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Ghanaian Fitness Guru Yoofi Monney on an Immigrant’s Journey, Fitness and Healthy Habits

Mar 26, 2022 12:00PM ● By Nana Ama Addo

A Ghanaian proverb says “Obi nnim obrempon ahyease/No one knows the beginning of a great man”. When immigrants arrive in the United States, the chance for a better life and the vigor to succeed can be powerful catalysts for transformation, and overshadow the hurdles one may face. To encourage perseverance, entrepreneurship, and health, we are exploring an immigrant’s journey of success in the health and fitness field. 

Yoofi Monney is a California-based Ghanaian fitness guru who moved to the US from Ghana as a child. Through his experiences, Yoofi has learned valuable lessons and transformed his pain into power by cultivating community through his fitness business, Monney Training.


As a young immigrant, Yoofi experienced being an outsider at a young age. In describing the beginning of his journey in America, Yoofi says:

“Moving from Ghana to the US at the age of 5 was a huge shock for me. It was pretty difficult since a huge majority of my family is in Ghana. My family and I didn’t have much, but we were very optimistic since America was the country of opportunity. I moved to Philadelphia, and because most of the kids looked like me (I lived in a predominantly black area), I thought it would be easier to connect and find friends. I was wrong.

It was difficult for me to connect or relate with other kids at that young age, and I didn't understand why. At the age of 8, I moved from Philadelphia to Glendale, California. I was bullied from ages 8 to 12, and it was extremely challenging but it taught me a lot. The most notable was that it taught me to treat everyone with compassion and respect, which I make sure to do to this day.

Once I got to middle school, I was starting to connect with other kids, and as time went by, the bullying stopped and I found myself making a lot of friends. I moved again, to San Dimas, California and by then I found it easy to connect with people and make friends through high school and college. One of the reasons I started personal training was because it was an easy way to connect with people and earn their trust so I could help them.”


Shifting from a country with a communal culture like Ghana to a drastically different culture of individuality in the United States may be a challenging adjustment. Yoofi describes experiencing this change as a culture shock:

“The biggest cultural shock for me was realizing how mean and distant some people in America can be. In Ghana, the people are so inviting and friendly, but in America, it felt like people didn’t really like me early on even despite being pretty shy as a kid.”

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Yoofi’s fitness journey had a monumental impact on the course of his life. In recanting his athletic journey, he says:

“I started my athletic journey in middle school by playing basketball, and I joined the track team once I got to high school. I then earned a track scholarship to compete at Cal Poly Pomona, which I eventually quit to focus on my studies. Once I wasn't an athlete anymore, I had to fill that void, and I ended up falling in love with health and fitness. I found it to be a stress reliever early on, and it became my passion to stay fit and also help people reach their fitness goals.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says physical activity is an imperative aspect of maintaining physical health. In describing some of the benefits of practicing healthy habits and fitness, Yoofi says: “Staying on top of your health and fitness can help increase one’s quality of life from a mental and physical point of view. Staying active and developing healthy habits can even help keep you healthy as you get older. I always say ‘you only have one body so take good care of it’.

You’d be surprised how many problems can stem from a lack of exercise or living a sedentary lifestyle. Trust me I’ve seen it all. Make the change today and your future you will thank you!”

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Yoofi helps people improve their fitness journeys through advice and training. He defines a healthy lifestyle as:

“Staying active and eating healthy foods. Staying active does not always mean going to the gym and lifting weights. Anyone can stay active by just moving. I try to educate all my clients on that. Anyone can take 10-20 mins out of their day to go for a walk, or just get up and move their body. Getting up and just moving is one of the best ways to start becoming more active.”

Yoofi provides fitness tips for people who are looking to start a healthier and more active lifestyle:


“Don’t be intimidated, it’s ok to start small and build from there. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Do what you can and build from there. Reach out to a local trainer, gym, or nutritionist if you need extra help!

You can not outwork bad nutrition. What that means is that you can stay active, but if your nutrition isn’t very good, you may slow your progress or remain stagnant. I tell all my clients that whatever your fitness goals are, 9 out of 10 times it will rely 80% on what you are putting into your body.

My last tip would be to just start. I see a lot of people who are hesitant to start or feel like they’re too busy to start. If it’s really that hard, then start with just taking 5-10 mins out of your day, then as that gets easy, increase it to 10-20, and so on. Constantly putting it off just delays you from being the healthiest you. Put your health first.”

Read “National Nutrition Month: Advancing Nutrition for Black Communities”:

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Learn more about Yoofi’s journey at his personal Instagram: @yoofimonney or work/fitness Instagram: @monneytraining.


Works Cited

 Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director, and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Nana Ama tells stories of entrepreneurship and Ghana repatriation at her brand, Asiedua’s Imprint ).

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