Mapule Hilda Ndhlovu, ‘Queen Fitnass’ to her fans and followers is Africa’s first Women’s Health Nextfitness Star (2016). A personal trainer and ‘fitfluencer’, Mapule positively influences thousands of lives through her workouts and upbeat, confident attitude. But, as much as fitness is now an integral part of Mapule’s everyday life, this has not always been the case…
Born and raised in Alex, circumstances in Mapule’s life saw her moving around a lot. “I spent many years living between various homes, taking it in turns to live either with my mom, aunt, grandmother or family friends. As a result, I also changed schools very often. Sometimes I would spend two to three years in a school, but on other occasions only a few months. It made for a very disruptive life.”
“Despite growing up in a community where fitness and following a healthy, active lifestyle was not the top priority, I found myself drawn to running. It helped me to cope with everything that was going on around me. I would run, to escape the noise and demands. I would run, to escape what at times felt like a lack of direction in my life. Running helped me to connect to and feel my emotions, providing a release and a ‘space’ just for me.”
“After finishing High School in Brits, I returned to Alexandria in Johannesburg, with no job and what felt like little prospects. I had wanted to study clinical engineering, but with no access to funds, that was not possible. And so, to keep busy, I would help my grandmother in her day centre. I also joined the local gym where I signed up for an aerobics class.”
“It changed my life!”
“Not only did aerobics resonate with me, giving me the same kind of feeling I would get when running (except in a safer environment and off the roads), but on 10 March 2012, it provided the platform for where I find myself now.”
“The local gym had let us know that members of the Institute of Physical Fitness (IPF) would be paying the gym a visit that day (coincidentally also my birthday) and invited those who were able to take part in an exhibition class that morning.” And it was during this class that members of IPF noticed Mapule’s energy and her potential.
“I was offered a scholarship to study exercise science, leading to a further offer to study sports management. At the same time, I was offered a job as a fitness instructor at Broadacres Virgin Active in Fourways, where I now had the opportunity to work while studying. I then moved to the Alice Lane Virgin Active in Sandton, where after a while I set my sights on becoming a personal trainer.”
To generate extra funds for her studies in order to make this dream come true, Mapule knew she needed to save as much money as possible. This included any funds Mapule would have spent on public transport to get to work. And so, she ran, leaving Alex at 3am sharp every morning in order to run to Sandton to begin work at 4am.
As one of the first black female personal trainers at the Virgin Active Alice Lane Classic gym, and Africa’s first Women’s Health Nextfit Star in 2016, Mapule has never looked back, going on to gain international experience in other forms of group training (Group RX).
“Fitness is an integral part of my everyday life and has been for many years. I want to motivate young people around the country, but even more specifically from my own community in Alex. The principles of exercise directly relate to the principles of life. Discipline! Motivation! Consistency! With discipline and motivation, one’s mind works better, your confidence improves, and you can accomplish so much more, so much more easily.”
“Exercising, and applying the principles of exercise in everyday life, can help our youth live better lives, can help to make dreams come true.”
“Work hard! Stay in your lane! Do what you do best, all the time!”
Keep Going Mapule!