· Interviews

Tizi Talks With Vumani Mkhize

by Loise Machira

If you want to succeed at anything, you have to make what is familiar unfamiliar, and what is unfamiliar, familiar.- Marisa Peer

Dear Reader,

Are you looking forward to closing this month and ushering in September with more determination and drive? We definitely are! Welcome back to episode thirty four of Tizi Talks with Vumani Mkhize. Born and raised in Durban, Vumani is a multi award winning journalist who has covered some of the biggest stories in South Africa. He pocketed the 2015 National Press Club Award for Multimedia Journalism, as well as the 2015 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award for Radio.

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He currently works as a Business Reporter for BBC Africa where his role entails telling the African growth story in a manner that highlights the exponential development of our continent’s people and economies- basically, Wakanda Forever. In his career, Vumani has also interviewed icons such as Wyclef Jean, Lupita Nyong'o and in case you missed our Black Panther feature, check it out here.

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Despite his commendable accomplishments at a young age, he remains humble and determined to reach greater heights all whilst staying in top shape. As you will see, he still finds time to take care of his health on a daily basis except for the weekends where he enjoys to relax while reading a good book. After going on a run with him and my sister at Nairobi Arboretum, I got to know a little more about him and immediately convinced him to share his fitness journey with us. Here is what he had to say...

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TIZI: How old are you?

VM: I’m 33 years-old.

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TIZI: How long have you been working out?

VM: I've been running since around 2012 but I only started going hard at the gym three years ago.

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TIZI: What made you start?

VM: Back in 2012 I had gained a bit of weight, I couldn’t fit into my jeans anymore and quite frankly I didn’t like how I looked. I wasn’t a member of a gym at that time so I just decided to hit the road and run. However my running was very sporadic I did manage to lose a bit of weight but I didn’t exactly have the superhero physique that I fantasised about.

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...In 2015 I turned 30, a lot of personal issues were affecting me at the time, and I was really unhappy about the direction my life was taking. Essentially I was at a crossroads on a spiritual, mental and physical level and I had to make fundamental changes to how I lived my life. The first change came when I quit drinking, the second came when I signed up for a gym membership and decided to take looking after my body seriously.

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TIZI: Do you feel like it has made a difference in your life? If yes, how so?

VM: Working out has definitely made a huge impact in my life, it’s made me a happier, more balanced and more energetic person. I used live a party lifestyle, full of drinking and late nights out on the town, but deep down I wasn’t happy. Working out changed all of that; if I’m feeling stressed, I hit the gym, if I’m feeling anxious I hit the gym, If I’m feeling happy I hit the gym. For me, physical exertion and taking my body to the limit are things I find very therapeutic. The road, gym or hiking trail are my happy places, they calm me and give me a better understanding of myself and the world around me.

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TIZI: Can you please take me through your daily fitness routine on a weekday? And the weekend?

VM: I’m not much of a morning person so I generally hit the gym in the evenings after work. My weekdays are reserved for strength training; that’s when I do the heavy lifting. Monday I do chest and maybe a bit of arms, Tuesdays are for my back and abs, Wednesday is leg day (this is always a very sore day). Thursday I do shoulders and arms and then on Friday I’m back to chest and I do some heavy abdominal work as well.

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On Saturday morning I skip gym and hit the road. I hate running on a treadmill and I find road running much more enjoyable and liberating. Johannesburg is a busy city but on weekends it’s a runner’s paradise because the roads are empty and the leafy northern suburbs provide for some fantastic running routes. I usually do 10 kms and this fills up my cardio quota for the week quite nicely. Sunday is my rest day, that’s when I can put my feet up, chill at home with a good book and relax.

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TIZI: Do you find it difficult to include your workout in your daily routine?

VM: Initially it was difficult because as a journalist, there are so many demands on your time but the key thing is to prioritise your workouts, and plan ahead. If I know I’m going to have a long day, I go to the gym in the morning even though I hate waking up early. I also travel throughout Africa a lot, and the first thing I ask the travel agent when they book my accommodation is “Does the place have a gym?” 9 times out of 10 there’s a gym, if not I run on the road, and do body weight exercises in my hotel room.

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TIZI: Do you have a cheat meal?

VM: I have weakness for Indian food, particularly curry. I grew up on the coastal city of Durban in South Africa, which has a large Indian population and that’s where my love affair for Indian food started. I eat it once a week, on Sunday’s, there’s an Aunty who cooks sumptuous dishes in Maboneng’s Arts on Main market. She even knows me by name now, and as soon as I arrive she starts preparing my order, lamb curry and roti.

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TIZI: What keeps you motivated?

VM: For me motivation is easy, I love, absolutely love working out. Yes there are days when I don’t feel like getting out of bed to go and lift some pretty heavy weights, but I always remember this adage “Your mind gives up way before your body does”. So I get out of bed, and end up crushing that workout, because sometimes the best workouts happen on days when you least felt like training.

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TIZI: What would you say to someone who wants to start their fitness journey?

VM: My advice is simple, start with your fitness goals, ask yourself what do I want to achieve? Once you have an idea of what you want to do, it becomes easier to go about executing your plans. Another thing that is crucial is diet, you can never out exercise a bad diet. The best results I’ve gotten during my fitness journey have not come after bench pressing 120 kg, or squatting 160kg; they came after I started eating healthy. My abs started popping, my quads became more defined as my body fat percentage started to come down, and all of this was a result of a clean diet. If I can do it so can you, consistency, hard work and application is key.

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Yours in Wellness,


Photography Credits: Christian Parkinson, Strikingly, Pexels

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