“Discovering Fitness Helped Me Achieve My Goals Despite The Odds”
In partnership with adidas; Photography by Donovon Thorne
When adidas locked onto the idea of ‘Sport has the power to change lives’, they recruited five our most-loved WH fit family to headline the campaign: Pop-Up Gym’s Letshego Zulu; Mapule Ndhlovu, Cara-Lisa Sham, Carmen Crous and Tracey-Lee Lusty. Whether sport changed their destiny or their health, eased their demons or vanquished their grief, their collective stories are so incredibly inspiring, we decided no amount of sharing them would be enough…
Sport was a foreign concept to Mapule Ndhlovu when she was growing up. The only sport she was exposed to was guys playing soccer. “No-one really cared,” she says.
After matric, Mapule found herself sitting at home with no opportunity to further her education. She spent four years doing odd jobs, whilst applying for various courses. “Funding was always an issue, even when I had to go for selection tests, I struggled,” she says.
Being idle was not an option for Mapule. Her dream was to live a life that would inspire others. “I knew I wanted to do something with my life and I didn’t want to be that girl from Alex,” she recalls. Driven by her desire to keep busy she decided to start running. “The roads are not user friendly so I decided to join the gym,” she says.
A year and a half after having joined the gym, Mapule’s luck began to change. While doing an aerobics class at the gym she was spotted by the Institute of Fitness Professionals, who offered her a scholarship to study exercise science. “The scholarship was truly a blessing, it enabled me to discover my love and passion for fitness,” she says.
Her journey to becoming a fitness professional was not all smooth sailing. The first time she applied to become a personal trainer she didn’t get the job. “It was hard for me to talk about it with anyone. Exercise was the only way I could deal with the whole situation,” says Mapule. “It really helped me to push past the negativity and look at the positive side of things.”
Soon after, she was offered a job as a personal trainer at Virgin Active. She then went on to become Women’s Health Next Fitness Star, as well as a brand ambassador for companies such as adidas and shield. “My journey has been a lot of hard work, patience and consistency,” she explains.
Through fitness, Mapule discovered strength she never knew she possessed. It also changed her outlook on life. “I have grown not just physically, but mentally and spiritually too.”
Known as @queenfitnass on Instagram, Mapule continues to be an inspiration for many. But even the queen struggles to find motivation sometimes. “When I don’t feel motivated I count my blessings just to remind myself what a blessing it is to be able to workout. I can make a positive impact on someone if I just do that workout and I’m also going to feel great once I’m done.
Fitness has become more than just a career for Mapule, it’s become a lifestyle. “I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I thank God everyday because I love what I do, and it brings me so much joy.