Gym for women of all ages, sizes

If peeving males and competitive young things are what's stopping you from regular gym classes, you might be in for a bit of luck.

If peeving males and competitive young things are what's stopping you from regular gym classes, you might be in for a bit of luck.

Shapes for Women gyms has changed and continues to change the lives of thousands of South African women and they can do the same for you. At these gyms you are never too old, unfit or overweight.

The average age of women here is 41 - with a range from 12 to 80. On average, some women have not exercised for more than 15 years before joining.

So what propelled the first black gym owner, Nombuso Radebe, to get involved?

"My mother Pumla, who is also my business partner, was very sick with bronchitis and pneumonia," Radebe says.

"The doctor advised her to join a gym to help speed up her recovery.

"Knowing how such ailments affected people her age, we took the idea a step further and opened our own gym when we heard about franchise. I thought, what better place to get a workout than at your own gym," Radebe says.

The gym in Centurion was launched last June.

This is an environment for normal women, not super models, prima donnas and sweaty males that make up the majority of people at mainstream gyms.

Heather Smith, 51, says: The gym is amazing. I always feel compelled to go despite my busy schedule.

"I've lost inches on my waist and that's all because the staff is so motivating and always spur me on when I'm tired."

The concept difference

Most gyms in South Africa target people aged 18 to 35. There is often a fair amount of one-upmanship and peer pressure at these gyms with the right physical appearance, clothing, and even accessories, becoming a near-obsession.

Shapes for Women on the other hand is ideal for women of all ages who want to work out without any of these pressures and without feeling as if they are constantly on display.

There are no airs and graces and no dress code. You are welcome as you are and as you feel comfortable.

There are also no men here, just women wanting to get the same thing out of their exercise programme, namely, a personal level of fitness and sense of well-being in a secure, relaxed, yet upbeat environment.

The time difference

The Shapes for Women workout takes just 30 minutes. To achieve noticeable improvements, three sessions a week are recommended although you can attend as often as you like.

That's 90 minutes of good aerobic and strength training a week and less time than one workout might take at some gyms.

The concept caters for the modern woman who doesn't have a lot of time.

The programme difference

Shapes for Women is a circuit-based routine. There are no classes so women can come and go as they please. Full assessments are conducted before women join the gym.

They also offer a free healthy eating plan and calorie counter. This practice of continuous support and assistance ensures that members' weight loss and wellness goals are more easily achieved.

The equipment difference

Shapes for Women's machines do not use weight stacks, but small hydraulic cylinders. These provide resistance in two directions allowing more muscle groups to be exercised.

The level of resistance is largely determined by how fast one moves the particular piece of equipment. This allows for people of different abilities, strengths and fitness levels to use the same equipment without major adjustments being necessary.

The cylinders also allow for easy manual adjustment of resistance - a simple turn of the resistance dial increases or decreases your resistance setting to a level with which you are comfortable. The hydraulic cylinders also minimise the risk of injury while exercising.