Going to the gym at the City of Joburg’s Nokuphila Facility is therapy and lifestyle to grannies of Dobsonville, Soweto. Some 45 grannies regularly visit their local gym at least three to four times a week to stay in shape.
Many of them say they do not only enjoy the gym but it also helps to soothe many of their old-age illnesses and aches. The 70 year-old Bella Makhudu from Dobsonville Extension 3 – one of the oldest regular members says: “Since I started coming to the gym I can’t stop. In a case where I’m unable to attend I miss it a lot. I even made friends here. I have a heart problem and high blood pressure, but the exercises I do here have helped to reduce my high blood pressure.” Thanks to the exercises at the gym, now gogo Makhudu can walk a good 5km to and from Jabulani Mall without experiencing any pains.
Annie Bogatsu, 68-years old, says she has lost weight since she joined the gym in February.
“I have a hip arthritis and suffer from short breath, but since I have joined the gym I no longer have a short breath,” said Bogatsu.
Another granny, the 68-year-old Marble Koatale says coming to the gym is more than a healthy lifestyle but also about bringing grannies together to form friendships and encourage each other. The gym starts and closes first with a prayer. “My knees used to ache, but after the gym I feel much better and stronger. What I also like about coming to the gym is that we have many outings as pensioners. We sometimes go and visit other pensioners in other areas and enjoy ourselves.”
Recreation Officer at the facility, Grace Ouma Mguli says the gym sessions for the pensioners are increasing in their popularity and demand amongst the elderly.
“We have the gym sessions three times during the week, but because of its popularity and demand the pensioners now want it to be at least four times a week,” said Mguli.
She says the gym sessions are on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9am to 10am and almost every day new members are joining in. With the high tempo music in the background, the pensioners hit the floor, sweating and burning the fat away for an hour nonstop.
The other reason that makes the gym popular is that other departments such as health and social services are roped in to assist. That’s where they come in to do checkups on high blood pressure and bringing information about nutrition, grants, food and other social services.