When the electronic-rap outfit The Constructus Corporation (Die Antwoord before they were Die Antwoord) put out their album The Ziggurat in 2002, it included some full-colour hand-drawn pictures of a robot working out. These exercises could be performed at any kid’s play park provided that there was a jungle gym.
This was my introduction to gym culture.
The band disbanded one year after the book’s release, but I still use those visuals as inspiration whenever I’m around a jungle gym, which is quite often since fathering some kids of my own and spending more time at the monkey-bars than at regular bars.
Today I work at the biggest men’s magazine in the country, Men’s Health, where I’ve stepped up my workout regime to include five pull-ups whenever I go to the kitchen at work. Two things that I’ve noticed is how many men want six-packs and how uncool franchise gyms are.
Fitness is big, no longer solely the domain of muscle-heads, and many would agree that health is more important than wealth. Riding on the crest of this trend are the independent and specialist gyms popping up all over the place. All are very expensive, and for what, they’re saving bucks to kick it old school and eschew nautilus machines for bodyweight type PT exercise?!
So what’s a guy with an aversion to globo-gyms, no bucks and middle-aged spread to do?
Enter the open-air gym. This all-weather exercise equipment is set up in a public place with better views than a hard-body in yoga-pants doing a downward dog, and no subscription fees necessary.
Got kids? No problem. They can join you in working out if they’re able to ride a bicycle without training wheels, and if not there’s plenty of kid-friendly fare alongside the grownup equipment.
Okay, but does it work? Well that all comes down to you. The creators have ensured that the equipment is hardy enough to hold its own against Black South Easters and sea-spray, engineering it out of durable rustproof material. They’ve also rubberized the floor and provided a water-fountain for hydration. Heck, they even planted some trees so that in ten years time you’ll be able to workout under some shade. It’s up to you to follow the instructions on the machines and then use your own bodyweight to lower your bodyweight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Push it hard enough and you’ll have a Men’s Health Cover Guy body in, oh, about 12 weeks.
Mornings and early evenings seem to be busiest but if you’re a student or living the holiday like every other Capetonian then go and join the OAPs from the nearby old-folks homes who use the equipment during the day. Kids love the stuff, too. And if their play burns off a couple of fast-food franchise kiddie meals, or offsets some of the hours spent in front of some sort of screen – great.
In a world of desert-pizzas and beer mugs weaved out of bacon and then filled with melted cheese, it comes as no surprise that we have a serious obesity problem. Good to see the City of Cape Town taking action.
Now the video is courtesy Cape Calisthenics, a group of guys who do amazing workouts in the outdoor gym at the Seapoint Promenade. The clincher? Anyone is free to join their group, which trains using their own body weight (calisthenics) in order to build strength, flexibility and endurance. Training times are between 17:00 and 19:00 during the week and varying times on the weekends which are announced beforehand on the Facebook page.