A LONG WALK TO FITNESS FREEDOM
Priest and fitness entrepreneur embark on a marathon walk to highlight importance of a healthy lifestyle
To highlight the importance of treating the body well and raise funds for a new, non-profit company aimed at bringing wellness centres to rural communities, fitness entrepreneur, Dwain Swiegers, and priest, Father Stephen Tully, intend setting out on an intense month-long walk from Lesotho to Eswatini (Swaziland) via South Africa and Mozambique.
On April 23, the two will set off on The Unity Walk. This will begin at Sani Pass in Lesotho, where Father Tully from the Napier Centre for Healing near Verulam in KwaZulu-Natal – which offers residential care for recovering drug abusers – and Swiegers, a biokineticist and the founder of Gyms4Africa – a non-profit company focused on building wellness centres in poor communities – will climb the highest mountain in southern Africa called Thabana Ntlenyana.
The walk will then continue to the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal along the coastline to Mozambique and finally end on 23 May in Eswatini, covering a total distance of approximately 1,000km.
Unhealthy diets, inappropriate alcohol consumption and a lack of physical activity are all linked to chronic, or noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), that cause disability and kill more than 41 million people around the world every year, and have a significant financial impact on individuals, communities and the broad economy.
World Health Organisation (WHO) data shows that NCDs are most prevalent in poor communities where people are more at risk of cardiovascular disease which causes diabetes, cancer and respiratory diseases. Through lifestyle modification focusing on movement, sleep, nutrition and hydration, the tide can be turned.
“Lifestyle diseases such as these can be prevented just by treating your body well,” says Swiegers, who is also the founder of SA Biokineticists – the largest biokineticist group in South Africa.
“Gyms4Africa aims to address three primary areas of concern – basic, human essential needs like food and clean drinking water, access to a space conducive to moving well and understanding why we need to move.”
“Treating your body well and exercising are not to grow big biceps. It’s to rid the body of harmful toxins and condition it so that our joints, ligaments, bones and tendons heal well and recover. When we look after our body, by eating, drinking water and exercising, and adopt movement as medicine – as part of our lifestyle and social culture – that all happens naturally, which is what we are focusing on in our centres,” says Swiegers.
The Unity Walk will be highlighting the importance of exercise, rural healthcare and the new Gyms4Africa charity organisation as well as to raise funds and other support for the project.
“We have a pandemic in Africa where millions of Africans are dying unnecessarily from NCDs. Our main purpose is to educate and give opportunities to disadvantaged communities. We want to partner with other NPCs to enhance our offering and bring the change and support to one community centre,” he continues.
Gyms4Africa plans to set up light steel-frame construction facilities in poor and isolated communities where there is no access to clean drinking water. The simple structures will offer clean drinking water, either from boreholes or water-from-air machines, seed drop and collection points, providing training on self-sustainable farming, health-promotion material on issues such as sleep, diet and wound-cleaning and fitness equipment for strength and conditioning exercises.
Swiegers believes the gyms, which will initially be focused on deep rural areas, will be life-changing as they will offer opportunities for community members and the youth to get involved in health and fitness and help them to better understand how to live healthier lives that promote longevity and wellbeing.
For more information and to donate to the cause, visit the Gyms4Africa website https://gyms4africa.com.