With her bubbly attitude, ready smile and beautifully toned figure, Marizelle Grobler is the very essence of health and vitality. Get it catches up with her and husband, JP.
Marizelle, or Maz as she is better known to friends and family, wasn’t always the picture of health she is now. At the tender age of 15, she had a brain tumour removed. “I was on treatment for it until the age of 20,” she says. “In my final year at varsity, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which was actually a relief, because I had been battling with some very strange symptoms and constant pain,” she explains.
After finishing her matric year, Maz attended a Gap Academy, which gives you a year to do a variety of short courses, helping you to find your future path. “This is where I found my calling,” she says. “I absolutely adored my health, wellness and fitness course, which led me to study kinesiology, a field of health in which you learn how to assist the body in healing itself by using muscle testing to find imbalances.”
Maz soon discovered she had a keen interest in sports, fitness and nutrition, and how these factors influence our bodies to perform better. “I went on to do a degree in sports science with the hope of becoming a fitness coach or personal trainer at the end of it. However, when that was completed, I managed to get good enough grades to further my degree with an honours in biokinetics, and that was where my passion for helping people with rehab through exercise modalities and chronic disease management grew.” She completed her internship year at a practice in Ballito, which she loved, with its laid-back vibe and health- and fitness-conscious outlook. “I fell in love with the town, and continued working there as a biokineticist at a beautiful gym in Zimbali Estate. I absolutely loved my lifestyle there, and I lived and breathed work 24/7.”
This mindset unfortunately led to burnout just before the Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdown hit. “I was really in the thick of my all-or-nothing approach at work, struggling to find balance, over-exercising and under-eating, and about 10kg heavier than I am now. My body just had enough, I suppose, and I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. It forced me to completely change the way I eat and how I exercise, and I started researching self-care and finding balance in all areas of my life. I always say, as crazy as it sounds, that lockdown was my saving grace, because in hindsight, although I loved my job, I really had no balance whatsoever.”
Maz met her husband, JP, in 2015 at the gym where they both trained, but at the time she had no interest in a relationship. “I had set myself very high goals,” she says, “and I just didn’t need complications or distractions as a student. I laugh at this now. He was a rugby player – fit, handsome and seemed to really have his life in order, and there was no real reason to keep declining. Then, after a year of this guy asking me on dates, I finally gave in and said we could go to gym together. It was very important for me to find someone with the same values in health and lifestyle. Well, after that, the rest was history.”
Leaving her job and a cute little flat overlooking the ocean was never part of the plan for Marizelle, but sometimes life happens and you have to change direction. “Everything happened suddenly,” she says. “JP had been very sick due to Covid, and then his grandfather passed away, and his family needed him to help on the farm. His job had also taken a knock, although my job was just getting back on track, and we’d planned to get married in Ballito. We thought about it and made the decision to take a leap of faith, move to Mpumalanga and start afresh after our wedding.
“My husband is in his element here,” she smiles. “We have two doggos and they love the farm. There is so much open space for them to play in. Now, in my spare time I like to be outdoors – I love going for walks, playing with the dogs, golfing on weekends and connecting with family over an afternoon braai. We are homebodies, so we spend lots of time at home rather than being out and about. We enjoy going to Marloth Park and the Kruger, we love doing self-drives, packing a picnic basket, and just travelling from point A to B, admiring nature. We also have family in Mbombela, and we try to visit as often as possible – it’s just around the corner now rather than a full day’s trip.”
Living on the farm means that Maz has had to adapt her training methods, and she uses various online platforms to connect with her clients through her studio, MazBiofit, which includes biokinetics, Pilates, personal training and health coaching. She also utilises kinesiology principles to help her clients with mental health, mindset and lifestyle modifications.
“How it works is I do consultations with my client, and then prescribe exercise or nutrition. We’ll set up a session, which is usually 30-60 minutes long, where we chat online using Zoom. From there I draw up their plan, which includes exercise prescription, nutritional changes, lifestyle modifications and mindset work. They receive the entire plan via an app I use that allows me to keep track of everything the client logs. For example, I can see when they do a workout, which is great for accountability and keeping clients motivated.
“We also have weekly check-ins in which we discuss difficulties or challenges, just as you would chat to your coach in person. I continually make changes to the plan as needs be. The thing about one-on-one coaching is that it’s tremendously individualised, so no one plan will look like another; there’s no monotony. I also offer live online Zoom exercise training sessions, Pilates and final-phase rehabilitation,” she adds.
Two things Maz is especially passionate about, are holistic health and women’s health. She believes that holistic health is the way forward when it comes to treating disease, as well as general well-being and fitness. “A holistic approach takes into account the entirety of the person – it isn’t a case of just looking at certain aspects. It looks into the patient’s lifestyle, what they eat, if and how they move, and it factors in variables like sleep and stress. All of these lifestyle factors have a profound effect on how you feel; your energy levels and your mental health. I am also passionate about women’s health,” she continues. “I feel women should be given the tools to really understand their bodies, such as why we experience fluctuations in energy, mood and weight. I teach all of this in my one-on-one coaching services; we adjust workouts, nutrition and rest according to each woman’s unique needs.”
Maz’s future plans include growing her online presence and online health coaching business, making an impact via her specific coaching principles, and leading by example. “We also hope, God willing,” she says, shyly, “that we will have a two-legged baby in the near future. Our four-legged babies are like our children. Let me just add that if you’re a dog person, I already like you!” Maz and JP say their goodbyes on their way to pick up a young sibling at Curro Nelspruit. “I hope the traffic won’t be too heavy,” JP muses, “although we may as well get used to it – it will be good practice for when we have our own!”
Photographer: Belinda Erasmus
Make-up: Elsabé Steyn
Venue: The Blue Gate