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Gym-free journey to fitness

Written by Sandile Mbili

Obesity in South Africa is increasing by 70% in women and 40% in men – and we need to do something about it. This is according to the Department of Health, which reported the statistics on World Obesity Day this year.


Mbali says not having access to a gym will not stop her from working out.

Someone who decided to do something about it is 31-year-old Mbali Mthethwa, known as Palesa Dingiswayo on her social media platforms. She started exercising in 2015 when she realised she was overweight. Mthethwa, from Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal, said she was motivated to get active when she saw fashionista Buhle Mkhize post videos and pictures on Instagram showing off her results after she started exercising.

Mthethwa began exercising on 18 November 2015, and hasn’t looked back – and living in a rural area did not discourage her. According to United Kingdom’s Consortium for Chartered Physiotherapists, exercise is perhaps the greatest “drug” any of us could take, it’s a physiological experience for our bodies can experience – and it doesn’t matter if we live in a city or a remote rural area.

Mthethwa  said that people discouraged her, telling her she wouldn’t last because she didn’t have a personal trainer, but the negative comments just made her determined to continue on her journey to fitness.

The negative comments just made her determined to continue on her journey to fitness.


“Even though I didn’t go to a gym I became very committed and focused on the goal that I had of having a sexy body, which is flexible and healthy,” said Mthethwa, adding that she has lost weight and no longer has back pains she had a year ago.

An edited version of this story appeared on

About the author

Sandile Mbili

Sandile Mbili is an award-winning CJ based in KwaZulu Natal and has been freelancing since 2010. As a creative writer has contributed to Radio Khwezi drama department for 6 years and also wrote articles for Inkazimulo Newspaper and Daily Sun. Sandile has a Diploma in Comprehensive Writing from College SA and has completed an online course with Frety Media for Press Code. To date, he has produced 10 radio dramas and won two awards for Best Radio Drama on MTN Radio Awards 2015 and Best Educational Magazine Show at MDDA-Sanlam Media Awards 2015.