Ontha is all about debunking fitness myths and sharing tips for healthier living
Words: Sinalo Mkaza | Photography: Anthony Bila | Creative Direction: Unlabelled Magazine
A balanced lifestyle is key to being healthy in these times, where convenience reigns and being busy relegates exercise as an afterthought for those of us who bother.
This was the main takeaway after The Way of Us spent some 'up' time with Onthatile Morake. Onthatile, a 20-something project manager, is trailblazing the advertising industry at creative agency, Andpeople, and finds that putting time aside for fitness makes everything else in her life fall into place.
For most of us, keeping fit seems to require effort, especially when you're still putting in the work trying to establish your career. Ontha's journey began after she left university where, yearning for a healthier lifestyle, she decided to sculpt a positive body image that debunked all the childhood insecurities heightened by peer pressure.
"The moment I realised I wanted to transform my body was the moment I realised this was about more than just losing weight – it was also about changing my mind and my motivation. Changing my life physically and mentally," she says.
Ontha leads a busy life and while her job is demanding of her time, she says that planning ahead keeps her fitness routine intact.
"I make time to exercise, even if it’s in the living room for 10 minutes before or after work. I believe that you can exercise anywhere, anytime."
Fitness is like honing any other skill. Nobody is born fit and while most of us start out fairly strong, playing on the school playground or participating in school sports, we tend to slack off once we discover varsity life or begin our first jobs.
Fitness was never a custom in Ontha's household, but being active was always encouraged. And even though her beauty was always affirmed by her family, there were moments when Ontha struggled with feelings of self-consciousness or not fitting in.
“All those struggles pushed me towards the desire of wanting to live and lead a healthier lifestyle... not because I hate my body but because I love it.”
Beyond the health benefits, Ontha believes that keeping fit can help with personal productivity, relaxation and admits that the subsequent endorphins leave you feeling “pretty damn good”.
Then there's the fashion side of things, where Ontha is known for her remarkable sports style, whether working out or not. She's been inspired by international DJ, fitness enthusiast, and the founder of the health and beauty website HBFit, Hannah Bronfman. Ontha remains excited at how the local fitness industry has grown but acknowledges that there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. "What needs to change is the way in which we are communicating to our audiences," she said.
There are also a lot of myths that need to be debunked in the health and fitness industry, and Ontha believes that the major ones are:
1) Skinny means fit.
“Don't let a thin figure fool you! Frame size is different for all.”
2) The more time you spend in the gym, the better.
“Listening to your body and fitting rest days into your schedule is important. I listen to my body and try not to push myself too hard or set unfair expectations.”
Ultimately fitness is more a mental game than a physical one, and Ontha claims that not getting stuck on one's physical appearance is most important and will always ensure that her self-worth isn’t determined by how she looks.
“I want to inspire women to be the best version of themselves. Taking care of yourself and being healthy is a part of that.”