Miriam Kabongo is a certified personal trainer, fitness instructor and sports fitness coach. I’ve been in the industry since I was 17 and in 2016, I relocated to the UAE from my home country, Zimbabwe to help me grow further in my career.
How did you get to be a fitness trainer?
The funny thing is in high school I couldn’t stand compulsory sports. I liked being active I just didn’t like being forced to be active. It was after I left school that I fell in love with working out and an opportunity presented itself for me to study Exercise Science with the Health and Fitness Professionals Association of South Africa at their Zimbabwe branch and I jumped at it.
What role does music play in your workout routines?
Music is an obsession. In 2016 I joined the first trainers to get certified as Strong by Zumba instructors (now strong nation) because it’s what was missing in the industry, music led training. Every move has a beat and every beat has a move.
What is your background in dancing and how did you get into it?
Dancing was my way of staying fit in my teens. At the time I did it for fun but looking back I can see how that was so good for me. I started out in the church dance group then I took it up professionally. I got the opportunity to work at the cricket 2020 games, we did productions at the national ballet, HIFA and we even travelled to Sun City for the battle of the giants.
How do you come up with the dance routines for workouts?
I’ve always been into Afro-fusion and I let the music move me. It comes naturally to me and it helps that African culture is being celebrated so much at the moment so there’s inspiration coming from all over the place.
How important has fitness been in your life?
Fitness is my therapy. It’s great for my mental health and well-being. It gives me a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make me happy. I’m all for variety so it can be hitting the hiking trails or riding a bicycle or even joining the spartan race. Consistency is key for me.
What have been the highlights of your career?
There are several achievements in dance and in fitness but what stands out for me now was finishing the ADNOC 10k last December. It sounds insignificant but I broke my foot the year before and had struggled to get back on course. Training for it and finishing that race was everything to me.
What is your process when working with a client and setting up their goals?
There is a lot to it. To put it simply, it’s very important to listen to what your client wants for themselves and help set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely goals.
What is your advice for someone starting their fitness trainer journey?
Get qualified! I’m so over seeing all these inexperienced, unqualified people on Instagram giving out fitness advice to the world because ‘fitness is in’ these days. It’s so important to take the time out to learn and build yourself up and be knowledgeable and have real facts for the people you want to help.
What is on your workout playlist?
I listen to a lot of the music I use in my classes during my workouts. I’m usually coming up with moves in my head or going over moves. Right now, I’m really into Sho Madjozi, Yemi Alade and all Soca music.
Who inspires you the most in life?
Other successful black women who, despite of the cards being stacked against them have fought and are still fighting their way to the top. My three sisters are a true example of such women.
What have you been doing to keep yourself busy during the lockdown?
I had to adjust quickly like everyone else I’m sure. I’m training my clients virtually during the day. I’ve also kept up with my own workouts and I started going jogging regularly, you have to stay active. I’ve taken the time to do a lot of reading, which I love to do. Also, a lot of studying. I’ve been taking online courses that I’d been meaning to get to and now I have the opportunity to so during this lockdown.
What’s the soundtrack to your life?
Don’t Worry be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
“In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry, you make it double”.
How would you like to be remembered?
I want to be remembered for kindness and generosity. My willingness to spread gratitude, compassion and understanding. Those that know me well though will just remember me as a clown because I’m always making people around me laugh.
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