Slice Of Life: ‘We all have the ability to turn a self portrait into a masterpiece’

I believe in progress. I can see when someone is ready for it even when they don’t see it in themselves.

On her first day with me, one of my favourite clients came into the assessment room, she was visibly nervous but she tried to hide her anxiety with an awkward smile. We sat across each other with a table as the only barrier.

Besides our voices, the only other noise breaking the silence was the sound of my pencil on the paper I was writing on. She twiddled her fingers as I asked her questions: “What is your goal weight?” “Why do you want to get fit?” “Do you have any physical injuries?”

She answered all these questions but hesitated on the last one. A few years before she had had knee replacement surgery and she thought she would never run again. And now, ten months before her wedding day, she wants to shed about 18 kg.

We started with fifteen minutes of walking the treadmill and she was nervous about her knee. She took every step with caution. I made conversation to distract her, I asked about her wedding plans and how arrangements were going. The more we talked, the more she would relax.

With every session, her fears faded and she started to own her body. She was running on the treadmill and pushing herself further. She came with her fiancé to our last weigh-in. She kept her eyes fixed on him as she got on top of that scale. She took a deep breath before she looked down. She started crying because she met her goal weight.

My job exposes me to people who want to transform their lives, it is incredible to witness people morph into a completely different person – physically, emotionally, psychologically.

I am a personal trainer, I thank God he blessed me with this gift. Every morning I pray that God gives me the wisdom to help my clients. We all have the ability to turn a self portrait into a masterpiece.

Tumelo Setsetse (23), as told to Pontsho Pilane

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Pontsho Pilane
Pontsho Pilane is an award-winning journalist interested in health, gender, race and how they intersect. She holds three degrees in media studies and journalism from Wits University
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