From Fashion to Fitness

Meet Tumi Peele, a young woman who took the bold step and switched careers to follow her passion and purpose as a professional trainer. Here, she talks to TROVE about weight loss, the right training sneakers and why you should invest in a personal trainer.



Tell us about yourself

Ola! My name is Tumi Peele and I was born and raised in Rustenburg, and later moved to Joburg to study and switched careers from producing fashion shows to working in the fitness industry, currently as a coach at the most efficient gym in the world (lol)


When did your career as a personal trainer begin and how?

I played sports all through school and that ended in varsity as it unfortunately does for most people. I took a year off from studying because anxiety and depression were kicking my butt and that’s when I took up running again. I had always done sprints and field events and long distance were new to me, but I dedicated my year to training towards the Two Oceans Marathon for the first time ever and boy did things change. I am not saying that exercise cures anxiety and depression, from my experience, it doesn’t, what it did for me however, was lend me a positive coping mechanism, a new way of facing challenges ( because “running is the hardest, easiest thing”- Kabelo Thathe) and I developed a brand new way of speaking to myself. This is where my coaching truly began. The best gift I had gotten at this point though was a supportive community with new friends who had the same goals and they became like family. Nike Run Club helped change my life from 2012 all the way to 2017


How/When did you start training? How did you become interested in fitness?

I’ve always been active, but I started running with the Nike Run Club in 2015 and from then on started training regularly. I started working in a gym in 2017 as a wellness manager and that’s when I took training and fitness seriously. I later studied personal training and now work as a coach.


Your number one philosophy?

If you have a body, you’re an athlete. That’s a Nike motto. Not only does it encourage me to constantly break my own mold and challenge my body in new and sometimes scary ways, but it’s so encouraging for clients and members who have never been very active or aren’t comfortable in the gym or feel like they don’t belong any close to any fitness category. The body was created to move. All bodies


What types of cardio do you do weekly and how much do you do it for? 

I hate cardio! lol! But I love running so that’s pretty much all the cardio I am doing at the moment. I am training for the Two Ocean’s Half Marathon, so my cardio is a combination of long runs, recovery runs, fartlek workouts, and hill repeats


Overview of your current work out regime?

Currently, this is what my training split looks like:

Day 1:  LISS (easy paced recovery run) + Glutes & Hamstrings

Day 2: Shoulders & abs + 20min HIIT

Day 3: Quads  + speed interval training

Day 4: Active Recovery

Day 5: Arms & Back + LISS (stair master/easy paced recovery run)

Day 6: Glutes & Hamstrings + 20 min HIIT

Day 7: Shoulders & abs + Long Run

Day 8: Rest Day



I really enjoy HIIT functional training. So sometimes, if our gym isn’t too busy, I fit in more than 2 sessions in a week and my split will more than likely change in a couple of weeks when I start training with my competition prep coach.

What advice would you give anyone trying to lose weight?

Any sort of body transformation is always going to be challenging, no matter what your starting point is. Three things to always keep in mind:

A comparison is the thief of joy! If you keep using somebody else’s journey as a benchmark of your own, you will never celebrate the small victories of your journey. Those are ultimately what makes it all fulfilling.

There are no quick fixes, spot reductions, easy ways to changing. Transforming bad habits into healthy, sustainable ones take a lot of time, dedication, sweat and honestly, tears too.

Rule number 1 is that you’ve gotta have fun! This is an entire lifestyle change, something that you need to look forward to doing daily, something that adds to your day. There are many ways to reach your fitness goals whilst enjoying every step and it is important to find the elements that suit your lifestyle and personality in order to make them sustainable


How does one shed those lost few stubborn kilos?

I don’t enjoy these kinds of questions because it speaks to a very warped mindset when it comes to fitness and body transformations. Now, for some people; setting a goal date like losing x kgs by my birthday or shedding for the Wedding, act as huge motivational factors to reach said goal. However, this mindset adds an anxiety factor that tends to make us use exercise as punishment as opposed to using it as a celebration of all the epic things your body can actually do. Women especially tend to be lured in with these quick fixes catchphrases and our women’s interest magazines don’t do enough to shift this paradigm when it comes to one’s relationship with their body and how to go about transforming it if that is what you wish to do.

Now, if you are one of those date driven women, a slight alteration in nutrition or exercise protocol may be the answer to your dilemma. Fitness can never be a one-size-fits-all program, so more often than not, 7 Day Detoxes or emergency shred programs do not get the job done. My advice is that people seek professional assistance. We all entered the industry because our desire is to help people celebrate their bodies. A dietitian, nutritionist, Biokineticist or certified trainer could help you find the reason and solution to beat the plateau and reach your goal.


When can one start incorporating weight training in their exercise regime?

Again, fitness is not a one-size-fits-all hat and depending on your goals, training history, age etc, when and just how much or how hard you should go is completely different from one person to the other. But generally one can incorporate weights right from the beginning of their journey.


How important is the type of sneakers you wear when exercising?

Footwear is more important than we give it credit for. I know I may sound like a broken record by now, but if there is one thing you can gather from everything I have said so far, you must know your body, your goals so that you can run this race your way. The way our feet tread as we run/walk differs from person to person, you will need a pair of shoes perfectly suited to how your foot moves and how it is structured. Not doing so could affect your form, causing injury, lend to wear and tear and really just prevent you from attaining the full benefits of your different exercises. The Nike stores, Sportsman’s Warehouse and the Sweat Shop give free gait analyses, where you run or walk on the treadmill in store and your gait is recorded and assessed and a pair of shoes is recommended according to how your foot moves. I personally love to train barefoot. I do a lot of functional training and I have found that my proprioception has improved immensely, helping me move better. YAASS!

How often should one train?

Another question that I am not a fan of because of the blanket recommendation that usually comes as the answer. Speak to a professional about your goals and training history and you can come to a challenging yet sensible and safe program to reach your goals. As a rule of thumb 3 days, a week is great as you build the habit of working out


What are the benefits of having a personal trainer?

Personal Trainers have the expertise to tailor programs that are suitable for individual needs and current capabilities. Working with one to reach your goals lends you the advantage of a science-based training that will get you to your goal physique without injury or metabolic damage. A few things to keep in mind when looking for a trainer:

1. 1 on 1 training is incredibly personal, so you need to find a trainer that you can stand to work with at the crack of dawn. We have all sorts of personalities and coaching styles so make use of their trials to see if their style is one you can vibe with. 1 hour is a very long time to hold tears in, stay woke!

2. There are specializations in training too so make sure that your potential trainer is qualified and proficient in the particular area of training that concerns you. For example, if you are a new mom or are pregnant make sure that your trainer is qualified in pre and post-partum training, if you are working towards entering a fitness competition, make sure your trainer is already training that particular demographic, if you are looking to put on weight or getting ready for an endurance race ensure that this is the area that your trainer specializes in. If they are situated in a gym, this information is readily available on the PT wall or from the Fitness or Wellness Manager.

3. Make sure you have a contract!
Your pair of favourite sneakers and why?

1. My Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33s have been very good to me, but they have clocked well over 1000kms now and I’m looking to get the 34s as I get ready for Two Oceans Marathon in April.

2. My Nike Free RN’s are my favourites for sprints

3. My Under Armour HOVR’s are my favourite everyday walking around shoes

4. I need new weightlifting shoes though because commercial gyms won’t let me jam my sessions barefoot! lol


Three tips to those that look up to you for inspiration?

* Rule number 1 is that you’ve gotta have fun!

* Find a community of fit friends that you can go on fit dates with and sweat, bleed and cry with.

* Focus on why. The fitness journey isn’t always as fun as it looks on my Instagram but if you keep your mind on why you started, every little victory makes the journey worth all the pain


Where do you plan to be in the next 3 years?

Still coaching people. I’ve entered my first ever fitness competition and it is taking place this June and I’m participating in the competition just as a personal challenge and depending on the experience, I will probably still be doing that in 3 years, but my main area of focus is empowering women, particularly black women as professionals in the fitness industry.

1 Comment

  • Siyanda Gxekwa
    Posted April 3, 2019 4:02 pm 0Likes

    I am battling to lose weight on my belly due to suffering from the slow metabolism, which foods to eat and not to eat?

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