“4 Lessons I Learnt From Training With One Of SA’s Top Trainers — Mapule Ndhlovu”
Mapule Ndhlovu is fit. She’s one of SA’s top trainers. She can lift. She runs at the least five kilometres daily. She does cycle tours on a whim. She doesn’t have off days.
Correction: Mapule Ndhlovu is crazy fit. Check out her Instagram page. Her workouts look hard, but her gusto keeps you watching each compound movement. She often finishes with a peppy dance.
So about four weeks ago, when my deputy editor Wanita Nicol said: “It would be a cool story for you to train with Mapule,” I literally laughed her off. Then when I saw my deadline for the story… well… let’s just say I know my true nemesis now. It’s you, Wanita Nicol.
It was time to get real. I’ve recently started training again and my fitness levels are acceptable. Not Mapule-ready, but I took on the challenge like a WH trooper nonetheless. And so I faced the July 2018 cover star with my legs shoulder-width apart, chest out, and with hopes that I could take what she was about to dish out.
I walked away with more than a good workout. I scored some solid lessons and tips that everyone should look out for during their next session.
Lesson 1: Find Someone Who Wants To Make It Work For You
Training day: Like a sheep to the slaughterhouse, I begrudgingly made my way to Virgin Active Alice Lane. But the moment we started, Mapule put me at ease. She asked me about my strengths and weaknesses, my injuries and what I enjoy doing. She explained how she trains her clients to their capabilities and how working out should be fun.
Foot note: I would not be doing one of her intense Insta workouts. “People get intimidated because they see how I train. I meet people who say they’re not ready to train with me yet. But I’m a personal trainer first. I don’t train them like I train.”
Mapule was out to make this a workout that A) I could do, B) that I would semi-enjoy, and C) that would worsen my current injuries. Sounded like a lullaby sung by a butcher. I was still not fully convinced. But we jumped in…
Lesson 2: Find Someone Who Pays Attention
We started off with seemingly benign walking lunges – a deep squat followed by a jump squat after every two lunges. I say “seemingly benign” because I’ve done lunges and squats before. Not like this though. Mapule is a stickler for form. She doesn’t even like counting reps, preferring to give you a distance to reach. Mine was a long highway-like stretch. She wants to pay attention to how you’re doing each and every rep, and to see which muscle you’re working. Quick lunge tut: Straight back, tummy engaged, deep long lunge, and drop that back knee. The recipe for a two-day stiffness pay-off.
Lesson 3: Find Someone Who Knows Their Stuff
When hobbling for a water break after my highway to hell, Mapule noticed my sneaks had an arch. She let me know that, while they’re great for running, at gym it’s best to use flat sneakers – this allows for motion control and stability. First tip acknowledged.
My next workout required me to run on said highway. After completing my weighted sprints, I would have to do two push-ups (10 times). I have a rotator cuff injury, so that worried me. Mapule changed the push-up to a deadlift overhead press. Even with my at-times immobilising injury, I was working with a trainer who was keeping me moving while rehabilitating my shoulder.
Lesson: Find a trainer who actually listens and won’t force you to push through pain. Good trainers never judge you – they’re there to help you.
Lesson 4: Find Someone Who Is Going To Push You
Saying that, Mapule still pushed me with a smile on her reassuring face. She kept the whole workout interesting and challenging. Was it tough? An emphatic yes. I was shocked by the size of my sweat patches. Would I do it again? A sheepish yes. Because I worked hard in that hour. My heart rate didn’t shoot the lights out, but my back, legs and abs felt every 60 minutes. And I felt like a warrior.
How was it? Training with a top trainer? How does it feel training with someone who really knows their stuff. Cue dancing…