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It’s April!!

And the gym membership cards and various other fitness regalia have been abandoned in closets, garages and where-ever else your hide your stuff! *I see you*

Statistics show that by the time we get to June, over half of the people who made resolutions to get fit in January, will have thrown in the towel! And with many of us feeling the effects of the recession, gym memberships are not always practical for the budget.

So we got you recessionista’s…

I have always been passionate about Fitness and am on my way to receiving a Personal Trainer qualification in Australia. It is hard for everyday women to get motivation to work out when they are bombarded by images of celebrities with exercise routines that they can’t keep up with/afford, so I found an everyday woman who wanted to change her fitness goals for the better by:

  • designing an inexpensive program with activities she enjoys for a year;
  • changing her program every 4 weeks and
  • tracking measurable progress every month.

I was delighted when the gorgeous Lani Masuku agreed to have us here at FaraiToday track and keep up with her health & fitness goals until April 2013.

Lani is a Community Manager for an international Non-Governmental Organization; Founder of a group which empowers women, Unlocking Women’s Power and a popular Hair Consultant/Blogger (Aphro Phro).

So in a nutshell, girlfriend stays busy that going to the gym may not be part of her agenda.

So, first things first, I asked Lani some questions to get a holistic picture of her lifestyle, health goals and fitness status….

 What made you determined to get fitter this year?

I’ve always been scared of going to the gym because of my fast metabolism. With my metabolism slowing down, I’m grateful that the weight is going in the right places, but I need to keep it all in check. They say that weight comes on slowly … and one day you realize that you’re 3 times the size you thought you were. I’d like to make sure that I am fit, healthy and that my routine strengthens my heart, tones my body, yet ensures that I’m not looking emaciated.

What are your specific fitness goals for April 2012 – April 2013?

I weigh between 56kg and 58kg and am 5ft 3. Ideally I would like to be 60kg. My BMI is 22, so I’m in the healthy range.

Being a naturally small person with a fast metabolism, I’ve never had a problem with weight gain. I love the hour glass figure, have a healthy view of my body shape and wouldn’t want to force my body to become something that it’s not, but seeing that I’m currently sitting at 33-27-39 and my tummy has gained a little friend over the years, I would like to see my ideal frame sitting at 33-24-39. I need to maintain the hour glass measurements and keep the lumps and bumps where they need to be.

I want a toned tummy, arms and shoulders. With all this toning though, I would like to keep my soft curves, I would hate to develop a ‘manly’ shape with any type of exercise or find that I’m losing a lot of weight. Having always being a small person, I am sensitive about being too small.

What was your exercise routine in the last year? If you weren’t exercising for part of the time, why not?

In the last 3 months, I had been going to the gym at least 3 times a week. I enjoy going to the one hour classes after work, as it’s just an easy in and out. I have a very busy lifestyle, so the easier, yet more intense the work out is, the better. I would go to body combat, body pump and then a stretch class in the same week.

Time took over – with several work functions after hours – so I stopped going to the gym. The well-tuned routine stopped, and I never reignited it. So, I did what a finance savvy person would do, I cancelled my gym membership. So now I’m looking for real alternatives that I will enjoy, won’t take up a whole chunk of my time, are effective and fun.


Everyone tends to ‘listen’ to their body. What have you been feeling within yourself during the last year? 

My body has been feeling heavy. My cute lil’ tummy bump now has a little sister attached to it and I know that my heart rate is faster than it should be. I lead a sedentary life, so my body is telling me that I need to be more active.

What is your nutrition like – what would you eat in a typical day, including snacks/drinks?

In my family, we never used to snack, so that’s never been a problem for me. I find however, that I eat what I want and that has never affected my weight severely. A few months ago, I fasted and took meat right out of my diet. I found myself trialing new recipes with a lot of veggies (but not too much fruit though). There was such a difference in how I felt. My mind was sharper, I felt better and healthier. My body thanked me. So I know I need more veggies and fruit in my life.

Approximately how many mls/litres of water do you drink per day?

Not nearly enough. In other words, I don’t even look at the amount. But I don’t have soft drinks either. I’d probably have a litre of water a day – if I was really thinking about it. But when I get busy, I can forget that I haven’t had any form of liquid.

How many hours a week do you have free to exercise and which days/times would you prefer to exercise? A session only needs to last a minimum of 30 mins so I will work around your schedule.

I’m still discovering this. When I was going to the gym, I dedicated my evenings for it. Just an hour over 3 days during the week days should be fine. My weekends are jam packed.

After my one-on-one health & fitness session with Lani, I was able to formulate a work-out regiment and holistic health & lifestyle program. Take a look….


I will be able to measure Lani’s progress by asking her how she is feeling within and taking measurements of her tummy area every month, to assess if the excess fat only on the tummy is shedding. I will also ask her to look at her body in a mirror with lots of light as she starts her program and by April 2013, she should be able to see a visible difference as she tightens up.


I have a three point approach to any program that I give. Firstly, in order for anyone to improve their fitness levels, it all starts with the mind. As a man thinketh, so is he. It is essential that Lani believes that she can stick to her workout program and achieve her goals. Whilst she is exercising, I have asked her to enjoy herself by listening to her favorite music, visualise how great she is going to look with a tight, toned tummy and express gratitude to her Creator for making her fantastic body, that works just as she desires.


Lani’s goals are specific to ‘toning up’, not losing weight. Toning up means building muscle in the required area.  I have asked Lani what she enjoys doing as my philosophy is to give programs that people will enjoy. There is no point dreading your workout otherwise you will not stick to it. If she finds herself not enjoying it, I will change it to suit. To me, the client comes first.

Because Lani does not have any weights equipment at home, I have asked her to use two full 500ml water bottles to provide some resistance to her exercise. Please note that using weight will NOT make her look manly. It’s a big misconception that if you use weights as a woman, you will end up looking like a man. Resistance training is excellent for women as it tones, serves as a form of cardio training and greatly reduces the risk of osteoporosis, amongst other things.


Exercise without the right nutrition will defeat achievement of anyone’s fitness goals. So that Lani has more energy, sharpens her mind further and gets to a higher level of inner wellness, she must make the following adjustments.

  • Drink 1.5 – 2 litres of water/day. She can carry a water bottle around with her from early morning.
  • Increase her fruit intake, so have some light fruit before working out for energy. I have given her a recipe for a “Muriwo”/Green Smoothie that she must have after each exercise session and once on weekends. I also encourage her to snack on fruits during the day. Click here to see the smoothie recipe. This will act as a detoxifier, amongst other things.
  • Lani spends too many hours in between main meals without any food or much liquid. I encourage her to snack on fruit every 2-3 hours because long periods without food also lead to belly fat, as your body hoards the fat. For an explanation, click here.
  • Increase her vegetable intake by adding e.g. spinach, kale leaves to her smoothies and aim to have a salad with added fruits such as apple at least three times a week.
  • Eat more wholegrains and less refined foods so e.g. brown rice, brown breads, sweet potatoes.
  • Try and eat more organic foods as opposed to processed, packaged foods. No canned fruit or at least a very limited amount if she must. Fresh is always best as a lot of the canned/packaged fruits have added sugar, preservatives and other chemicals which are not good for us or her lil’ friend attached to the tum.



Exercises Week 1 – 4

Lani will start off with simple exercises as I want her to have excellent technique first before advancing her during the year. I caught up with Lani to teach her the correct technique for each exercise. Simple exercises done correctly give the best results! I will have her doing the toning exercises first, so that the huge amount of energy she has as she starts her routine, will be focused on her main goal.

She will be working out 3 days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 45 mins – 60 mins max before or after work. I will check on her weekly and be on call to answer any of her questions.


  • Some great music she loves!!
  • Comfortable workout clothes, trainers, towel, drinking water.
  • Two 500ml water bottles (with water!).




  • Besides increasing her heart rate as she starts, they will tighten her butt and also work on her quadriceps (thigh muscles), her hamstrings (back of the thighs); calf muscles and abdominals. She will not be using any weights with this exercise.
  • Use a steady, low chair, bench or use a step if you have stairs.
  • Place hands on hips. Put the right foot on the step, ensuring it’s stable and that you are making a 90 degree angle with your ankle, knee and hip. Keep the other foot firmly planted on the floor.
  • Ensure you keep your abdominal muscles drawn in and back straight. Breathe out as you step up with the left foot and lightly tap it on the step. Breathe out as you step down with the left foot and continue to do this for 8 reps. Rest for 60 seconds – do 3 sets.
  • Switch to the other leg and complete another 3 sets.



Shoulder press 

  • Put one 500 ml water bottle in each hand. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, with back straight.
  • Breathe out as you raise the bottles so that they are level with ears. Ensure the forearms are vertical, palms facing forward.
  • Move the bottles in an arc slowly above your head until they touch. Ensure forearms remain under the wrists and that shoulders, wrists, elbows are in alignment.
  • Breathe in as you lower to the ears and repeat for 8 repetitions. Rest for 60 seconds – do 3 sets


Lateral raise
  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart and back straight.
  • Bottles should be in front of you and slightly in front of the body. Elbows should be slightly bent, with palms facing each other.
  • Breathe out as you move the bottles in a wide arc, with palms facing the floor until you reach shoulder height.
  • Breathe in as you lower and start again. Do this for 8 reps, rest for 60 seconds. Do 3 sets.


Bicep curl

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart, with back straight and elbows tight against the body.
  • Arms must be straight by sides, hands outside thighs, with palms facing forward.
  • Keep your body stable and breathe out as you curl the bottles up in an arc. Palms face up and keep the arms close to the body.Inhale as you lower down.
  • Do 10 reps, rest for 60 seconds – do 3 sets.



Tricep Dip


  • Sit on the edge of a flat chair,bench or use a wide window sill if you can. Place your hands, fingers facing forward, next to your thighs. Place your feet on the floor in front of you, knees bent.
  • Keep your arms straight, keep your abdominals drawn in and move forward slightly so your butt is hovering in front of the edge of the bench. Inhale, bend your arms, and lower your butt.
  • Stop when your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Exhale and push yourself back up, straightening your arms.
  • Repeat  for 10 reps. Rest for 60 secs – do 3 sets.



Supine Hip extension

  • This will also work Lani’s butt.
  • Lie on your back, with feet hip width apart, arms by your side and facing up.
  • Draw your abdominals in. Squeeze your butt and raise the hips off the floor, whilst breathing out until your body forms a straight line from hips to knees.
  • Pause for a few secs then inhale and lower. That is one rep. Repeat for 10 reps and do 3 sets.


Virtual ball throws

  • This is an exercise I modified myself so unfortunately there is no image available.
  • Lie with your back on the floor. Take one water bottle, cup it with both hands, so your palms are facing your body and hold it above your head behind you on the floor, with your arms stretched out.
  • Lift your legs so they are above your hips and point your toes.
  • Keeping your body stable, whilst breathing out –  bring your arms up  as though you are throwing the bottle between your legs. At the same time, start opening your legs to a wide position, keeping toes pointed as you bring the bottle between your legs. Your head should now be slightly raised.
  • Pause – so you feel the tightening in your abs and slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 20 times.


Dumbbell side bend

  • This will work the obliques which are part of the abdominal muscles found along the sides of your body.
  • Grasp a water bottle in each hand, with arms straight to side.
  • As you inhale, bend waist to one side of the bottle until a slight stretch is felt.  As you exhale, bring your body up and lower to the opposite side. That is 1 rep. Continue for 10 reps, rest for 60 secs – do 3 sets.



  • Brisk walk for 15 mins. If she feels up to it she can jog (or build up to a jog after 2 weeks).
  • I suggested that Lani can also use the time she is walking to pray or reflect and it will not seem very tasking.


Cool down/Stretches
This is important so that your body can reap the rewards of your exercise. During my teaching session with Lani, I showed her how to do appropriate stretches for the muscles worked. You can see some stretches here.

Catch up with Lani’s progress in 4 weeks….exclusively on Faraitoday!!

Teurai is the Founder of the Elizabeth Chanakira Cancer Trust, which as one of its missions raises awareness of Health & Fitness as a way to reduce the risk of diseases.


*Pic sources: Restorepersonaltraining, Bodyandsoul, Women’s Health South Africa, Howtolosebellyfat.

Writer, Model, Founder of Elizabeth Chanakira Cancer Trust

Teurai Chanakira – who has written posts on Farai Today.

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  • Shelter

    Looking forward to seeing all the changes over the next year. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.