By Ahmad Jabr

KUWAIT: Edmond Gyekye, a fitness and bodybuilding coach based in Kuwait, has reached global recognition by following a simple rule: Exercise while having fun. But that wasn’t all – Gyekye has found a very rich and largely well-receptive social media scene in Kuwait to help him break into stardom. His way of promoting a proper exercise routine in a fun way has earned him a great following on social media – reaching nearly two million followers on Instagram in less than a year, and nearly one million followers on TikTok in a few months.

His videos — which mix informative and fun content — have become very popular; so much so that Hollywood’s top star Dwyane 'The Rock' Johnson has followed his Instagram account and commented on one of his videos. “That was the happiest day of my life,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it. It was a dream come true. His comment really helped me grow. It was as if he gave me his stamp of approval.”

Coach Edmond Gyekye training in the gym.

Gyekye, or ‘Coach Edmond’ as he likes people to call him, noticed that many people at the gym were performing their exercise routines wrong. While teaching people to exercise with the proper form, he got the idea to make videos and upload them on social media. The idea itself isn’t new, but Edmond decided to add his own twist to it: In his videos, Gyekye approaches a trainee doing his exercise, makes his signature ‘arm-swipe’ gesture indicating that the trainee is performing the exercise wrongly, then proceeds to teach him how to do the exercise properly – all in a comical and entertaining way.

When he first started posting his videos, ‘Coach Edmond’ only had around 2,000 followers on Instagram, but his followship reached 1.8 million in less than a year. This inspired him to set up channels on YouTube and TikTok to appeal to a larger audience. “I found more success on Instagram,” he said. “I think attracting followers on Instagram is more challenging compared to TikTok. On Instagram, there are more professional people who leave comments, both positive and negative, whereas on TikTok, you get more likes than comments, so it’s easier to deal with the audience there.”

Gyekye realizes that social media has been huge in helping him promote his brand. “Social media is one of the main ways for promotion in the world now. Without social media, I wouldn’t have been able to promote myself till now. It did help me a lot in terms of growth and advancing my career.” Gyekye is grateful for the positive feedback he’s received from followers in Kuwait, saying it helped him reach success. “I thank all my followers for their support and for accepting me for the way I am,” he said.


‘Impressive’ bodybuilding scene

Hailing from Ghana, Gyekye, 33, is a 16-year veteran of the bodybuilding sport who has called Kuwait his home for the past eight years. “I’ve been working for 16 years in fitness, starting in my home country of Ghana before moving to Kuwait eight years ago. I’ve worked in many gyms in Kuwait, and was able to create good relations with many people here. Most people in the local bodybuilding scene know me,” he said.

“Compared to my country, Kuwait is more professional when it comes to fitness and bodybuilding. I prepared myself for this. An important aspect of bodybuilding is how to grow, especially with diet and exercise. I’ve invested in myself a lot to reach this level, and the environment here in Kuwait has been very helpful. I’m still growing, because learning has no limits,”Gyekye said.

Hussein Behbehani posing in the gym.

‘Coach Edmond’ describes Kuwait’s bodybuilding scene as one of the most impressive he’s ever seen. “Bodybuilding is one of the most popular sports in Kuwait. They love bodybuilding here,” he told Kuwait Times. “I’m surprised by how dedicated people are here, especially when you compare it to other countries. People come to the gym even at 1 am or 3 am. I really love the way they enjoy the sport and make it their lifestyle. I’m really impressed. Especially the youth — they love fitness. The younger generation are more aware and understand the importance of fitness.”

One of those people is Hussein Behbehani, a 20-year-old Kuwaiti who has been training with Gyekye for much of his young bodybuilding career. “I started bodybuilding three years ago as I was turning 18,” he said. “I liked the aspect of seeing the change in my body; it really inspired me to keep going and keep working hard.”

Experiencing positive change motivates Behbehani to always find time for working out. In fact, he says once he decided to follow a healthy lifestyle, it wasn’t difficult for him to manage his time between studying and exercise. “I made time for [exercise]. I made a schedule and follow it strictly,” he said. While many people may find it more difficult to continue once they start, Bebehani believes focusing and patience can give you the push you need to keep going. “Ignore people who talk bad about you,” he said. “Don’t listen to them. Keep going to the gym, keep chasing your dream and don’t give up.”



‘Fitness is important’

Kuwait has one of the world’s highest diabetes and obesity rates. Many people would often say they struggle to make time or energy to exercise regularly. Gyekye says that people don’t need to focus on reaching the perfect body shape to start following a healthier lifestyle. “Fitness is important. You don’t need to care mainly about building the muscles or bodybuilding, because fitness is more important,” he said. “There is a saying that goes ‘prevention is better than the cure’. We need to take care of what we eat, follow a healthy lifestyle and take good care of our bodies to live longer.”


Once you reach your goal, the only logical step is to ask yourself, what’s next? When asked about his future plans, Gyekye says the sky is the limit. “No one knows what happens tomorrow,” he said. “Life is a journey, and only Allah knows the destiny.” But for now, ‘Coach Edmond’ says he’s enjoying his time in Kuwait; a country he says has been very welcoming and which he is proud of the relations and friendships he’s made in. “I like the culture. I like the ‘straightforwardness’ in Kuwait. Follow the laws and you’re safe,” he said.