Kaisan Lewis knew he had to make a serious change.
Lewis, a sophomore business administration major, struggled to climb a flight of stairs and had high blood pressure and sugar levels all before entering middle school. Health complications from a young age forced him to step outside his comfort zone and make a physical transformation.
So Lewis, a Rockland County native, started hitting the gym. In August 2019, he founded @kay.fitnesslife, an Instagram account dedicated to posting workout videos and personal training tips for fellow UB students. Over the past year-and-a-half, Lewis has amassed more than 370 followers and engaged dozens of students with his tips and tricks.
Lewis says he didn’t grow up in an active family. He weighed 200 lb. in sixth grade and was diagnosed as a pre-diabetic. This designation became the catalyst for his fitness journey, one that started on YouTube and has now morphed into Instagram.
“My parents aren’t as active either, my brother was away at college, so no one was really around to help me [work out] like that,” Lewis said. “So what I started to [do] was watch YouTube videos to teach myself how to work out.”
Lewis was able to lose weight after heeding the advice of fitness gurus on YouTube, but he was unnerved to find himself becoming scrawny. During his junior year of high school, Lewis fell in love with weightlifting, which helped him coat his thin frame with muscle. Since he was previously sedentary, his peers took notice of how much progress he had made.
Then, something important happened.
Lewis’ parents wanted him to focus on his grades, which prevented him from getting a job. Without one, Lewis looked for other ways to make money. And so his entrepreneurial flare began to shine.
“By senior year, people began asking how I got so in shape,” Lewis said. “I started helping people, of course, for free at that time, and I really started to fall in love with it. So I was like, let me start doing this, just helping out people, and over the course of the summer I graduated high school, I was like, I want to make a business out of this.”
And thus, Kay Fitness was born.
Lewis’ program aims to keep people inspired and motivated while working toward their fitness goals. He first began training classmates back home, but after gaining a reputation, he began seeking out Buffalo-based clients and charging for sessions.
Kay Fitness offers individualized personal training and boxing lessons for $15 a session. Clients must participate in a minimum — costing $45.
Lewis requires clients to wear masks and trains a maximum of two clients at a time because of COVID-19. Lewis also offers online sessions for those who aren’t available for in-person workouts.
Lewis says the pandemic has inadvertently helped his business, as he has been able to maintain a clientele and has used these uncertain times as motivation to get creative with his instruction.
“I’ve still been able to make videos so people can watch and still get workouts in,” Lewis said. “I did a couple things that you can do quarantine-wise, so I did a series of workouts you can do literally in your room.”
Jason Cela, a sophomore economics major and one of Lewis’ clients, says Lewis is able to formulate solid workouts and nutrition plans based on individual needs.
“I’ve always wanted to get into shape and increase my strength but I never knew the proper forms or how to get started,” Cela said. “Kaisan is there to help me not only with my form but with my nutrition. He’s set up a nutrition and fitness plan for me. I’ve already seen progress in my strength and physique and would definitely recommend Kaisan to friends and family.”
Lewis not only offers individual workouts, but he also posted a series of workout videos on Instagram called “Campus Cardio,” which emphasize the importance of working out without equipment.
“Campus Cardio” shows students they can get fit anywhere, from a random bench near Greiner Hall to their dorm room. Lewis hopes to enhance a sense of community at UB by showing students they can work out with each other anywhere. With Lewis’ knowledge of fitness and nutrition programs, and his experience as an entrepreneur, he hopes to turn Kay Fitness into something bigger than a campus workout routine.
“In the future, when I can really do it full time, I want to own my own gym franchise,” Lewis said. “I want Kay Fitness to one day be big enough that there’s different branches throughout the whole country.”
As a short term goal, Lewis plans to start his own club at UB where members can work out together and he can offer a variety of workouts with a new fitness class each week. Lewis hopes to be set up by his senior year.
Although it can be hard or even intimidating to start a fitness journey, Lewis says he wants to help his fellow students with their challenges. He says he hopes to take what he learned and use it to help his fellow peers.
“Just never give up. I don’t want to say I was lonely, but I was alone in my journey,” Lewis said. “I didn’t have a trainer, but I pushed myself.”
Savannah Worth, a freshman medical technology major, says she appreciates Lewis’s compassion for his clients.
“Kaisan does not only care about your athletic goals but for you as a person,” Worth said. “It’s really easy to work with him because he’s gone through what I’m going through now [on my weight loss journey]. He never lets me get discouraged and is always ready to challenge you.”
Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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