How This Model Built Muscle, Confidence & Lost 18KG

Ongama Mafenuka made the decision to get stronger and further his modelling career.


Thaaqib Daniels, Photography by Glen Montgomery |

When 22-year-old model Ongama Mafenuka noticed his bookings slowing down, he decided that it was time to start working on his six pack in order to make his body work for him.

Ongama Mafenuka

Ongama (Before)
  • Age: 22
  • Occupation: Model
  • Location: Cape Town
  • Weight Before: 90kg
  • Weight after: 72kg
  • Time To Goal: 2 years

“When I started modelling I was getting booked quite often, but over time, things slowed down and I felt like I had reached a plateau,” says Ongama. Looking for more consistent work, he started taking a closer look at the models who were landing the most bookings. “I realised the only difference between them and me was that they were in great shape and had six packs. So there and then I committed myself to work on my body.”

The lesson: Find your goals, and write ‘em down. According to
a recent study, that’ll make you 33% more likely to achieve them.

The Change

“Although I was overweight growing up, I’ve always an athletic and sporty individual. Having a six pack has been a goal for a long time, but now I was ready to pursue it,” says Ongama. Knowing he needed the kind of physique where he could easily bulk or cut depending on what the job required, Ongama looked to the world of bodybuilding for inspiration. “I researched and studied their fitness plans and expanded my knowledge about nutrition.”

The lesson: Losing between 0.5% and 1% of your body weight per week should help you retain muscle size as you shed fat.

The Strategy

“Not too long after beginning my transformation journey, I went vegan,” says Ongama. “I also focused my training towards gymnastics and bodyweight exercises with a bit of weight training here and there (especially on leg day).”

The lesson: A study in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal found that bodyweight training is an efficient way to torch fat and boost your VO2 max. Plus, you won’t have to wait for gyms to reopen in order to get your shred on. You can smash your goals from the comfort of your own home.

The Result

“After two years of trial and a whole of error, I finally achieved my goal to have a six pack!”

For Ongama, the satisfaction that he felt was a major reward, but so was the praise he received from those around him. “I have succeeded in my personal milestone and it spills over to other areas of my life and greatly benefits me in my career,” he says. “Now it’s just onwards and upwards towards reaching more goals personally and professionally.”

The lesson: Studies have shown that when you’re motivated by
a sense of self-fufilment (instead of a financial incentive), you are far more likely to reach those goals.

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