Bodybuilder and personal trainer Zinhle Masango. Picture: Supplied
Pushover, weak and victim are words that don’t exist in the vocabulary of bodybuilder and personal trainer Zinhle Masango.

After being used as a punching bag by her ex-fiancé, she decided to fight back and regained her confidence by turning to the gym.

Her life became a misery when her fiancé started violently abusing her - their son was only six months old.

To protect herself, Masango went to the gym because she had always thought that looking intimidating and strong would help protect her.

After some time, she saw her body changing and that’s when she fell in love with fitness.

Now she’s a fitness junkie and has more than 27 000 followers, competes on international bodybuilding stages and has been the cover girl for Fit Life magazine.

Masango’s story has a happy ending and it’s when she has found love and trended on social media on the couple goal hashtag.

We caught up with her to find out more about her journey and where she is in her career.

Her life story should be testament to all South Africans as we mark 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10.

Give us an update of where you are in your life right now, your career, spiritually and at home?

Just the other day I was telling my colleague that for the first time in my life I am genuinely happy. I’ve found love, inner peace and I am in tune with myself. Having come from an abusive relationship, I have grown a thick skin and found that I am more emotionally stable and strong. I have also been abundantly blessed throughout these past two years and I have no one but God to thank for that.

You and your partner, Limpho Tlali, are fitness goals. Please tell us how your relationship started?

We meet via social media, he actually slid into my DM’s and asked for a gym session. We linked up and had a bomb back session. A day later, he asked me out on a lunch date.

Now, we both plan on hitting the stage again in March. We aim to push the “Mama le Papa Fitness” brand and inspire couples to stay healthy together. We are working on a couple’s conference for February 2019.

How difficult is it to maintain your fitness goals?

For me maintaining my goals is not that difficult as I have made this a lifestyle. However, I am human and I do fall off the wagon, but I go back to the drawing board and remind myself about my goals and why I am doing this.

I also understand that a lot of people look up to me so that also keeps me going.

What is your greatest fitness achievement by far?

It has to be going on stage and competing in bodybuilding. At the Provincial Championships, I placed 2nd and was chosen to represent Gauteng at the National Championships and at Nationals I placed 2nd again and was chosen to represent South Africa in the UK.

Is there a specific diet you are following?

I have a coach and he basically gives me an eating plan. But my diet is very balanced with protein, complex carbs, fats and of cause the occasional cheat meal. However, when I am preparing to go on stage, I follow a very strict diet. I eat 5-6 small meals a day.

Zinhle Masango

Take us through your daily exercise routine?

Off-season training - when I am not prepping for a competition. I train each muscle group a day and do fast cardio 3 times a week. Monday: Legs, Tuesday: Back and abs, Wednesday: Chest and abs, Thursday: Glutes and Friday: Shoulder and arms.

In-season training - when I am prepping for a competition.

I train each muscle group twice a day. I also take ice baths every night to help with recovery and inflammation.

Share your advice on aspiring fitness junkies?

We all know that the gym is great for mental and physical well-being. When you train, you’ll have more energy. Training also helps you lose weight and is great for your skin; and when you look good, you feel good.