7/20/2020 5 Comments
Dipuo Mankheli’s passion for fitness has taken her all over the world. The South Africa native has been a fitness instructor for the past two decades, leading and designing exercise and nutrition programs aboard the Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines. She’s most recently been the fitness director for the Canyon Ranch Spa for Cunard, serving on both the Queen Elizabeth and Cunard’s flagship, the Queen Mary 2. We at Stone Hill are proud to introduce her as our new wellness coordinator, who will be sharing health tips and tools here on our blog.
As Dipuo, like many of us, remains quarantined, Stone Hill caught up with her about how she is staying healthy during this time.
Stone Hill: Tell us about where you’re from and how that has influenced who you are.
Dipuo: I’m from Katlehong, which is one of the townships around Johannesburg in South Africa — a developing country which is better known for being a black-only residential area during the apartheid regime. English is my second language. I started speaking South Sotho and learned English in first grade, as it was and still is the main language used in all schools in South Africa, even though we have our home language. As I’ve traveled the world, I’m very proud to have represented my country.
Stone Hill: What motivates you to stay fit and healthy during this time?
Dipuo: There’s a difference between having a passion and having a job that will fade away at some point.
I’m motivated to take care of my two daughters, despite the lack of socioeconomic resources in my family and community. Both of my girls have names that are very meaningful to me. My 6 year old is named Thlaho, which means “nature” and my 3 year old is Lesedilaka, which means “my sunshine.” When you think about environmental issues and toxins affecting air quality, the two names go hand-in-hand. I’m creating a healthy lifestyle to keep my kids healthy from environmental toxins. I’m trying to protect my little girls and protect the world at the same time.
Stone Hill: What got you interested in fitness?
Dipuo: I grew up in a family of eight and we didn’t have much money. My parents wanted me to get a marketing degree.
While I was a student at Tshwane University of Technology, I started running — just recreationally, but I fell in love with aerobics — I love the music and I love to dance. In 1998, my roommate asked me to be part of an aerobics competition. I competed in the South African Student Sports Union at the aerobics national level representing my institution, which was then called Technikon Northern Gauteng. Surprisingly, I won the competition in 1998. It was unbelievable! Everybody knew I was the new kid on the block. I held the title each year until I graduated in 2003.
It turns out I was more into sports than anything else but I didn’t tell my parents I was doing the competitions. I even used to hide my trophies so my parents wouldn’t see them. They wanted me to get a degree in marketing and were concerned about my future, but I just fell in love with sports. One day I said, ‘Mom, I’m going to get my degree in marketing, but after that you have to believe in me to do what I love most.’ In 1999, I was awarded a Group Training Diploma with Reebok Instructors Alliance.
Now, I’m combining both sports and marketing together to market myself and my business.
Stone Hill: What has the Coronavirus been like in Johannesburg?
Dipuo: The spread of the virus has been very bad. Johannesburg, or Gauteng in general as a province has been rated number 3 in the whole country with 123,408 cases. There have been at least 4,804 deaths nationwide. The positive side is that many people are recovering.
Stone Hill: What have you been doing to maintain your health during this time?
Dipuo: I’m quarantined with my parents and daughters. During this lockdown I’ve been keeping my kids busy with their online school activities. I’ve also enrolled in an online personal training course to continue my knowledge of sports science.
I’ve been maintaining proper nutrition and hydration and keeping my family eating a well-balanced diet. With proper nutrition you lower the risk of chronic illness and infection.
Besides that, I’ve been keeping the household clean on a daily basis. I only go out when need be. I’m the one who goes to get groceries and before I even get inside the house, I sanitize everything.
Mental health is also important during this time. I’ve been connecting to the outside world daily via social media to keep positive vibes.
My parents have been involved in a regular exercise program. I’ve also made fun exercise routines for my little ones. My whole family has been involved in meditation and breathing techniques, including stretching every morning to help release tension and stresses incurred overnight.
Stone Hill: What are a few small things others can do to maintain their health each day?
Dipuo: Each day counts! Now more than ever it’s important to eat properly and keep yourself hydrated to boost your immune system. If your inner system is deteriorating, then the chances of you getting this deadly disease are higher.
What I’ve learned about this virus is that if your pH system is not correctly balanced, the virus is going to take you by storm. Do not allow your body to be too acidic or alkaline and remember to exercise. You don’t need to exercise for the sake of losing weight at this time. Now it’s more about relieving your stress level and keeping your body healthy.
Here are some more tips: