5 ways to get fit for free in Cape Town

There’s no need to spend money on joining a gym when you’re living in or visiting Cape Town – the city is home to more free fitness facilities, places, groups and classes than you can count! We name five of the best.

If you’ve stayed in Cape Town more than a few days, you’ll soon realise a steady line-up of world-class cuisine and bottomless wine tours can tickle the taste buds but tack-on some unwanted kilos. Lucky for you, there are many ways to get fit for little more than the cost of transportation to some of the city’s most breathtaking destinations.

1. Free Summer Fitness Classes at V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront, Africa’s most popular tourist destination, has teamed up with Virgin Active, Adventure Boot Camp and Kranking Fitness Studio to offer free exercise classes until Saturday, 30 April 2016. Just enough time left to shake off those Easter extras…

2. Lion’s Head Sunset Hike

If waking up early to exercise isn’t for you, lace up your shoes and hike Lion’s Head at sunset when the full moon displays its glory. The one- to two-hour hike is a local favourite and not too difficult. You’ll be in good company if you also pack a (healthy) picnic and lots of water. Just remember your safety: hike in groups, wear proper footwear, bring a torch for the dark way down and layers in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.

3. Running Clubs & Free Outdoor Gyms

There are plenty of student, intern and adult running clubs to join in any area of Cape Town, many operating from popular fitness hubs such as the 2.5-km Rondebosch Common jogging loop, Newlands Forest Contour Path or the fitness circuit at Green Point Park. And don’t forget the almost 50 free outdoor gyms rolled out by the folks from the City of Cape Town’s Parks Department. There’s one in Sea Point, another in Muizenberg and lots more in-between. Let your fingers do the Googling to find your closest outdoor gym.

4. Stroll the Sea Point Promenade

Sea Point Promenade is free and open to the public all year round. The best part? It’s accessible to everyone, from body builders to baby-toting mothers to senior citizens – and you can finish off your workout with an (inexpensive) swim at the Sea Point outdoor pool.

5. Gardens Skate Park

If you’ve got a skateboard or longboard and want to practice your tricks without worrying about fist-shaking neighbours, head to Cape Town’s skate park in Gardens (next to the MyCiti bus station under the Mill Street Bridge). It’s free and open to novice and experienced skaters during daylight hours.

Cape Town’s Om Revolution takes yoga outdoors

The Om Revolution aims to bring about a revolution towards peace and well-being through free yoga for all in the beautiful outdoor spaces of Cape Town.

Cape Town has many outdoor attractions, so it’s about time yoga was offered in the fresh air and sunshine: the Om Revolution’s low-cost (and regularly free) public classes at various locations allow anyone to give yoga a try. One option is to join them every Saturday at 09h00 at the Company’s Garden in the heart of Cape Town

(on Lawn R at entrance 9, near the Wale Street entrance to the Garden—keep an eye out for The Om Revolution signs). At the height of summer, Clifton beach on Sundays from around 18h00 is another option.

Austrian-born marketing consultant and seasoned yogi Victoria Csarmann initially came up with the idea of a mobile yoga studio as part of a business plan for her personal trainer. But when the trainer decided on a career change at the last minute, Victoria decided to take it on as her own project. “I realised that there was this huge gap in the market, not only in terms of fulfilling clients’ needs, but also for yoga instructors in Cape Town who are struggling to get work,” says Victoria.

Essentially, the venture takes the studio out of practising yoga and thereby eliminates some of the drawbacks associated with many yoga studios, like overbooked classes or instructors not giving adequate personal attention.

But they don’t just host classes in parks and on beaches. “With the Om Revolution, you decide when and where you want to have your lesson and you also have the option of deciding who you want to join you for the session,” says Csarmann.

Join the world’s biggest running event, every Saturday

Whether you are looking for a regular time trial in Cape Town or simply want to take part in a fun run with family and friends, parkrun — the biggest running event in the world — has you covered, says South African running legend and multiple Comrades Marathon winner Bruce Fordyce.

Serious South African runners do time trials in the build-up to races such as the Comrades Marathon to test how their fitness is going. When a South African called Paul Sinton-Hewitt emigrated to the United Kingdom, he discovered that they didn’t seem to have that concept there, so he started parkrun as a time trial for a few dedicated runners. It bore little resemblance to what it is now.

Paul — who was awarded a CBE by the Queen for his contribution to world health — and I are old mates, so once it started going well I brought it to South Africa. We started with one parkrun in Johannesburg, in Delta Park, in 2011 — and 26 people came along. Four years later, we have 69 parkruns around South Africa each week.

It’s the biggest running event in the world — 100 000 people around the world do parkrun every single Saturday. In South Africa, about 20 000 people run at 69 different venues around the country every Saturday. We put on an event that is bigger than the Comrades Marathon or the Two Oceans Marathon — and they do it once a year. We do it 52 times a year… and it’s free!

I think that the volunteer spirit is the most amazing part of parkrun. We thought it would never happen in South Africa where everyone wants to get paid, but people give up their time to come along and do the marshalling, timing and general jobs that need to be done at a parkrun for no payment whatsoever. There’s a massive volunteer spirit and most runners will, at some stage or another, give up a run and volunteer instead.

We will never charge a fee. That’s the magic of parkrun. Obviously, we are only able to do it for free because of the sponsors and the volunteers. It is about health and wellness, but it i’s also about community spirit and community development. People cannot wait to see each other on a Saturday morning.

In Cape Town we host parkruns in Green Point, Big Bay, Fish Hoek, at Rondebosch Common, Constantia Green Belt and in Stellenbosch. In 2016, we will introduce parkruns in Muizenberg, Khayelitsha, Century City and Paarl.

The only thing we ask people to do is register on the website. Once you’ve registered, you print a little barcode, which is your passport to do a parkrun anywhere in the world. You only have to register once. You can choose your home run, but that doesn’t mean that you have to run at your home run every Saturday. The passport gets scanned as you cross the finish line, and you get sent your results that afternoon or, worst case scenario, the next day. You accumulate parkruns and when you hit certain milestones — say 50 runs — you get a magnificent t-shirt.