Cape Town Cycle Tour History

It all began with a leisurely breakfast in 1977. The breakfastees – engineer Bill Mylrea and architect John Stegmann – can even remember what the breakfast cost: a princely R1. The subject was cycling, cycling safety for the small number of recreational cyclists who travelled the roads of the Western Cape, and mobility for the masses.

What Cape Town needed as it expanded apace, more than anything else, was a network of safe and efficient cycle paths that would keep riders safe and allow commuters to get to and from work swiftly and in one piece. After many years of submitting, pleading, begging and cajoling, these efforts were getting nowhere, mainly thanks to government’s lack of will, and partly because of lack of kickbacks. Not even a 3 000-signature petition could persuade the Department of Transport to just look into the possibilities. It became clear that the established cyclists needed to revolt. And so they did. Mylrea and Stegmann created The Big Ride In.

Held under the auspices of the newly formed Western Province Pedal Power Association (now called PPA) in 1977, it set out to demonstrate that, actually, a lot of people rode bikes. And so they did, with hundreds riding into the Cape Town CBD, to the City Hall, the Grand Parade, Adderley Street and the Foreshore. Included in their number was the mayor, John Tyers. And it was impressive, to all but the relevant authority, which still saw no future for bike paths. From this hugely unsuccessful success was born the Peninsula Marathon – a gruelling event that would, according to the experts at the WPPPA ‘require at least two months’ preparation’. They even went as far as recommending: ‘Unless you are able to spend R300–R500 on a super machine, your best bet is a ten-speed tourer (with drop handlebars, if you like) for around R100 new, or R50–R75 second-hand.’ The Peninsula Marathon never saw the light of day, as an event. In late 1978 legendary Cape Town mountain biker and potter Steve Shapiro harangued the marketing folk at The Argus (where he was working at the time) to get involved.

It was to be a mass-participation event open to all who wanted to enter. That second bit was important: this was a trying time for forward-thinking sports administrators, and actually for forward-thinking humans. From the outset, the organising committee wanted the Cycle Tour to be an official, sanctioned event, but no matter how much the Department of Sport loved the idea and wanted a part of it, their proviso that it only be open to white participants remained a stumbling block, to the degree that Mylrea was forced to write the department’s representative an extremely polite letter in the build-up to the event, telling him that this was a non-segregated event. This was brave stuff in the late 1970s, when BJ Vorster and PW Botha were ruling the roost. But the spirit of cycling, and its inclusivity, prevailed, and on 28 October 1978 over 500 cyclists left the start line outside the Castle in Strand Street.

The route we know and love today almost didn’t happen, on a number of levels. Initially, a number of options were looked at – northwards to Melkbos and back; out to Paarl for a 250–300km return trip; at one point it was even going to be a two-dayer – before the founding fathers settled on a start as close to the City Hall as they dared, before heading south along the newly built Blue Route freeway and on down to Simon’s Town. From there, the initial plan was to head into the Cape Point Nature Reserve, turn around at the farthest point, and for the riders to return whence they came.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, if the thought of 35,000 riders negotiating that narrow reserve road in two directions is too scary), the managers of the park, SANParks in today’s parlance, threw their toys out of the cot, and rather than kowtow to yet another quasi-government department, the organisers decided to bypass the entrance to the reserve and head through Misty Cliffs, over Slangkop and then Chapman’s Peak and Suikerbossie, before finishing at the lamp-post opposite what is now The Bay Hotel (it was called the Rotunda in 1978), where a pair of tables welcomed finishers.

The plan was to start with a bang – the SADF was persuaded to ‘fire’ a cannon from one of the Castle ramparts; in reality, they agreed to put a thunderflash in what looked like a cannon. At 07:00, precisely nothing happened, as those entrusted with our national safety failed completely to ignite the glorified firework, housed in a cannonesque steel pipe that was also packed with flour to simulate smoke. After some muttering, a second attempt was made, with disastrous effect as the entire contraption blew up. Thankfully nobody was hurt, and the first batch of riders – the non-registered – got under way.

From its infancy, the Cycle Tour set standards in world cycling, and world sport. This was to be the first time that the average Joes would race the same course at the same time as the officially sanctioned racing cyclists. The world and national governing bodies were, and still are, dead set against this happening, for any number of nonsensical reasons, but the organisers were determined to have a celebration of cycling for all cyclists, so the split-group arrangement was instituted to great effect. The event would separate the two well into the 1990s, and the federations are still, regularly, threating ‘their’ riders with dire consequences if they ride this unsanctioned monster, 41 years later. Thankfully, sense prevails each time, unmentionables are unknotted and the biggest timed bike race in the world marches on.




Whether you’re celebrating a life event or just want an excuse to feel like royalty, a high tea (or afternoon tea) is the perfect occasion to indulge in dainty pastries and a good pot of your favourite tea. Cape Town luckily has a great selection of high teas and of course, we would recommend you try them all. Here is our top ten to get you started.


Location, location, location… that’s the selling point at the Silo Hotel. Their incredible views over the V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain, and the harbour is unbeatable. To boot, they’re also located in the same grand building as the Zeitz MOCAA, which in itself is a must-visit. The snacks and teas are perfectly fitted to the iconic setting. You can start with a glass of bubbly on the roof and work your way down to the hotel, where you can enjoy delicious pastries and some of the best macarons in Cape Town. They have both an Afternoon Tea and a Royal Tea, with the latter including a wider selection of dainty treats.



Awe-inspiring views and some of the best scones you’ll ever have await you at the Twelve Apostles Hotel’s Tea by the Sea. The hotel’s unique location at the foot of the Table Mountain range, with a view stretching over the Atlantic to  the horizon makes it a truly unique experience. They also have a vegan high tea on offer and their high teas are served from 10 am till 2 pm.



Vista Bar and Lounge at The One and Only is the perfect setting for a tranquil afternoon of indulgence. Sip on your favourite teas and coffees while overlooking the Waterfront Marina area and spoil your taste buds with the delectable selection the Afternoon Tea has to offer. Whether you like sweet or savoury treats you’ll be feasting on the contents of the four-tiered stand for hours. Flavourful sandwiches, buttermilk scones, melt in your mouth eclairs, panacotta, cheesecake and so much more.



The elegant Pink Lady in the heart of town is always a spectacular idea. Experience old-school grandeur with their sweet treat buffet and a varied selection of teas at the Mount Nelson’s evening tea. They also have great South African treats on offer and it’s impossible to not feel glamorous in their sophisticated indoor space, on the patio or in the luscious green gardens. The cakes are highly recommended and in winter you can order a pot of hot chocolate that will warm you right up.


Mount Nelson High Tea


With their colourful and inspiring decor, the Stack is certainly one of the boldest places for a high tea in town. Located in an old converted mansion that has been refurbished to perfection, you can enjoy tea and treats on their balcony with a view or in their vibrant indoor area. Their offering is good value for money and their French Bistro-style food is exquisite. Handmade chocolate seals the deal and if you love good cocktails you might even want to stay on for some of those too.



Indulge in savoury treats such as roasted vegetable and goat’s cheese tarts, and grass-fed beef and peppadew sosaties, followed by an array of sweet delights including classic madagascan chocolate cake, a mélange of flavoured cupcakes and fresh fruit pavlovas – not to forget the traditional finger sandwiches. The high tea includes fine selection of fragrant teas and coffees – and you may want to add a celebratory glass of bubbly.



With a convenient location right next door to the V&A Waterfront, the Cape Grace gives you the feeling of being in a different place and time while Table Mountain is still in view. The hotel takes great care of its guests and your every need will be catered for. Enjoy a selection of tasty teas (from traditional to exotic to fruity) and feast on a multi-tiered tray of savoury treats (like scones, cucumber sandwiches, and salmon) as well as beautiful and dainty pastries. If you’re lucky you might even spot a seal frolicking in the water just outside your window.


High tea at the Cape Grace


The Garden Lounge at the Vineyard in Newlands has an afternoon tea that includes a selection of tasty cakes, pastries, and savoury bites inspired by local culture and flavours. Served between 3:30 pm and 5:30 pm daily, you’ll also have your pick of local botanical teas and their passionfruit cheesecake is what dreams are made of. The hotel is a historic spot, founded by Lady Anne as a country cottage here in 1799. Take advantage of the beautiful surroundings while you’re there and take a walk in the hotel’s historic, riverside gardens overlooking Table Mountain’s eastern slopes.



The Rhodes Memorial Restaurant wins the prize for the biggest scones with a view as well as the most family-friendly high tea location. Its setting at the foot of Devil’s Peak gives it some of the most spectacular views of the city and beyond. They also have Buchu tea and a delicious greek platter on the menu and they offer serious value for money.



Cape Town has some spectacular picnic spots where you can sit and have your very own high tea with a view. Pack your favourite local tea and stock up on treats, and head to Signal Hill, the beach, or a park for a special afternoon out.


The Mother City is paradise for people in love. Whether you want to get engaged in Cape Town, go on a great Valentines date, or enthrall your love with some of Cape Town’s most romantic activities, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 40 ways to knock it out of the park with one of these epic date ideas.


Cape Town has a lot to boast about when it comes to top spas and retreats. Treat yourself and your partner to a couple’s massage at any one of the amazing spas in Cape Town.



There isn’t a better view of the city than the one you get from the air, and your date will feel like a movie star. Soar over the majestic mountain ranges of the Cape Peninsula, across the glistening oceans, as you take in the bird’s eye view of the Mother City. City Helicopters is our recommended operator.


Take advantage of the miles of stunning coastline and pretty coastal scenery from aboard a luxury yacht for a sunset cruise to Clifton or Table Bay. Top if off with some bubbly and oysters as you and your partner soak it all in. Enjoy the tranquillity of the open water as the sun sets over one of the most incredible backdrops on the planet. In the heart of the V&A Waterfront, you’ll find the exclusive Classic Cape Charters, which offers sunset cruises and more.


If a sunset cruise is a little too mellow, go for a high-octane option, with a number of operators offering speedboat trips from the V&A Waterfront.


Movie dates are a classic, and you can take it to the next level with the Galileo Open Air Cinema. Shows sell out fast though, particularly on Valentine’s Day, so book quickly. This experience is weather-dependent and closes over the rainy months, so check the listings before making plans.

The Galileo Open Air Cinema


There are so many ways to see and experience Cape Town, but few are as exciting – or romantic – as riding in a hot-air balloon. Board a balloon at sunrise and float silently over the peaceful landscapes of the Cape Winelands for an hour. Enjoy the exquisite scenery and views of Table Mountain in the distance and check out the Winelands after.


Table Mountain is iconic, and a trip up the Aerial Cableway to watch the sun go down is trés romantic. Once at the top pop open some bubbly as you and your date take in the views of the most beautiful city in the world. Depending on what time of the year you go, you should have some time to soak in the vibes, before popping the cork (or question) as the sun sets.


Watch the waves roll onto one of the most beautiful and serene beaches in the city, astride a horse with your partner right beside you. It’s like something out of a movie. Sleepy Hollow Horse Riding has been operating in the Noordhoek Valley since 1975 and offers a wide range of riding activities. Take in a sunset over the Atlantic Ocean or feel the wind in your hair while cantering along the seashore—either way, you score big in the romance stakes.


Sometimes it is the simplest things that are most romantic. And where else in the world are you going to find such prime locations for watching the sun go down with a glass of bubbly or fine wine in hand? That’s right, nowhere. Your choices are also pretty much unlimited—check out our article on the best sundowner spots in Cape Town to help you choose.



Tickle your SO’s funny bone at the Cape Town Comedy Club, which showcases some of the best local talent.


Get those endorphins working overtime with a hike! It’s not just beneficial to your health, but the pay-off in a city like this is huge. There are many hiking routes in Cape Town no matter your skill level, and your date will appreciate the change of pace. Plus, an early start means you can still pack in more romance before the day is over.


Kalk Bay is a vibey hub with plenty to offer, but you haven’t lived until you’ve tried the pain au chocolat at Olympia Bakery.


Chart Farm in Wynberg – just 10 minutes out of the city centre – offers a farm-style retreat from the bright lights of the city. It is also the only place in the Peninsula that allows you to pick your own roses. What better way to say ‘I love you’ with a bunch of hand-picked roses? If you want to extend the time on the farm, grab breakfast at the Coffee Terrace and take in the views of the Constantia Valley.



Cape Town is a wine-lover’s paradise, with stunning estates in the Helderberg region, Constantia, and the Cape Winelands.

Constantia wine route


Nothing goes more hand-in-hand with romance than chocolate. Treat your sweetheart to a trip to the Lindt Chocolate Studio in Cape Town and up the sweetness by choosing a personally selected gourmet goodie-bag. The studio offers pick-and-mix facilities for all their elegant chocolate creations. There are also a variety of courses to enroll in to keep the chocolatey goodness flowing.


What is more dramatic than a secluded beach of glowing white sand surrounded by wilderness and an endless horizon of sapphire water? Diaz Beach in Cape Point is a landscape all to yourselves and its perfect for a stroll – or a stolen kiss.


The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are Cape Town’s claim to botanical fame and are both soothingly pretty and amazingly accessible. Wander the grounds hand in hand, pick a secluded spot for a picnic or grab a bite to eat at the restaurant – your date will appreciate your love of nature.


Signal Hill is a rite of passage for all young lovers in Cape Town. Pack a picnic basket and head for the hill to enjoy some seriously epic views.


There are some really fantastic pre-packed picnics in Cape Town. You just need to book, arrive, and focus on what’s important—your date.

Friend enjoying a picnic


At the Clay Café in Hout Bay, you can show off your arty streak by painting your own designs onto ceramics, like mugs and bowls. Take your matching mugs home and be reminded of your day over coffee every morning.


Pack a picnic and a fine bottle of wine, and treat your partner to Shakespeare in the Park at Maynardville. The annual run is a popular one, so make sure you book early and check the dates. It’s the perfect idea for a romantic evening out in the summer months.


Cape Town has loads of trails to run, but Pipe Track is a local favourite. The trail can be tough in sections, but it’s not too brutal. The steps at the top provide you with one of the best views of the city at sunrise.


There are few things better than feeling the wind in your hair as you cruise along the scenic Sea Point Promenade. Stop for ice-cream along the way, pack a picnic, or even try your hand at a round of putt-putt?



There are some spectacular scenic drives in Cape Town to ensure you make the most of your wheels for the day.


Sunset is surely the most romantic time of day, and the Sea Point Promenade is the perfect place to take a sunset stroll. Grab an ice cream en route, and watch the light turn golden as the sun goes down over the Atlantic Ocean.


The City Sightseeing Bus is one of the must-do activities in Cape Town as it offers a unique perspective on the city, while offering up some interesting insights into the various places on the route. Whichever route you choose, plan a romantic lunch stop along the way.

City sightseeing bus



Cape Point is a spectacular sight, covered in endemic fynbos and home to breathtaking bays, beaches, rolling green hills, and valleys. There is so much you can do here with your loved one—ride the funicular, grab a meal at the Two Oceans Restaurant, explore the shipwreck trail together, do one of the many hikes in the reserve, or pack a picnic and enjoy!


Food markets in Cape Town are a big thing. No matter what day of the week, you’ll find a market serving up some of the freshest, most delicious food Cape Town and its surrounding areas have to offer.

Oranjezicht City Farm Market flowers


Dinner and live music in the dungeon of St George’s Cathedral? Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, you can have just that at the Crypt Restaurant. The setting is romantic and intimate, so it’s the perfect place for those looking for romance.


A visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium is definitely an option for a great date! It’s a fun activity that will take you back to being a kid again.


There’s always something going on in Cape Town’s thespian scene. Take a look at what’s on in Cape Town’s theatres and go on the ultimate classic date: dinner and a show.


Star in your very own rom-com by taking your date on the Cape Wheel at the V&A Waterfront and take in the amazing views. It’s a quick ride, but it’s trés romantic! You can get something to eat at one of the many restaurants in the area afterwards.

tourist in Cape Wheel





The Green Mountain Trail is a 4-day, luxury slackpacking experience around the Green Mountain (Groendlandberg) in the Overberg region of the Western Cape.

The Trail Experience

Different to the traditional multi-day hiking trail setup of one day following on the next, the Green Mountain Trail is made up of selected day hikes which showcase the varied landscapes of the Overberg.


The immense biodiversity of this area is generally lost on the uninformed, but our lead guide, Jeff Groenewald, was a walking encyclopaedia when it came to fynbos and the rich history of the Overberg region – from getting down low to investigate little wax twiners, to knowing where to find ancient stone tools.



Ranging from plant species endemic to South Africa, to types of fynbos that only occur on certain parts of a specific mountain, we were continually enthralled by the complex magic that makes up this landscape.



The term “slackpacking” often conjures up ideas of gentle strolls that require little to no effort – not so with the Green Mountain Trail. It is a proper hike in the mountains with decent inclines and declines, rough terrain underfoot at times and all the mountaintop rewards that come with the effort of a good hike. Distances aren’t trivial either, with the longer days ranging from 18-23km. The main benefit is that you don’t have to carry a heavy backpack.


Two of the participants in our group have been hiking for most of their lives, but due to old injuries they are unable to have any loadbearing on their shoulders or backs – the Green Mountain Trail offers a proper multi-day, mountain hiking experience, in a pristine landscape without the burden of a heavy backpack. The guides carry coffee and snacks and all that’s left for the hikers to carry are a few warm layers, water and a light, packed lunch – luxury!


Speaking of layers, do not underestimate the weather conditions either. As this is a mountain hike, the varied and rapidly changing weather conditions of mountains are part of the package. We experienced everything from blue skies and balmy afternoons to strong, cold wind, clouds and low visibility.



Owing to the massive diversity of plant life in this area, it is also home to a wide variety of interesting and beautiful insects, birds, lizards, antelope and wild cats. Although we did not see any leopard or caracal, there was regular evidence of their presence on the trail, as well as klipspringer and duiker spoor. In addition to the lovely sugarbirds and sunbirds, we also spotted a pair of African harrier hawk gliding on the thermals, but the highlight must have been our encounter with the Cape dwarf chameleon – its stunning display of camouflage and methodical movement had us all mesmerized.




Written by: Arno van der Heever

While keeping fit and healthy is something we all aspire to, staying in shape can be tiresome, especially when it solely involves lifting weights or aimless treadmilling in a gym environment. Sometimes, what’s required to stay motivated is a workout routine that mixes things up a little, that injects a bit of fun and frivolity into the serious task of keeping the body beach-ready.

Fortunately for fitness enthusiasts (or even those just vaguely inclined to break a sweat in an interesting way), the Mother City claims its fair share of unconventional but enjoyable exercise forms bound to take the effort out of exertion. So, to help you find such original alternatives, what follows is an overview of various unusual ways to work out in Cape Town, from off-beat outdoor sports to those quirky activities more confined to structured studio sessions.

If you want to improve your mental health, physical prowess, and overall health and immune system, look no further. This workshop has been tried and tested across the world and has garnered impressive results. Led by Alex Vliege and Viktor van der Kleij, you’ll learn things such as breathing, yoga, meditation, and ice therapy. Bring down stress and anxiety, optimise your fitness, and give yourself a “northern lights” high with the Wim Hof Method.

Inner City Ideas Cartel | 113 Loop Street City Bowl |

At Functional Performance Lab, they provide supervised tailored workouts using their unconventional, but effective training methods to help you achieve your fitness goals. Unlike your average gym, they view the body as an integrated unit, where different parts of the body need to work together in order to function correctly. Their goal is not only to make you perform and look better, but to improve your health, make you feel better, move better and remain pain-free in the long run. Whether you’re a professional athlete, want to improve your fitness, or want to get rid of your daily niggles, you’ll be in good hands at Functional Performance Lab.

Portswood Square | V&A Waterfront | +27 (0)79 133 4703 |

Although yoga isn’t a new fitness trend, the concept of taking yoga outside the studio is a unique way to get a workout for your body and mind and enjoy the best scenery the Mother City has to offer. The Om Revolution is Cape Town’s first mobile yoga service and their mission is to make yoga more accessible to everyone. Yogis of all fitness levels – including newbies – are invited to join in the weekly 60-minute public yoga classes that run from late October to April every year during the week and on the weekend in mornings and afternoons.  All the more reason to kickstart your health in the new year! Classes are held in beautiful locations in and around Cape Town including the Company’s Garden, Century City, Clifton and Mouille Point. It’s a good idea to arrive 15 minutes early to sign in and pay, grab your spot and chill out before the class starts. Find out about more and read about The Om Revolution and their weekly schedule.

Various locations in Cape Town, +27 (81) 077 3183,  

Ditch the two-hour gym session for a 20-minute compact circuit using this groundbreaking fitness innovation. For the first time in Africa fitness geeks can push themselves harder than they’ve ever done before with this revolutionary AQ80 system. How it works: For R250 per 20-minute session, strap into a durable suit and receive, via radio frequency, low-to-medium pulses of electric currents, emitted to produce muscle contractions throughout your entire body, as you train. The flexible suits have a 5km range so you can go on a run, hike up a mountain, or do the downward-facing dog with ease and full mobility. Some of you gym bunnies and yogis might be sceptical about how effective a 20-minute session can really be. Well Candace Kentridge-Britton and her husband, Damien Britton, over at ElectroFitness would be happy to prove you wrong. A word to the wise; don’t plan any strenuous activities for the next day (possibly the day after that too) as you’ll definitely be feeling workout on your body. In a couple of weeks, however, you’ll notice the difference in your weight, posture, fitness level and recovery time.

Kayaking offers an excellent low-impact upper body workout. As Western Cape residents we are lucky to be smack in the middle of prime paddling territory. Whether you choose to raise your heart rate by conquering the fast-flowing rapids of the Berg and Breede rivers, or take it easy on the smooth, glassy surfaces of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, the on-the-water athletic activity will improve your cardiovascular health and strengthen a few of your body’s major muscles. As hinted at above, your arms, shoulders, and back will benefit most obviously, but kayaking also demands that you use your hips, legs and core to balance and direct the vessel, so you’ll also build some definition in your abdomen and lower body. Apart from the physical advantages, fitness and good form come with a few feel-good factors. For one, paddling provides an opportunity to see our region’s scenic surrounds from a whole new perspective, and it treats enthusiasts to some of life’s simple but most glorious pleasures, like watching the sun rise over the water and being super close to the exquisite marine life.  What’s even better is that nearly anyone can take up the sport as no experience is needed to start. Kayaking is a truly accessible activity – and the price of kayak rentals is genuinely affordable.


An especially calm, controlled and accessible fitness form, this ancient Chinese martial art employs a series of slow, precise movements that progress through a range of postures to improve energy flow, cultivate consciousness and concentration and foster a mind-body connection. While the various health benefits of Tai Chi are well documented – it has been found to clinically improve functioning in individuals suffering from a range of conditions, including hypertension, high cholesterol, rheumatism, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease – the relaxed technique also works to enhance overall strength, balance and agility and serves as a low-impact form of physical exercise. In this way, although the gentle practice – which can be done anywhere and at any time – is ideal for the elderly or ill, it is also a viable option for anyone of any age or predisposition seeking an effective health and fitness regime that doesn’t rely on excess physicality.
Tai Chi Studios in Cape Town: International Kim Loong Wushu Center, Jing-An: The Asian Wellness Experience.

Although often assumed to be a practice reserved only for macho men and violent ruffians, this high-energy combat sport – and the range of intense, high repetition routines it employs – is, in fact, a highly feasible and efficient exercise form for the regular layman or woman (regardless of age or background). While full-contact fights and sparring are optional at most clubs, training also focuses on simply using boxing applications, such as skipping, glove work and punching bags, to provide an effective full-body cardio workout and improve muscle strength, stamina, speed, flexibility, coordination and power. What’s more, this strategic sport also works to enhance concentration and reaction time, boost self-confidence and offer a powerful outlet for pent-up stress and frustration. This age-old practice is, therefore, perfect for those looking to lose weight, improve overall fitness and let off some steam, while also developing a challenging self-defence craft. Not to mention, as sessions are generally short and intensive, boxing is also especially ideal for urban professionals that are pressed for time.
Boxing Establishments in Cape Town: The Armoury Boxing Club, East City Boxing, Pound for Pound Boxing Gym, Brice’s Boxing Academy, Mustang Boxing Academy.

The brainchild of Indian physician Dr. Madan Kataria, this somewhat alternative exercise form – which relies on the belief that laughter truly is the best medicine – combines a series of spontaneous (often childlike) activities designed to encourage forced giggles and glee with deep breathing and meditation (the yoga components). A core philosophy underlying this seemingly odd group-based practice is that laughter, regardless of whether it’s real or fake, triggered by humour or not, affords a variety of mental, physiological and health benefits. That is, apart from its ability to lift moods and promote relaxation and positivity, a good laughing session also reduces stress levels, strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure and, importantly, stimulates the core area; in essence, it offers a powerful workout for both mind and body. While the slightly eccentric quality of laughter yoga may not appeal to everyone – and may make it feel somewhat more suitable for the inherently silly – its advantages as a fun, unconventional fitness form for adults are certainly far-reaching.
Laughter Yoga Studios in Cape Town: Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre, Ananda Sanga.

As challenging as it is exhilarating, this adrenaline-fuelled activity typically involves the use of ropes and harnesses to navigate routes up or across either steep natural rock structures or vertical manmade walls. Owing to its physically demanding nature (and the fact that it requires a good deal of stretching, hoisting and careful manoeuvring), rock climbing enhances flexibility and balance, increases muscles tone and strength in the arms, back and legs, burns calories and improves cardiovascular health. On a more psychological level, as the fitness practice depends on sustained focus, it also works to develop concentration and mental sharpness, and ultimately helps individuals become almost meditative, offering calming and stress relieving benefits. While there are various indoor venues dedicated to this daring sport, Cape Town and its diverse, mountainous terrain also boasts a large number of scenic outdoor options, making this activity a great alternative for those eager to exercise out in nature.
Rock Climbing Locations in Cape Town: HangTime Gym, Lakeside Pinnacle, Silvermine Nature Reserve, Table Mountain, Lions Head.

No, this playful art is not reserved only for little girls in pigtails; on the contrary, it’s successfully hooped in a sizeable number of very grown-up women –and men, for that matter – in Cape Town as a unique and entertaining way to tone and tighten up. More complex than it seems, when done properly, this rhythmic exercise form recruits a range of techniques, tricks, spins and swirls (hooping in both directions, while walking, while dancing to music, with hands up in the air, for example) and involves a variety of different body parts. The low-impact cardio workout it affords thus serves to build core strength, stimulate many small muscles in the lower back, arms, thighs and abs, activate joints, aid with weight loss and enhance body awareness. Not to mention, as it’s a creative and colourful activity, it also goes some way to lifting mood and improving self-esteem. In essence, hooping is about finding expression for our inner child while enhancing fitness and reaping a number of rewards. Perhaps one of its strongest drawcards, though, is that it’s a highly accessible and inexpensive exercise form and can be done almost anywhere – outdoors or indoors, alone at home while watching television or, more formally, within a large group class.
Hula Hooping Classes in Cape Town: Roundly Hoops (run workshops once a month), Arise and Hoop.

Started in America in the 1930s, this high-energy, fast-paced, female-dominated contact sport, which has become a popular activity worldwide, is now slowly taking hold on South African soil. In its typical form, roller derby sees two competitive teams of players (generally relatively alternative, saucy-looking women) scream around a flat circuit track on roller skates in an attempt to score points and block (through some pretty forceful tactics) the opposing squad from doing the same. Of course, as a high-speed, intensely physical sport, this all-girl game certainly spikes heart rates, burns fat, provides a feel-good rush and improves the general tone, strength and well-being of the whole body. And participants are generally so engrossed in play that such rewards are reaped without it even really feeling like exercise. While at this stage there is only one team in the Mother City Mayhem Cape Town league – a group that calls themselves the Cape Town Roller Girls – this is an athletic alternative that is just begging for further growth and involvement.
Note: Mother City Mayhem welcomes anyone to join their twice-weekly practices for a small monthly membership fee.

Although this particular pastime may carry a sultry, somewhat sordid stripper-type stigma, it is, in fact, being employed by a growing number of ordinary Capetonian women – even those from conservative backgrounds – as an enjoyable way to develop a supremely firm physique (indeed, the dance form has become so well recognised as a powerful exercise regime that an official Pole Fitness Association of South Africa has been established). The host of dynamic and demanding moves, spins, transitions and tricks that the athletic art involves – many of which require dancers to shift and hold their entire body weight – activate all muscle groups, particularly the core area, and enhance strength, balance and agility. What’s more, the type of workout it affords helps to develop a lean, toned figure as opposed to bulky muscle mass, which is preferable for most women. While not tasteless, the various twirls are inherently ‘sexy’, and therefore leave ladies feeling feminine and empowered; pole dancing is thus as instrumental in developing a healthy body as it is a healthy body image.
Pole Dancing Studios in Cape Town: Pole Dance Cape Town (a franchise of BodyMind Studios), Dance4Fitness.

This, elegant, tactical sword-fighting art, which serves as an outlet for all those with Peter Pan-type aspirations, has been around since medieval times and has garnered popularity as a practice that is accessible to individuals of all ages and predispositions. As thrusting and defending with bladed weapons requires both speed, strength and a good deal of strategy, fencing is deemed a psycho-physical sport in that it works to keep both the body and brain fit. On a physiological level, the calculated movements offer an intense well-balanced workout and improve coordination, balance and suppleness. Then, as the art forces fighters to solve numerous technical challenges on the spot, it also cultivates a level of mental sharpness similar to that required in chess. In this way, it offers a somewhat off-beat method of developing multiple important capacities. While some may be put off by the notion of sharp swords spinning through the air, unlike some other contact sports, fencing is, in fact, entirely safe and employs a number of protective measures to ensure this. Though this exercise alternative is suitable for anyone, its one-on-one nature may appeal more to those who prefer individual over team activities.
Fencing Establishments in Cape Town: The Cape Fencing Academy, Blues Fencing Club (for individuals over 20 years of age).

Though engaged in by most purely for its serious fun factor, this invigorating recreational sport, in fact, carries a whole host of real fitness benefits too. As it involves just as much (if not significantly more) paddling and treading water as it does actual standing board work, surfing serves as a powerful cardio workout and acts to strengthen and tone both upper and lower body regions, including back, shoulder, leg and abdominal muscles. Not to mention, as committed boardies typically spend hours at a time moving about to stay afloat and catch waves out in the big, unpredictable blue, the activity also works to improve general staying power and balance. But this sport goes some way to enhancing mental fitness too; most who’ve given it a try vouch for its unparalleled ability to uplift and energise, to reduce stress and to induce a calming, almost meditative state. As a low-resistance activity, it’s an appropriate exercise form for a broad range of ages and dispositions (not just for your classic surfer dudes), and as a truly addictive pastime, it makes staying in shape both easy and enjoyable.
Surfing Schools in Cape Town: Gary’s Surf School, Learn 2 Surf, Roxy Surf School, Stoked School of Surf.

While this particular group fitness form may sound a little too intense and intimidating to some, organisers tend to emphasise that boot camp – which typically takes the form of a short-term structured programme that draws on elements from military physical training– is a highly effective exercise alternative for anyone, regardless of shape, size, ability or fitness level. With a focus on working participants in a similar intensive way to that in which new recruits in the army might be (albeit in a far more accepting and less brutal manner), this fitness approach makes use of minimal equipment and incorporates both individual and team activities, such as short-distance running, obstacle course navigation, military-style drills, jumping jacks, lunges, press-ups, sit-ups and squats. Although the focus differs from camp to camp, many also incorporate personally-tailored nutritional advice and eating plans to supplement the physical exercises. The overall intention is to steadily improve strength, endurance, muscle tone (especially in the thighs, buttocks and abs), physique, self-confidence and general well-being, and to motivate and inspire trainees to work towards set goals and to push themselves a little further each session while still recognising and respecting reasonable limits.