8 Important Lessons We Learnt From This Month’s Cover Guys

Let these cover guys put you on a better path.

Kirsten Curtis |

It seems like a lifetime ago when president Cyril Ramaphosa first announced that South Africa would go into lockdown. We swapped long commutes for quick walks to the kitchen counter and gym training for home workouts.

In a constantly changing world, we decided to reflect the currently reality of the world for our July issue. In a Men’s Health first, we put eight ripped guys on the cover, not just one. These eight guys all found ways to adapt to living during lockdown.

Related: What To Do About Feelings Of Isolation And Loneliness In Lockdown

Although things are slowly opening up, it might be a while before the world looks the same as what it did before COVID-19 hit our shores. Until then, we tapped into the collective knowledge of our eight cover guys to bring you the best advice to help get you through this uncertain period.

We also asked this month’s cover guys to share which charities they support. Many people are struggling. If you align with one of these charities and are able to donate, go ahead and support the causes of our cover guys.

1. Be Kind To Yourself


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A post shared by Mnqobi Kunene (@__umnqobi__) on

Mnqobi Kunene first graced our cover in December last year. Before the country was shutdown, the personal trainer offered bootcamps to people in his community. Now he’s offering personalised training sessions to clients. While the 29-year-old doesn’t lack the motivation to train, he finds that the best way to get through a tough situation is by being kind to yourself.

“I take time, a day or two, to digest the fact that the pandemic still drags on and that gives me time to think about myself and what I want. I would then be able to set new fitness goals that will account for my circumstances and priorities. The more meaningful my target is the more committed I will be to it.”

Mnqobi supports: The Solidarity Fund. The fund seeks to bring relief to those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its aim is to prevent the spread of the disease and care for those in need. Donate here.

Related: Try This 9-Move Workout From The MH 2018 Cover Guys For Cover-Guy Muscle

2. Follow A Plan That Works For You


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Online nutrition coach, Andrea Papas does not believe in a one-size fits all approach, whether that relates to diet or fitness. Having worked with numerous clients over the years, the 39-year-old has seen first hand that plans that suit the individual’s needs are the ones that work best. So follow what works for you.

“You really can follow any plan you want!  Your training should serve a purpose towards your goals and for what you want to achieve. Training shouldn’t be just about burning calories or trying to work the hardest, thinking that harder or more is better, no it isn’t. You want to train just enough, to elicit the right adaptions with allowing room for recovery to be able to see optimal results and to be able to continue training without any injuries. [If you’re with a personal trainer] they should do an assessment and look at someones fitness background  how long have they been training, type of training, biomechanics, injuries.”

Andrea supports: Save The Children SA. This charity helps bring young children survive, get an education and create a better life for themselves. Donate here.

3. Be Disciplined


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Has your motivation to train dwindled the longer this pandemic has continued? You’re not alone. Strength and Conditioning Coach, Joshua Capazorio knows from experience that we won’t always be motivated to train. “Some days you won’t want to train. That’s part of life,” he says. When that happens he suggests being disciplined anyway.

“The quickest way for me to enforce discipline is diet. I approached this by tightening up my eating. [In lockdown,] I tracked my calories more precisely and went into a slight caloric deficit as regardless of my training, being at home had put me into a more sedentary lifestyle. I therefore gave myself one day a week to refeed and indulge. Training wise I have been pushing my bodyweight training and getting on the road getting mileage on the legs while developing my aerobic system. I am planning on pushing the envelope on both a strength and aerobic level, so I am building a big training base around it now, this means I am doing x4 strength, x3 road work and x2 conditioning sessions a week.”

Joshua supports: Lifting Dreams Soweto. This weightlifting gym in Soweto is run by Khati Mabuya. “Our country has a wealth of athletes and we need to develop them at all levels, especially at a young age.” Contact the gym here.

Related: Elevate Your Fitness With These 7 Lessons We Learnt From This Year’s Cover Guy Finalists

4. Use Goals To Hold Yourself Accountable


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On top of being stuck at home with minimal equipment, the weather also turned cold a few months into lockdown. Binge-watching series has never looked more appealing. Cover guy, Dr Fez Mkhize recommends find ways to make getting out of bed seem more appealing.

“Winter is a difficult time to be active because of the cold. We inherently want to stay in bed longer and not go outside because of it. Knowing that this is the case we have to have set goals that we hold ourselves accountable to and finding ways to counteract the cold issue- this could be through dressing warmly when going to bed and ensuring that the heater is on to keep the bedroom warm so getting out of bed won’t seem like such a chore. Drinking water when you get up not only ensures adequate hydration but will make sure you will have to get up to urinate which forces you to get out anyway.”

And if you’re lacking the energy? “Coffee and tea are my silver bullets when it comes to energy and focus during this time.”

Fez supports: SOS Children’s Villages. This charity supports vulnerable children, as well as fragmented families. “When a child loses everything, SOS Children’s Villages is there to give them a home, a mother and a family.” Donate here.

5. HIIT Things Up


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Most of us don’t have access to a bunch of fancy equipment. But bodyweight training doesn’t mean your workouts will be less intense. Instead you should mix up your training methods, recommends personal trainer, Phelo Mfini. The 26-year-old believes that when it comes to training, our bodies are machines.

“To increase your workout’s intensity, its best to limit rest periods and increase performance time. Some training methods to try to out to burn fat quickly are high intensity interval training (HIIT), every minute on a minute (EMOM) and pyramids.”

His go-to exercises for burning fat are: Burpees. Burpees. Burpees. High knees. Explosive squats. Jumping Lunges. V-ups. And Burpees.

Phelo supports: Mayibuye Foundation. “I support this foundation as it feeds people in the homes of Bizana in the Eastern Cape and it has helped over 100 homes.” Donate here.

6. Find Ways To Challenge Yourself


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Bauke Hanekom’s challenge of burning 10 000 calories is what legends are made of. The gym owner had been recovering from a rough patch when he decided to push himself out of his comfort zone. He not only completed this feat, but managed to burn 15 000 calories on his next attempt.

While he admits that it’s not a challenge you can carry out every day, he says it helped him re-write the story he was telling himself. “I realised that nothing is impossible, as cliché as that might sound – completing these challenges made me realise again, that we can become our own worst enemy. Everything is possible, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Bauke supports: Men’s Foundation South Africa. “They showed great support during my 15k challenge and I would like to give something back.” Donate here.

Related: Our Cover Guys Tips On Mixing Up Your Training For Better Gains

7. Staying Active Is Good For Your Overall Health


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A few weeks into lockdown, we were inspired by Henru Liebenberg’s impressive calisthenic feats that he was displaying on Instagram. The insurance broker was used to working from home as he’d been doing it for a while before lockdown kicked in. But he found it difficult to not be able to do other activities he enjoyed.

“Being active was not only important for my physical health but also for my mental health. Staying fit kept me sane during the time of anxiety and confusion. It is also a great way to pass time while you are stuck at home.”

His focus during the lockdown was to live a healthier lifestyle and improve his calisthenic skills. “I wanted to kick start a healthy nutrition plan and have an exercise routine to improve my general health, especially in these uncertain times.”

Henru supports: Four Paws. This charity is a strong global and independent voice for animals under direct human influence. “I feel that animals should always be treated with love and respect.” Donate here.

8. Always Practice Gratitude


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While sports fields are slowly opening up around the world, Blitzbok captain, Siviwe ‘Shakes’ Soyizwapi and many other athlete’s were stuck at home like the rest of us. The sevens rugby player continued to train despite not knowing when he’d be allowed out on the field. He focused on emerging from lockdown stronger than his competitors. And when that wasn’t enough he practised gratitude.

“When you stay positive and you’re thankful for the small things like being able to exercise, being able to be active, it’s easy to be motivated to train. You need to understand that although you aren’t able to do everything you previously could, there are people who would kill to be where you are.”

Siviwe supports: BeTheDifference Foundation. “The foundation is meeting an urgent need to eliminate and ease the effects of poverty right now.” Donate here.

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