Johannesburg’s first Kids Gym, exclusive to children from the ages of 18 months to 15 years old, opens its doors today.

The idea came to founder and co-owner Glenn Joselowitz when, as a Springbok gymnastics coach, he saw there was a need for general exercise and physical education outside of sport. He noticed there was no comparative equivalent to quality adult gyms available for children.

He sat on the idea till his daughter, Emily, was born in 2010. Because she has a rare neuromuscular condition that limits her mobility, he started to take her to gym to work on her movement and flexibility. He quickly saw her confidence growing and physical wellbeing improve, so he revisited his concept of a kids gym.

The Cape Town branch opened over 18 months ago, Joselowitz says. There are about a thousand children coming through per month, a mixture of those who have memberships, or come in for parties or as walk-ins.


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Get moving to fight obesity

Joselowitz says the World Health Organisation recommends children exercise 60 minutes a day. “By playing alone, they are not developing their full body, for example, they lack in upper body strength and spatial awareness.”

The kids’ gym, he says, provides a fun, stimulating environment where they are working on  strengthening their entire body via different programmes. This sort of activity could also assist in reducing levels of obesity in children.

A study has found that South African children are getting obese quicker than children in the US. Conducted by scientists from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Wits University, as well as researchers from Denmark and England, the results show that “South Africa is undergoing rapid socioeconomic and demographic changes that have triggered a rapid nutrition transition”.

They found that between 2008-2015 obesity rate among local children doubled. In contrast, the obesity rate among American children doubled over 13 years – more than twice as slow as the South African rate.

READ: SA trumps USA when it comes to childhood obesity

Research and staff

Joselowitz says he did a tremendous amount of research to get the right gym equipment for children. “To find an offering that is equivalent to an adult quality machine is not easy,” he says. “I have connections overseas who looked at and tested machines.”

The Kids Gym in Johannesburg received over 200 applications from trainers, but 20 were selected. They all have sports backgrounds and experience in working with children and at least four staff members have first aid training. Joselowitz says he uses an external company to do the criminal and police vetting.

He also wants trainers to be good mentors because “we build up children from the inside out, and also take care of them emotionally”.

To enable greater access to the Kids Gym, Joselowitz’s non-profit organisation, Physical Literacy for Children (PLC) has 150 children in the programme. It is to “give needy children in society access to the same facilities and professionalism as that of a paying member”.


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