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1st Floor Lona House
212 Upper Buitengracht
Bo Kaap, Cape Town, 8001

Jaime-Lee Gardner
072 171 1979

Louise Martin
073 335 4084

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Hey, Desk-chained mortgage slaves – this is for us!

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Hey, Desk-chained mortgage slaves – this is for us!

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Humans are strange creatures. Emotionally and mentally we are social beings, so we thrive in villages, towns and cities, but physically we have evolved to move – to run, jump, play, hunt, dig, throw and carry. 

We are not designed to sit behind a desk. And, as the population increases, the actual number – and the percentage – of people living in cities increases. The United Nations’ World Cities Report predicts that by 2050 over 70% of the world’s population will be living and working in cities. 

There was a time when we all – no matter how rich or privileged – had to do some level of physical work. Even the wealthy had to ride a horse to get from A to B, or drive a carriage – and that is surprisingly hard work. And they had sufficient leisure time for other pursuits, such as hunting or riding, because there were no computer games or video arcades, so it was only a very few people who became truly unfit. But that all changed with the development of cities.

Cities evolved out of villages to serve the needs of an elite few who – even though they had the means to escape to the countryside more often – had to adapt to city life along with the labouring masses. And then cities became the norm, and almost everyone started commuting by motorised transport – whether private or public. 

We started spending much more time sitting at a desk than we ever had before. In centuries past even scribes, who spent hours bent over their desks reproducing ancient manuscripts, were limited to working in the daylight hours. They also walked quite significant distances and had to do their fair share of fetching, carrying, sweeping and general physical busyness. But that’s all changed. Today’s desk-chained mortgage slaves rarely get a chance to move. We spend hours commuting – sitting – and then, when we have some leisure time, we watch movies or play games – sitting. It’s only when our smartwatches tickle our wrists that we get up from our desks or the couch and move – and usually, that’s just to get a snack.

So it’s hardly surprising that we started to succumb to a range of ‘lifestyle diseases’ which have led health professionals to proclaim ‘sitting is the new smoking’. That’s why there’s a gym on virtually every street corner – and gyms are great – but exercise really is more beneficial when taken outdoors in attractive surroundings with lots of green plants and perhaps even running water. It’s also a good opportunity to watch birds, admire the scenery and even stop to smell the flowers.

So as we start to reclaim our urban spaces, and to reassert our rights to a healthy environment, cities are changing. Pedestrianisation and cycle paths are just the beginning. Almost all areas of public open space are starting to sprout outdoor gyms, climbing walls and active outdoor play areas – integrated with existing natural areas like forests, rivers or wetlands. And this is just as true of residential estates as it is of the broader municipalities – perhaps even more so.

The installation and maintenance of outdoor gyms and play areas require detailed planning and professional project management so suppliers of outdoor (and indoor) gym equipment have started to offer full planning and installation services.

Gym Africa offers a custom-design service for outdoor and indoor gyms, from the layout of equipment within an existing facility to concept and full interior design and planning of a new venture, including associated spaces such as studios and changing rooms. Associated services include business planning, management and staff training, and ongoing maintenance and support

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