 17 years.
So it’s not surprising to learn that he’s recently turned his hobby into a full-time job, with his own fitness club at The Brewery Business Park in Dundalk.
“Bodybuilding and fitness are my hobbies, but I’ve always wanted to manage a fitness club,” he says about his venture.
Okpere began practicing bodybuilding early on, when he was just 15 years old. “I looked around me and I saw that many people are weak,” he recalls, on what sparked off his interest. “I decided that I wouldn’t be like that. I don’t want to be like other people.
“I have a lot of energy inside me. So I decided to be a bodybuilder. I started training regularly and automatically it became my hobby.”
Though he studied accountancy at university in Nigeria, Okpere went on to gain valuable experience in fitness training in Germany, where he lived with his family for 18 years. He took lessons in a gym once a week, and also ran his first fitness club there.
Nineteen months ago, he decided to move to Ireland for a change of pace, and his new business is now going strong.
Open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 10pm and on Sundays from 11am to 8pm, Okpere’s club provides machines optimised for working every part of the body.
The owner is present during the day for training and teaching club members, giving them exercises to strengthen their muscles.
“I show them how to use the machines. I give them advice and I also encourage them,” he says.
The club has a wide variety of members of different backgrounds, from 18-year-old students to middle-aged office workers. “I think Irish people like sport,” he observes.
When he gets some downtime at the club, Okpere takes the opportunity to get his own training done. But when he’s away from the gym and not working out, the father-of-two likes to read and meet new people.
“I love everything about my job,” Okpere smiles. “It could be the freedom that I have, but my job just makes me happy. I like seeing people around me being fit, and that’s just why I decided to turn my hobby into my job.”
He adds: “I think everybody needs to be fit and strong. I can help people to become strong and stay fit.”

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