Running got me to work on time. And then it saved my life. – Mapule Ndhlovu

Just a few years ago, I was at my most vulnerable. I didn’t have the funds to study further after matric, so I became demotivated and disillusioned at home. I would run because I wanted to cry, and I didn't want to cry in front of my mom or my grandma.

I spent my time helping my grandmother and mother run their daycare business from home, and I didnʼt want to show how I was feeling in front of them, so running became an excuse to get out of the house.

I've always felt like I needed to be the strong one at home, so I started running as my emotional release. My love for running started in a desperate place but it made me realise that I wanted something bigger for my life.

On the 10th of March 2012, it was my 22nd birthday. I’ll never forget that day. It sticks out because I got the best gift I could have asked for - a visit from the Fitness Institute with an offer to sponsor an Exercise Science course. It was the day that changed my life.

Although my love for running started in a desperate place, it made me realize that I wanted something bigger for my life.

While I was studying, I got a job at the Alice Lane Virgin Active in Sandton, which is how I got into a personal training career. I needed to get myself to work by 4am so I’d wake up and run from my house at 3am. Running in the township, at that time - I know the stories, I know what can happen. I didn’t want to be dependent on anyone though, so I ran from Alex to Sandton in the morning, and back again at the end of the workday. That’s 48,000 steps!

When you grow up in a space where you're not told that you can do and be whatever you want, it's not easy for you to believe in yourself. But now as Queen Fitnass, I can inspire my community of almost 40 000 people to take at least a few of those steps each day.

It doesn't matter where you're from - health and wellness is a universal opportunity. Everyone needs to be confident. Everyone needs to be healthy. Everyone needs to function properly.

If only I knew then what I know now - that Iʼm faster than my circumstances.