The Sunday Mail
LANCE Dhlakama’S life story can best be told in one of two ways; as a tragic tale of failed promise or an inspiring account of perseverance over adversity.
It’s been three years since the former Sharks Academy alum laced up his rugby boots, as torn ankle ligaments robbed him of a promising career.
“My rugby story started when I was in high school when I came across a VHS tape of the 1995 rugby world cup in South Africa,” said the 25-year-old.
“I was a year old, when the tournament took place, but I remember being in awe of the physicality of the sport as I watched old footage.
“It is there and then I decided that is what I wanted to do.
“I was at Eaglesvale at the time, and approached the rugby coach Mr Benito, to see if I could join,” he said.
As if a sign of things to come; Dhlakama soon developed a knack for the sport and quickly rose to prominence making a couple of Craven week squads, earning a few Zimbabwe call ups at age group level and the Goshawks before ending at the Sharks Academy.
Unfortunately, it is then that his career took a turn for the worst as he barely made an impact in South Africa thanks to career ending ankle injury.
“My stay at the Sharks Academy was terrible; I got injured early into my stay there,” said Dhlakama.
“I had just made the Under-20 Currie Cup squad but tore my ligaments while training. “Over a two-year period there, I spent more time in the gym, rehab table and fighting just to walk until we (the academy and me) made the decision to part ways,” he said.
For the ordinary man, it could have been easy to just give up and seek the comfort of an 8am to 5pm day job, but Dhlakama is not your ordinary man.
Today the 25-year-old is fast making a name for himself in the body fitness game; some even going to the lengths of calling him the “Fitness coach to the Champions”.
As the founder of Body Switch Fitness, and creator of a new innovative ‘Rugby Fit’ programme; Dhlakama’s clientele boasts of everyone from your ordinary stay-at-home mum, the office professional and most recently reigning national league champions Harare Sports Club and African Sevens champions the Cheetahs.
“Well, I have been blessed to get the opportunity to serve as Harare Sports Club’s strength and conditioning coach, but only recently I have been approached by some of the country’s sevens and Sables players.
“It has given me the opportunity to test out a new programme,” said the Sharks alum.
“The Rugby Fit is the culmination of my entire rugby career, specifically my time on the shelf at the Sharks academy.
“I went into the sport with very little knowledge, but plenty of heart and desire and remember we would just run laps and not know why or how they helped.
“Lucky for me, Sharks was well equipped with the resources, knowledge and expertise for my rehab and it is there that I developed a better understanding and passion for the human body.
“I read more, researched a lot and even went to school so I could channel all this into a business,” he said.
It is also round about this time that the rugby fit programme was born.
“It is more of a scientific approach into fitness and conditioning,” said Zvakama.
“As these guys are semi-professional and already have a strict gym regiment, what I do now is work on specific tenets of fitness; monitoring speed, times and dietary regiments.
“The goal is to make sure the body is working in one direction, whether it be speed, developing mass, bulking or losing weight. “I have noticed once the body works in unison, everything from power, speed and even skill improves and it is the job of my programme to make sure all these things happen,” said Dhlakama.
The programme will be on full display when the Cheetahs regroup for camp for the Kwese Sevens International tournament and the Hong Kong Sevens.
Gaffer Gilbert Nyamutsamba has called in a 33-men training squad for the Kwese International Sevens tournament, slated for March 23-24. According to the Cheetahs programmes, the team will be in camp for five days before the Kwese tournament.
The team will resume camp immediately after the tournament, from March 26-29, before traveling to Hong Kong for HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament scheduled for April 5-7.