By James Roche
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 2 of VARSITY News.
Many students use their free time before or after lectures productively in the gym, often spending thousands a month on transport, memberships and protein shakes. But not everyone uses the gym on their proverbial doorstep. The UCT gym is situated on lower campus outside Graça Machel Hall, just a short walk from the Tugwell stop. The gym is incredibly cheap in comparison to other gyms in the area with an annual rate of only R650, or R400 if you go during off-peak hours between 09:00 and 15:00.
Gyms normally justify their membership prices with their facilities and equipment and the UCT Gym is no different. The gym offers a pool to all its members, as well as a climbing wall and volleyball pit outside its main facility. The gym itself offers a wide range of equipment such as free weights, squat racks, and bicycle machines. There is a separate room for stretching, yoga and aerobics, and there is a downstairs storage area for your bags which is monitored 24/7. There is also a changing room with lockers, toilets and showers.
The downside to the cheap price is that the equipment isn’t always maintained and in the best condition. Often equipment won’t be returned to its rack, or the cables and handles on machines are broken making the machine unusable. You will often have to channel your inner McGuyver to fix the clips on the cable press to do pec flys or scavenge something to work as a bar for the lateral pulldown machine. In addition to this, due to the volume of students using the gym during peak hours, after 3pm, you may struggle finding the equipment you’re looking for. It becomes like the Hunger Games as you fight amongst one another to be the next person to use the machine.
In comparison, ZoneFitness’ club membership (only one specific location) is R225.00 per month with a joining fee of only R50. The nearest branch to campus would be on Rondebosch main road. The price is higher compared to UCT’s gym as there are better facilities where you can get access to a personal trainer, classes and more equipment. Virgin Active is slightly more expensive but if you have Discovery Vitality you can pay a once off fee of R799.00, and a gym tag fee of R120.00 (as long as you attend 36 times a year). If you achieve your monthly goals, you can get your monthly payments returned as a cashback reward. You can also get other perks through Virgin Active such as free smoothies from Kauai, or discounts on apparel.
But for pure value for money, the UCT gym is by far the best option. Even though the facilities are slightly limited in comparison to other gyms and some of the equipment isn’t in optimum condition; for potentially R400.00 a year it is probably the best investment any student can make as it is convenient and accessible. If you want to take your fitness seriously but aren’t prepared for the insane fees of Virgin Active or Zone Fitness, then the UCT gym is the place for you, especially if you’re on a budget then the off-peak membership is probably your best option.
You can join the UCT gym from the administration office in the sports centre on upper campus. The gym is open Monday to Friday between 06:00 and 21:00, 08:00 till 19:00 on the weekend and between 06:00 till 19:00 during vac.