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Ugandan Refugee Helps Keep Poughkeepsie In Shape

Hayes Kanyike
Hayes Kanyike Photo Credit: Contributed

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Fleeing Uganda as a refugee at 11. Orphaned at 17. Poughkeepsie resident Hayes Kanyike knows all about overcoming adversity and achieving hard-fought goals.

Kanyike runs Hayes4Fitness, a wellness studio in downtown Poughkeepsie at 35 Main Street. Kanyike helps others overcome their adversities and reach their goals by promoting a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

In Uganda, Kanyike's father was a prominent musician who ran into trouble with Idi Amin's cabinet. Members of his father's band were assassinated and his family left Uganda, settling in a church in Poughkeepsie.

Kanyike's mom passed away when he was 12 and his dad passed away at 17. Kanyike soon found himself the man of the house.

"You grow up pretty quickly," Kanyike said. "I was 17 and making funeral arrangements. We had to go to work."

As he got older, Kanyike wondered if his parents would still be alive if they had lived a healthier lifestyle.

"Maybe this could've been prevented," Kanyike said. "That stayed with me. I have to make my health a priority. I have to take care of my body."

Kanyike studied exercise and nutrition at Kaplan and would often be seen around Poughkeepsie working out.

"I never went to the gym," Kanyike said. "I was outdoors. I would be doing pull-ups on the monkey bars in parks. People started to join me and it dawned me that I might be a trainer."

Building up an array of clients, Kanyike opened up his first space on Main Street in 2014. It didn't go very well and he soon had to close.

"I lost everything," Kanyike said. "I had to build everything back up. I even considered leaving the area."

Kanyike's now-girlfriend found him another spot on Main Street, by the train station. But Kanyike wasn't ready yet.

"I lied and told her I looked at it," Kanyike said. "But three weeks later I actually went to look at it and I realized how perfect the location was. You can do exercises right on the waterfront."

When he meets with prospective clients, Kanyike finds out what they want to accomplish and assesses where they are at and how they can achieve their goals.

"I don't like to just say eat this, eat that," Kanyike said. "I like to inform people. I put together a plan that coincides with your fitness approach and activity level. People feel they can exercise and continue to eat a certain way because they are exercising. That won't get you where you want to go."

Kanyike said clients also make the mistake of going on a diet by eliminating a certain nutrient, but Kanyike said your body needs nutrients like proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Seeing his clients achieve their fitness goals is something that never gets old for Kanyike.

"I live for that," Kanyike said. "Every time it happens, it's like it's happening for the first time. It makes me feel a lot better when people are blown away by their progress."

For more information on Hayes4Fitness, visit www.hayes4fitness.com or contact (845) 345-9892

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