Juanita Khumalo is well-known for being a wellness coach, inspirational fitness figure and a dynamic influencer, however her journey to where she is today as the founder of TROVE Wellness has not been easy.
In 2017, Khumalo went through the darkest period in her life suffering depression, anxiety, insomnia and a toxic relationship.
At the time, she could not afford therapy so she turned to food for comfort and gained 15kg’s in the process.
Eager to lead a healthier life, Khumalo decided it was time to hit the gym and over time it became her coping mechanism and gave her a sense of renewed purpose.
However, a year later, she was forced to seek professional assistance as she suffered a burnout.
Today, the Brand South Africa Play Your Part ambassador is in a positive state of mind and is hoping to make a difference in the lives of many other women.
Chatting to gsport, Khumalo gives insight into leaving her corporate job to honour the call to found TROVE Wellness and aspirations to grow the brand globally.
Juanita, thank you for making time for gsport. It is great to profile you in our #FollowFriday feature. How did you discover gsport?
Thank you very much for the consideration. I discovered gsport through my role as an ambassador for Brand South Africa Play Your Part. I had the absolute honour of presenting an award on behalf of Brand SA PYP at the Momentum gsport Awards in August 2020.
What do you like about the initiative and the role it is playing in women’s sport?
Profiling women in sport is something which has never been a priority because it’s such a male dominant field. I love the fact that the initiative aims to shine more spotlight on women in sport and it celebrates women who are making massive strides in the sports fraternity. There are many women that are talented in sports, young girls and its absolutely paramount that we celebrate and show representation in the sporting fraternity.
You had the honour of presenting the Brand SA Supporter of the Year award at the Momentum gsport Awards show. What was that experience like for you to represent BSA?
It was an incredible honour to be in the same room with such powerful women who are shattering barriers and taking up spaces in fields which were previously male dominated. It was a really humbling experience to be a part of a movement which is aimed at celebrating women and paving the way for the next generation to come.
Tell us about your fitness and wellness journey. How did it all start?
My fitness journey started in 2017. I had gained a tremendous amount of weight over the course of 12 months (about 15kg to be precise). This was a result of a few personal challenges which I had not dealt with and I was at that point in time involved in a toxic relationship which affected my wellbeing.
I gained weight through emotional and comfort eating, food was my solitude and I used it to self-medicate. Unfortunately, I was not in the position to afford therapy at the moment and gym was what truly saved my life. It became my coping mechanism and gym gave me a sense of renewed purpose. I had something to look forward to when I woke up every day. I simply fell in love with it by day, especially as I started seeing the physical results of it.
Unfortunately, it got to a point where gym was simply not enough anymore. I suffered a burn out and was forced to seek psychological help and take time off work. I was subsequently diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety and insomnia and that was how my holistic approach to wellness started.
Gym played its part in ensuring I was physically healthy and well, however for true healing to happen one needs to look at all the pillars of wellness which include taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I am a big advocate of holistic wellness. And, without saying much more, that’s how my journey in fitness commenced.
You are the Founder and CEO of TROVE Wellness. Tell us more about this initiative and how women can get involved?
TROVE WELLNESS was inspired by my own personal wellness journey. Achieving mental, spiritual and emotional ‘fitness’ means looking beyond the umbrella assumption of fitness as physical only. Committing to the practice of holistic wellness has completely transformed the course of my personal journey and as a globally-minded millennial, vigorously pushing various missions and having had the privilege of being guided along the way, my wish and passion has always been to pay it forward by equipping others with the best tools so that they too can become the grandest versions of themselves.
This was more than just fitness but a calling which I believe was planted within me by God. It was in this manner, that TROVE Wellness came into existence. Leaving the comfort of my corporate job was not an easy decision, it was one of the scariest decisions I have ever had to make. I was a brand manager at a global cosmetics company, worked for incredible brands and had one of the best bosses and there was no guarantee that TROVE would work, it was a mere idea at that point in time, however I knew that I was called to be and do something else with my life, something which was bigger than me and I had a duty and responsibility to respond to that calling.
By definition, a trove is ‘a store or a collection of delightful and valuable things’. Thus, TROVE is a conceptual home which is devoted to motivating women to achieve overall wellness – celebrating ourselves along the way; it is a platform where you can find everything related to holistic wellness. Spiritual, mental, emotional and physical wellness. The platform is as a source of guidance as it relates to living a holistically healthy life and equipping you with the right resources and tools so that you can be the best version of yourself yet.
It provides resources such as articles on fitness and nutrition, it has a wellness podcast and national wellness directory which includes wellness professionals such as personal trainers, biokineticists, physiotherapists, psychologists and more.
TROVE hosts national fitness bootcamps dedicated to women as well as corporate wellness events. We have recently launched its E-Commerce store which sells fitness merchandise which aims to help people move more from home. Women can purchase fitness merch from our website and of course find the next bootcamp dates on our website – www.trovewellness.com
As a Brand SA Play Your Part ambassador, tell us about this partnership and how it impacts the work you do?
Being a Brand SA PYP Ambassador has allowed me to advocate and bring more awareness to the importance of wellness in and around the country through wellness seminars and talks. It has provided me with opportunities to network and further the mandate and establish partnerships which are aimed at promoting wellness. Wellness is not a fad, it is important for the quality of one’s life and for our wellbeing. Being supported by Brand SA PYP has provide me the opportunity to advance my goals and mobile people to leading healthier lives.
Who are your favourite women in sport?
Babalwa Latsha, Laura Wolvaardt and Caster Semenya locally. They are excelling in sports which is very male dominated, they are giving all young girls the belief that their dreams matter – representation really matters. Internationally, Serena Williams.
It is Mental Health Awareness month. What is your advice to women in sport who may be struggling at this time?
We are holistic beings and everything is interconnected hence why advocating for holistic wellness is absolutely paramount. There has to be harmony between our mental, emotional and physical health. Our mental and emotional health play a major role in our ability to maintain a good physical health. Mental and emotional distress often shows up as physical symptoms, like insomnia, constipation and lethargy.
We need to continuously check our mental health and emotional health. Sometimes one struggles with being physically active because at times we are not motivated to exercise or be physically active because we could be suffering from stress, depression and other related mental illnesses.
In order to be motivated, disciplined and committed to your physical wellbeing, you need to take care of your mental health. Nourishing your mental health regularly aids with physical health, fosters stronger resilience to stress, improves your mood and outlook, and increases the overall quality of your life.
What are your top three fitness and wellness tips?
There are so many that I would like to share, kindly please see below:
- Always remember your WHY. There will be days when you are not motivated and going back to the drawing board and reminding yourself of the WHY will keep you going.
- Choose to make the change for yourself and nobody else.
- Weight management is a very personal journey.
- Focus on cultivating small daily habits, they lead to the bigger goal.
- It’s 80% what you do in the kitchen and 20% exercise.
- With regards to diet, try to maintain the 80/20 rule meaning: 80% of the time try and consume nutrient dense food which fill you up for longer and do leave room to enjoy treats you love 20% of the time. Balance is important.
- Learn to celebrate the small wins, they give you enough happy hormones to continue pushing for the next achievement.
- Listen to your body when its tired and make time for rest.
- Sleep plays an integral role in your fitness journey, prioritize it.
- Stop with the fad diets and diets which are highly restrictive.
- They often result in binge eating which often lead to eating disorders.
- Practice mindful and intuitive eating.
- Celebrate what your body can do instead of punishing it for your past mistakes.
What are your wishes for 2021?
My wish is to further the mandate of TROVE Wellness and grow an African footprint. Expand the TROVE umbrella by launching its nutrition and fitness wear pillars.
What is your greatest ambition?
For TROVE to become the go to wellness company for women in Africa and the rest of the world.