Having moved from South Africa, I took fitness for granted. Being on a student budget and having no car meant my food and walking sustained my very slim figure. Gym there wasn’t expensive at all either. Maybe an equivalent of $30 for 3 months access per facility or class. These were world class facilities at the gym…yet I had zero interest.
Fast forward, moving back to Zim meant I had more food and less walking, thus I needed a gym. It took me 3 years to find a gym and start my fitness.
Here are some tips on how to survive:
Lower Your Expectations
Okay get over yourself if you want a world class gym paying $100 membership, excluding the signup fee. That is $1200 a year. Subtract public holidays because in Zimbabwean gym culture, they close on Sundays and Public Holidays. In addition, the festive weeks (when you NEED to gym) from 22 December to 2 January, they are closed.
It’s best to lower expectations to a $35 to $40 gym in the CBD or The Avenues. A note for when signing up to these gyms, remember that:
- Water might be unavailable or cold.
- The sauna is there as a concept not for its function.
- Get used to the local gym creep in search of the newbie…retreat I repeat retreat!
Make use of Nature
So, what if your budget gym’s unreliablity in providing water is an issue? It might be worthwhile to take the time and find a community where outdoor training is free and useful. Harare Kopje, Borrowdale Racecourse, Malbereign Sherwood Hill and Vainona Running Club are some useful places to start. I know several people who use their neighbourhood for a good roadrun with a running app. In Zim, there is no PARK RUN culture. There really isn’t much of a fitness culture as compared to the long queues at fast food joints.
Find an Aerobathon or Zumbathon
In order to stay fit, it might be useful to find a large group to begin with. I started with October Breast Cancer events and Corporate Zumba. Find your crowd. My trainer was one of the hosts for an aerobathon. You get to know what you like and see if you vibe with the masses there.
Another important tip is – because the move back to Zim can be depressing – you can use fitness to cope with the stresses and new dynamics. Make it a point to not use junk food to fill that void. Stay fit and box the stresses away!
Robin Chaibva is an entrepreneur, online journalist, travel and fashion blogger. She also designs an African inspired clothing line under her travel blog HAMBA.