Dr Nandipa Mafongosi's journey to Diamond status


Dr Nandipa Mafongosi, a paediatrician who lives in Cape Town, started off not knowing how to cycle or swim. Now she's an endurance athlete and fitness ambassador.

You'd never guess that Dr Mafongosi learned to swim and ride a bike after she turned 30. Seven years into her fitness journey, she now has four Comrades Marathons, five Two Oceans and several 94.7 cycle tours under her belt. Now she's adamant about training others.

"I'm an endurance addict, but I started out as a couch potato. I joined Vitality in 2012 while I was on maternity leave. I wanted to get back into shape and signed up to join the gym.

She adds: "The gym benefit alone makes it a no-brainer to join. I took a Discovery Life policy to access it and along with the monthly Vitality fee, the costs are balanced off with my savings on gym alone."

Rewards pushed her on

"I'm on the rewards train and I tell everyone who will listen about how I maximise my Discovery Miles and savings," she laughs.

She went from learning how to run on a treadmill to parkrun and short marathons. "I used to get so excited to get 600 points at races. I was a little obsessed about collecting points," she laughs. "After three years, I got to Diamond status and have maintained it since."

"I want people to know that if you count the rewards, you don't pay anything for the Vitality membership at all. I use Pick n Pay as my HealthyFood items partner and get rewards on groceries. We shop at Dis-Chem for personal care, which is also rewarded. I also have a Discovery Bank card, so those Discovery Miles add up."

She adds that even during COVID-19 lockdowns, she used all her allocated flight discounts. "I max my flights out every year, locally and internationally"

"I also buy all my equipment and gear at Sportsmans Warehouse. I got a mountain bike plus the Wahoo indoor smart trainer which I've bought with Vitality ActiveGear - again at huge discounts," she says.

Anyone can do it

"I learned to ride a bike in December 2014 when my daughter was three, so we could learn together. I learned to swim in 2015 while I was based in Port Elizabeth. I joined the Vukani Multi Sport Club - they encourage women to take up Ironman events and triathlons. It's quite nerve-wracking because you have to swim in the ocean, but by 2017, I did my first Ironman."

Now, Dr Mafongosi is part of the Bafazi Cycling Movement, which encourages women to cycle, and she is teaching others to swim. "I really enjoyed teaching people to swim. I took an exam to be a swimming coach, and it became my passion outside of medicine."


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