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People are flocking to the outdoor gym at Petrus Molefe Eco Park, where regular morning aerobics classes are always full.

Young ones can also have a go at the training machinesYoung ones can also have a go at the training machinesTHE lush Petrus Molefe Eco Park and Outdoor Gym in the Soweto suburb of Dlamini is oversubscribed – less than two months after its launch.

Justice Tyolo, a security guard at the park and a fitness instructor, says people have responded to the gym in a common impulse and late evenings are usually pandemonium. "A lot of people use the gym frequently. There's a stampede here when they do aerobics," he explains.

The ecological park was opened to much pomp and fanfare in mid-February. It was named in commemoration of the former Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) soldier, Petrus Molefe, believed to be the first MK soldier to die during the struggle for freedom and democracy.

A colourful maze-like walkway and running track cut across the gym and park. The aesthetics are accentuated by rocks. The facility is fully furnished with 10 sets of weather-proof training equipment, mounted in the ground in concrete.

It caters for stomach exercises, toning hips, leg muscles, stretching, biceps and triceps and body building. Taking up some 700m2, the outdoor gym was built by City Parks in partnership with Green Outdoor Gyms, at a cost to the City of R260 000.

Training

Tyolo says frequent users have organised a training regimen, to which they stick devotedly. Each morning from 6am a fitness instructor conducts aerobics until 7am. From then on until The same group then does cardio exercises on the machines until 8am.

Regular users have organised training regimensRegular users have organised training regimensHe says the group leaves at 8am, making space for Jozi FM DJ Mashobane to conduct his class until 9.30. "They use the same format in the evening as well, flocking here soon after work," says Tyolo.

From about 10am, unemployed locals, students and others start streaming in to use the facility. This pattern is followed every week.

Tyolo says the gym is free to use 24/7 and some prefer to train late into the night. "As security, we swap shifts and are here 24/7. That's how we monitor the gym and the equipment and help people exercise," he explains.

The gym is very popular and is used mainly by people from Zola, Emdeni, Diepkloof, White City/Jabavu, Protea Glen, Pimville, Orlando and Klipspruit.

"People don't stop flocking to the park because they hear about it mostly in the media. Others are attracted by the machines when they drive or walk past so they stop and try them out.

Exercise machine

"The gym is oversubscribed and very busy; the available space is not enough to accommodate the crowds. It is necessary to have more machines, that's why we are keeping a register so that the owner can extend the gym."

The gym is an excellent training ground for body buildersThe gym is an excellent training ground for body buildersTyolo says even elderly people use the gym for physiotherapy, and there are already a few success stories. A local football team also uses the facility regularly; in fact, anyone over the age of 16 is allowed to use the machines.

Smangele Mbele walks from White City, some 15 kilometres from Dlamini, to exercise. She aims to shed some bulge in her body and is one of the afternoon regulars. "So far so good. My focus is to be fit and healthy," she says.

Body builders haven't shown an interest in the outdoor gym yet, says Tyolo, but most elderly users are those who have been instructed by their doctors to exercise. "We have regular users and a few taking chancers but those who usually try them out never stop coming."

Golebamang Mdleleni from Zone 6 in Pimville, Nompuwko Ndlazulwana of Protea South and Maud Bafetane of Protea Glen Extension 3 have organised a lift club three times a week to train at the park.

Claudia Matuludi lives in the same neighbourhood as the gym and says she weighed 113 kilos before starting at the gym. She now she weighs 104 kilos.

"The gym helped me lose weight after giving birth a few months ago. It is nice and free," she says, adding that her goal is to wear a size 40.

Source: Joburg.org.za