Fit & fab

It is almost impossible to believe that Noordheuwel’s sweet and petite Donna Groothedde turns into a drill sergeant once you set foot in her gym … She chats about finding the balance between being a businesswoman, mom and creative spirit.

At just 34 years old she is the owner of the popular and successful Donna’s Health and Fitness, but following her dreams has been a long and bumpy road.

She was just two and a half when she took an interest in gymnastics and exercising. Donna used to roll around and do cartwheels and handstands which she copied from what she saw on TV. She nagged her parents endlessly to take her for proper classes until they one day took her seriously enough and gave in. When she was seven years old she finally got the opportunity to join a gymnastics class and get proper training. She went on to achieve provincial colours for seven consecutive years. That set the ball rolling for her fitness journey. During her school career, she also excelled at netball and athletics.

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‘Although my passion has always been health and fitness, I was also good at art and photography and I had a knack for film, so my teachers, friends and family encouraged me to move in that direction after finishing school because they didn’t believe there was a future in fitness at that point. I did a four-year honours degree in design and I started my own business. I wanted to use my creativity to make a difference in people’s lives by telling their stories, but it didn’t work out that way. No matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t happy so I took the leap and enrolled to do a two-year diploma in exercise science. While I studied, I continued to work in production and as a swimming instructor in order to pay off my student loan’.

Donna has since done seven sub qualifications which took an additional one and a half years and she is currently busy with another sub qualification in nutrition as well as an advanced certification in exercise science.

When she started helping people become healthier and more confident, she realised that she was exactly in the field she needed to be in. Now, Donna’s Health and Fitness focuses on training for women and men of all ages and sizes, offering cardio kickboxing and cross-training, circuit classes, personal training, Rebounce, Spinning, Yogalates, The Weight Studio, an in-house dietitian, inhouse biokineticist and a state-of-the-art medical machine, allowing them to accurately measure each individual’s body composition and health status. She is determined and although it sounds like a cliché, she is very hard-working.

‘Even being diagnosed with chronic asthma and my three pregnancies couldn’t stop me. I worked and exercised until the day before my youngest was born in 2017. I feel very proud and humble-looking back on my journey. I’m aware of the fact that it can change in a heartbeat so I always work hard and take nothing for granted. I plan to do a qualification in life coaching as it goes hand in hand with leading a healthy life.’

Women’s health is particularly important to her. Donna not only loves to make women feel more confident in their bodies but she also focuses a lot on pre- and postnatal exercises. What we love most about Donna is her very witty sense of humour.

She loves joking and making people laugh. Although Donna is career-driven, she tries not to take life too seriously. And … if you’re wondering if Donna ever feels as lazy as the rest of us, the answer is yes! Just like anyone else, there are days that she isn’t in the mood to exercise.

‘Some days I want to take a break from exercising but I know how important exercise is, especially for my asthma so I have to stay on track. On those days, I put on my tights, work-out shirt and takkies and I just start to exercise. Once you’ve started, you realise that it’s not that bad and by the time you are done, you are happy that you pushed through it. The secret is to take it one day at a time.’

She grew up in Krugersdorp and spent an exciting gap year in Scotland, but returned home to put down roots.

‘I have always looked up to my parents who have been married for more than 40 years. I have a sister and two brothers with whom I have a very close relationship. Although everyone encouraged me to move into design, they always supported my decision to move into fitness too. My family has always been very supportive of me, particularly my parents, but my husband is still my biggest supporter. He believes in me even more than I believe in myself. I’ve known him since Grade 2, but we only ended up together after school. We fell madly in love and after he got his third proper paycheck, he bought me a ring and now we have been married for eight years. I think our marriage is so strong because we were best friends before we fell in love. We now have three beautiful children who are very active and enjoy copying me when they see me exercising.’

While Donna doesn’t really like to cook, she spends a lot of time in the kitchen, preparing organic meals from scratch for her family. She might have put her creative career behind her, but she still enjoys breaking away from the hard work. She likes to play guitar and piano and sings when she finds the time.

‘My hubby and I used to occasionally hike on weekends but that went out the door when we became parents. Now we visit friends and family over the weekend, but I need one day or at least half a day to relax and recharge.’

Look out for Donna while she’s taking a jog in the neighbourhood … you cannot miss her as she is always smiling!

Details: 072 243 8470, [email protected] or follow her on Facebook, Donna’s Health& Fitness.

Short & sweet:

What is your least
favourite exercise? I love running but hate treadmills.
In your fridge … Lots of fruit and veggies.
Guilty pleasure? My mom’s macaroni and cheese with bacon bits.
Who would play you in a film about your life? Natalie Portman.
What do you listen to when you exercise? Paramore, Muse and Queen.
What is your go-to workout outfit? Highwaisted tights and a loose three-quarter top


We’ve got an amazingly fab give away … One reader can win a voucher to gym at Donna’s Health and Fitness twice a week for one month – choose from cardio kickboxing, rebounce, spinning or yogalates. PLUS, Donna will throw in a full body assessment and food group advice. Simply fill in the form below to enter:

Gym voucher


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