THE sounds of high-energy, rhythmic beats vibrate throughout the Inanda Ohlange Sports’ Ground, urging some 500 fitness enthusiasts to keep going. And setting the pace at this INK (Inanda/Ntuzuma/KwaMashu) Body Workout fitness event is organiser and Activator Mlekeleli Khuzwayo.
ACTIVATE! is a network of young leaders equipped to drive change for the public good across South Africa. The dance choreographer and now owner of Triple B Fitness Family Indoor Sports Centre, based in KwaMashu, is driven to improve the health of his fellow INK residents through fun fitness rallies.
Talking about his journey to this point, Khuzwayo recalled his introduction to dance. “I was taught to dance by Eric Shabalala who ran an after-school programme teaching township children dance,” explained the energetic choreographer. Shabalala was part of the Phenduka Dance Theatre Company which Khuzwayo joined from 2001 where he received formal dance training.
He quickly danced his way onto the competitive stage, winning KZN Dance Link’s “Breakthrough” dance award in 2005 and joining the choreography team for the renowned Jomba! Dance Festival that same year.
He continued to collaborate with a number of South African dance companies including the Cape Town Jazzart Dance Theatre, Durban Flatfoot Dance Company and Durban Flying Fish Dance Company where he choreographed a number of impressive pieces, awarding him the attention of an international dance organisation.
From 2007 to 2008, Khuzwayo joined the German-based dance group, Afrika-Afrika, which saw him performing alongside top international dancers throughout Germany as well as other parts of Europe. He took the role as lead dancer and also assisted in teaching choreography.
On returning to home soil, Khuzwayo continued to dance and choreograph, eventually opening his own company, Dreamfinders, in 2011. However, he felt the need to encourage fitness within the INK community, so in August 2014 he opened Triple B Fitness Family.
“There are lots of gyms around so I decided to mobilise people, no matter what gym they come from or even if they don’t have a gym, to participate in a fitness rally which encourages a healthy lifestyle.” So in November last year, Khuzwayo hosted the first INK Body Workout fitness event in KwaMashu where anyone and everyone could come on the day and participate in a free gym session. “We had 200 people attend and it was a huge success, so I decided to do three a year, one in each of the INK areas,” he explained.
The second INK Body Workout fitness event was held in Inanda on 2 May, attended by some 500 men, women and children, all driven to live healthier lives. Both events were attended by KwaZulu-Natal’s first lady, Thembeka Mchunu, the wife of KZN premier, Senzo Mchunu, and herself an ambassador for healthy living.
“It is so important that we get everyone living a healthy lifestyle with events such as these,” said Mchunu, getting ready to participate in the gym session. “By exercising and getting fit, we are reducing the number of people being hospitalised with high blood pressure and diabetes.”
Mchunu – who is about to launch the Anti-Obesity programme aimed at decreasing childhood obesity – said the INK Body Workout programme was heeding the government’s call to live a healthier lifestyle. The event received the support of eThekwini Municipality with ward councillor, Vusi Gebashe, leading the way and getting involved. Gebashe, who also had high praise for Khuzwayo’s initiative, said: “I think it’s an exciting programme. People are engaged in exercising and getting healthy which means we are taking people off the streets and focusing them on positive tasks.”
One of the participants of the day was 62-year-old Makhosi Qhobosheane, a KwaMashu resident and now member of Khuzwayo’s Triple B gym. She said she became hooked to the gyming lifestyle after participating in the first INK Body Workout.
“I had high blood pressure, arthritis, heart problems and am a chronic asthmatic. I didn’t listen to the doctors who told me to go to the gym because I thought it was for younger people. I was being admitted to hospital three times a year.”Qhobosheane said she finally made the decision last November to get involved in the fitness rally when she realised she was continuing to get sick. And the results have been astounding.
“I used to use my pump every day, now I only use it when I have an asthmatic attack. I feel a lot healthier. At first it was hard but now I really like it. I go to gym five times a week and run on Saturdays.”
She said the improvement was so impressive that fellow teachers at the school where she works as a teacher’s assistant, have joined the gym. “On the weekend when I go running I am motivated because people hoot at me and say ‘Go gogo!’”
Pumla Mkhwanazi, who attended last year’s event as well, said she really enjoyed getting fit. “My favourite part of the day is the thai bo. I try to gym every day when I get a chance.” Vusi Makhanya, Khuzwayo’s fellow dancer, was also getting his heart rate up. “It’s great seeing the young people coming out and getting fit and healthy.” And to ensure the event benefits a cross-section of the INK area, Khuzwayo organised a business exhibition at the event, providing a much-needed platform for small businesses to showcase their products and services.
Marcia Ngidi, of Kukie and Marcia’s Tailoring and Dressmaking, said she hoped the event would open her company up to new clientele who would not have heard of them before. Commenting on the day, Khuzwayo said it had been another huge success. “The next one will be held in Ntuzuma sometime before October and it will be even bigger!” he promised.