Home Features The Critical Hit guide to gym specials and memberships to help you get physical in 2019

The Critical Hit guide to gym specials and memberships to help you get physical in 2019

6 min read
Gym (2)

Christmas has come and gone, old year’s eve is but a memory and chances are anything but slim as you gaze towards your feet and wonder why your stomach is trying to hide them from your view. Yup, looks like it’s time to start the new year off right and get back into shape! It’s the oldest resolution in the book aside from jokes about 4K TVs, but that doesn’t mean that an effort to get physical isn’t worth pursuing.

Heck, you might be surprised at just what you can do, if you embark on a healthy drive to banish that excess malva pudding to a realm that it can’t return from. Starting an exercise regimen doesn’t even need to cost you anything at all, unless you live in Cape Town and are required by law to dress in active wear for anything but staying in shape. Active wear active wear.

As Craig still detailed, maybe going for a brief jog can help you shed weight. Heck, here’s a link back to the past (please don’t sue me, Nintendo) to that series of articles:

A lazy person’s guide to start running
A lazy person’s guide to finding the ideal running shoes
The Lazy Person’s Guide to healthy eating
A lazy person’s guide to running your first 10km – and enjoying it
A Lazy Person’s Guide to preparing for a marathon
A Lazy Person’s Guide to Running a Marathon
A Lazy Person’s Guide to… resting

Maybe running isn’t for you though, and that’s just fine. Plenty of other options exist, from boot camps to trampoline cities, although there’s nothing wrong with sticking to a tried and trusted method of staying active: Picking up a heavy object, putting it back down and repeating the process ad infinitum. In other words: Gym.

Old fashioned perhaps but never out of style, gym is always a great place to start anew on a mission to get into decent shape. These days, most gyms have a standard selection of equipment: Treadmills and spinning bicycles for the gym-goer who prefers to focus on cardio, while a free weights section and a circuit of machines exists for the fella who wants to build a gun show. So which gym is best for you?

That depends on what you’re looking for and prepared to pay for. You’re still going to have to deal with the bullshit of a “sign-up fee”, and there are horror stories out there of gym membership contracts which are about as unkillable as a Parktown prawn, so do your research before you find the one gym that suits your equipment needs, location and pocket.

For now, here’s a quick run down of what the biggest gym brands in South Africa are offering newcomers:

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Virgin Active

Some fine print that is definitely worth reading through due to how the memberships are split between limited access at a single location and go through tiers that end with full access to any club in the country, Virgin Active’s current offer for 2019 seems to be two months on the house and payments that only begin in March. More details here.

Viva Gym

The gym brand that I’m currently with, Viva Gym offers a simpler payment scheme: Either monthly or annually, with the usual bogus sign-up fee being around R149 as part of the 2019 specials. A 12 month membership will work out to R279 a month, whereas a flexible monthly subscription to the weights and cardio sections will set you back R349 a month. Both options include unlimited access. More details here.

Planet Fitness

With a current new year special of R199 a month for their Just Gym option, Planet Fitness seems to middle out at R299 a month, with extra benefits for people on various medical aid schemes. More details here.

Basically me

There’s more to the local fitness scene than just the three gyms listed above, so feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll add to the post. Here’s the catch though: Starting a membership is the easy part, but committing to it? That’s the real struggle. Your first day at a gym will presumably be followed by a day of pure agony as delayed onset soreness kicks in (the DOMS, which is what Geoff affectionately refers to me as…I hope).

That’s a good pain. That’s the kind of pain that wakes you up, and it starts to feel good after a while, believe me when I unzip my leather gimp mask and tell you this. It’s a wake-up call, but a reminder of there being no gain without pain. That’s the key part of the lesson here: You need to keep at it. You need to keep doing something, you need to keep pushing yourself.

When you hit that wall, you need to dig deep and push yourself that little bit further. Most times, that wall will be more mental than physical. Believe me guys, I know how hard it can be to be motivated to keep on gymming, to pick yourself up from a couch and slap on your comfiest slacks so that you can go get sweaty.

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You need to find your motivation, your drive that helps you commit and helps you dedicate yourself to doing something. It’s not about washboard abs or calf muscles that could level a skyscraper if you flex without care. It’s about moving, staying active and looking after your body. For me, my cosplay has been a major reason for me to stay active, as I was getting too massive for my batsuits at one point.

Heck, I fell into old habits a year ago and my weight had picked up again as I began nearing the 80KG mark. These days, I’m a more a reasonable 67KG give or take and having an hour or two to myself several days a week is my release valve that helps me stay mentally and physically healthy. I’m satisfied, my other lifestyle changes such as fewer carbs and sugar have had a fantastic domino effect and knowing that all my effort is going to help me outlive the majority of the bastards here sans Craig when he presumably outruns the grim reaper, makes me happy.

Listen, I didn’t say that my reasons and motivations were entirely altruistic, lay off me already. Anyway, there’s your primer for the new year. Find a method of exercise that works for you, stick to it and never stop pushing yourself. Be a little bit selfish, be a little bit more vain when you see progress and most importantly: Rack your damn weights when you guys are done with them.

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I’ll see some of you in the free weights section this year.

Last Updated: January 7, 2019


  1. I tried going to the gym, it was busy, I’ll try again in 2020


  2. HvR

    January 7, 2019 at 15:39

    My general gym experience was standing in line at the weight machines while Mr Ek-juice-nie psychs himself up for 5 min, pop half a dozen back zits, puts the machine on max setting, loads all the free weights, his back pack and 12.3kg of protein powder on the machine and proceeds to do 1 and 3/4 reps.

    Rather just buy some free weights and your basic cardio machine of choice for the same price as an annual gym membership and train at home.


    • The D

      January 7, 2019 at 15:44

      Hey, as long as you’re doing something buddy.


    • G8crasha

      January 8, 2019 at 10:21

      If you have space of course. Some of us, including myself, live in a block of flats, and I definitely do not have space. If I did, I would definitely get my own setup!


  3. HvR

    January 7, 2019 at 15:54

    Wanted to take offense on the active wear comment, but then remembered how what half the moms wear when picking up the kid at school.


  4. HvR

    January 7, 2019 at 15:54

    Heads up a Planet Fitness contract is harder to cancel than a Telkom phone line.


  5. Dresden

    January 7, 2019 at 16:04

    Is that screenshot from The ‘Bu?


  6. For the Emperor!

    January 7, 2019 at 16:33

    “Rack your damn weights when you guys are done with them” – I see Gautengers have a problem with this one!


    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      January 8, 2019 at 09:26

      Nah don’t unfairly malign our brothers from the North, see plenty of people all year round with this problem – including personal trainers who leave all the stuff lying around after finishing a session with their client.


      • For the Emperor!

        January 8, 2019 at 09:36

        Agree on the PT thing – saw that in George as well. But I am back in the North again so I can malign these not-racking non-indicator-using speeding idiots as much as I want 😛


    • Guz

      January 8, 2019 at 09:38

      reminds me of a sigh I saw, went something like this” if you’re not strong enough to rerack your weights , please feel free to ask the ladies in reception, they’d be more than happy to help you” xD


  7. For the Emperor!

    January 7, 2019 at 16:39

    @Darryn_Bonthuys:disqus 67KG? So beginning last year I was double of you!


    • The D

      January 7, 2019 at 16:58

      As long as you’re not triple of me right now 😀


      • For the Emperor!

        January 7, 2019 at 17:19

        Nope, more than 160 gym visits and many runs later, I am only 1.7 of you now 🙂


        • The D

          January 7, 2019 at 19:04

          Damn dude, well done! Keep at it buddy, I believe in you.


  8. Phaezen

    January 7, 2019 at 15:36

    – 10 points to Gryffindor for not photoshopping Darryn’s face onto the header.

    + 15 points to Gryffindor for not photoshopping Darryn’s face onto the header.


    • HvR

      January 7, 2019 at 15:44

      Look again at the bottom left of the picture


  9. Henk

    January 7, 2019 at 15:39

    My wife and I went back to crossfit this morning, after 6 months off due to work. A “Back to Basics” easy class. I hope I can walk normally tomorrow…


  10. For the Emperor!

    January 7, 2019 at 16:39

    Virgin Active has a “discount” for the Vitality signup at the moment. Also, they have Personal Trainer Starter Packs right now as well. Gonna grab me one of those as I hit a plateau with my routine and need to shake things up. Plus I like having strong ladies boss me around. Need to hit my 95KG mark this year!


  11. Guz

    January 8, 2019 at 09:43

    Ive been at it for about a 2 years now, best decision of made in a long time, I feel great, more energy, healthier than ever, I did go from 65 to 80 kgs thou but that’s cause I was skinny AF.

    Hardest part for me was actually the eating healthier, but that’s also changing over time as I learn to make food that is both healthy and lekker


  12. G8crasha

    January 8, 2019 at 10:23

    With a bit of research and some discipline, you can get uber fit with a few home exercises.


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