Hi, my name is Tabby Tsengiwe and I am one of Temotio (Temo) Jacopo clients.  I have been asked to share a bit about my journey.


I joined Old Mutual at the beginning of February 2018 as a new externally recruited employee.  The company had just moved to their new headquarters opposite the Sandton Gautrain Station.  I was shown the well-equipped onsite gym facilities  during my orientation of the building on my first day.  That is when I saw Temo (amongst other trainers) for the first time.  I thought this is the guy that will train me one day….when my mind is ready.


You see, I was not diligent with my training and the laziness had grown into a habit that I couldn’t shake off – I’m told it takes three days maximum for a behaviour to become a habit.  My habit was well over three months, let alone the three days.  I was “Ms. Lazy Bones” ever since I moved back to Johannesburg at the end of 2015 after two years in Somerset West.  Whilst living in Somerset West, I had a personal trainer – Suné at the local Virgin Active located in the Waterstone Shopping Mall.  I was committed to a 3-times a week 1:1 session with her – come rain or shine and regardless of how much champagne had been consumed the day before.  I was beyond committed and I ALWAYS showed up because I thoroughly enjoyed the “after feeling.”  Suné was a smiley slave-driver but I truly enjoyed the hard training and could see the results.  Listen I was H.O.T!!!  I had “hot” legs, flat tummy and a body to die for – of course the pictures are always good for such hindsight. 


At Old Mutual, I became acquainted with Temo more closely through a common colleague and someone I look up to – Khanyi Chaba who we all affectionately refer to as Sis K.  For someone her age, I was struck by her gorgeous physique and fitness regimen.  She was training to climb some mountain in Russia and was being trained for this by Temo.  I decided, after seeing some colleagues’ results from a “weight loss challenge” at the end of 2018 that I would sign him up as my personal trainer.  My mind was ready…..


I had the Two Oceans Half Marathon which was coming up in April of 2018 to train for.  All I wanted to do was to FINISH within the prescribed cut-off time and secure myself the historic 50th anniversary medal of the 2018 event.  I signed up for the training preparation very late with Temo and truth be told, I didn’t stick to my end of the bargain in terms of honouring most of my training sessions with him.  The travel messed up my plans completely and the self-doubt and negativity I had about participating was overwhelming.  The amount of faith he showed in my ability to FINISH was all the encouragement I needed.  Couple the poor preparation with a persistent calf pain and the prospects of me laying my hands on that medal seemed further and further away.


Let me confess that the ONLY reason I made it to the START line was because I really didn’t want to let Temo down.  It was no longer about me per se but about the pride I wanted to see on his face when we met at the FINISH line – me with my Half Marathon medal, him with his 56km Marathon medal.  I had to go for acupuncture two days before the race and get my left calf properly strapped on the proviso (by the physiotherapist) that IF I felt the slightest pain, I would drop out of the race.  I made that “empty” promise knowing that once I start I had to FINISH.  I had too much riding on it – my husband and my sons had gone home to the Eastern Cape for Easter without me – I had sacrificed being with my family for this.  My husband had been my source of encouragement on many early mornings to get out of bed to honour my training sessions with Temo so I could be as prepared as was possible to FINISH.  I lead a team of 17 Communications specialists who were routing for me to FINISH – I was the Old Mutual spokesperson for some of the publicity associated with this event.  It would be extremely embarrassing not to FINISH.  Needless to say that I did feel the pain in my left calf shortly after the 10km mark as I was about to tackle the uphill of Southern Cross Drive.  I was certain that I would not be one of the event’s “Ambulance passenger statistics.”  By my calculation; turning back was going to be another 10km, which would end up being 1km short of completing the race anyway.  I decided to proceed – I had a race to FINISH & a family waiting to see my medal when we were reunited in Jo’burg.  Needless to say I got to the UCT track and crossed the FINISH line with a couple of minutes to  spare.  I couldn’t believe it, the excitement, the relief, the JOY of finishing was something I still can’t put into words today. 


As I waited for Temo to complete his Marathon, I wondered where on the 56km route he was and what could possibly be going through his mind.  I’m told that the first question he asked when he crossed the FINISH line was whether I had done so in time to get my medal.  The celebration in the Old Mutual hospitality facility was well worth everything I had done in preparation for this race.


Winter set in and as always, so did my excuses to reduce the required consistency of my training.  Soon, the August & September months approached and I knew I had to get my training groove back.  The beauty about Temo is that he does not nag anyone to attend training sessions but is a constant “guilt factor” in your subconscious because deep down inside, you know you owe it to yourself to become what you intend to be.  During the warmer time of year, I got back into training.    


I had gained a lot of weight as “Ms. Lazy Bones” but had not been brave enough to get on the scale.  I was not ready for the depressing confirmation of what I knew, could feel and see in my clothes.  Listen, there is nothing worse than the confirmation of difficulty buttoning up your tight shirts, really tight jacket sleeves and belts that no longer “have the holes,” like literally out of space…….yho!  My mind was beyond ready for Temo – my body needed it.  It was pictures from a November Northcliff Stairs workout session and the December 2019 holiday that completely sealed it for me.  I did not like what I saw in those pictures at all. 


I got back to work on 8 January 2020 but had to travel to KZN on business that day.  I’d already made the appointment with Temo and rocked up at the Old Mutual gym at 5am on 9 January ready to start sweating.  The first thing he did was instruct me to “get on the scale!”  Oh boy…..the inevitable confirmation of 99.6kg was more than I could take but I put on a brave face.  This was the heaviest I’ve ever been without a smallanyana person growing in my tummy.  I could not even share the news with my husband when I got home – I just said “I have a LOT of working out to do Babes.”


Temo was quick to work out a training programme for me and let me tell you – the FIRST THREE DAYS were by far the hardest of my life.  My ready mind kept repeating “it takes three days for a behaviour to become a habit!”  On some days I would curse out loud and others I would dispel the myth and ask myself “who has scientific proof of this assertion?”  On some mornings I would get to the gym and truly not be in the mood to workout and Temo would just say “it’s OK Sisi!”  That statement has always been enough to make me feel so guilty.  On days when I was ready to “fight” with him, he just wouldn’t take the bait…..what a patient person. 


There have been days when my travel schedule truly has not been accommodating of my training sessions.  Even during those times, Temo would still be “present” by sending me a workout schedule.  This has motivated me to roll out of that hotel bed and find the nearest Virgin Active or use the hotel gym facilities to ensure I could be accountable to my personal trainer.  Then there were mornings when he’d say let’s go for a quick 5km run – what a tall order in my world.  He always leads the way and literally stops cars and indicates our approach to passers-by.  Hills have a psychology to them I’ve learnt through Temo’s coaching “Sisi use your toes and move your arms – toes, arms, toes, arms, BREATHE, toes, arms, toes, arms, BREATHE – let’s go Sisi!”  Listen this Covid-19 has nothing on that kind, encouraging voice to move me up those hills now – it rings in my ears   like a stuck record.  The rhythm I’ve established and the strength I’ve worked on building with Temo is beyond my own comprehension most times.  Of course the onset of Covid-19 has meant that we must find new ways of working out – enter Zoom.  That Temo is something else – I cannot believe that I’ve been getting up for 6am workout sessions and following that with a run that is never less than 5km.  Listen he has put forward a challenge that I have to accomplish for the end of July and as I write this I’ve got nine days to go.  I know how far I am but I want to REVEAL all on 31st July which also happens to be my youngest son’s 15th birthday.  I suppose I owe myself that birthday gift.  For now, indulge in some pictures which illustrate part of this journey.


Covid-19 was never part of anyone’s plan right??  I mean let alone my own fitness preparation – I had the bold ambition of running my FIRST full marathon this year and the plan was to be in Cape Town in September for the Sanlam Marathon.  I still intend to run my Marathon – even if I complete just ONE in my lifetime.  With a trainer and encourager like Temo, I know I will cross a marathon FINISH line soon.  I look forward to that day.


He is a dedicated trainer, passionate about his profession and a philanthropist.  Temo is committed to using his fitness to alleviate poverty and the suffering of others.  I’ve been amazed by his compassion for those less fortunate and using his physical abilities as a form of relief and giving back.  We need more people like him.

Tabby Tsengiwe