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The second outdoor gym has opened in Joburg, this time in Diepsloot. Excited residents greeted the opening, and were keen to learn how to use the equipment.

MMC Chris Vondo was the first to work out at the gymMMC Chris Vondo was the first to work out at the gymJEMINA Mangwe, a mother of two from Diepsloot, could not wait for the outdoor gym to open at her local park so that she could start working out.

Mangwe was one of the first residents to try out the newly opened gym at Diepsloot Park on 18 May. It is the second outdoor gym to be opened by City Parks, following hot on the heels of the facility opened at Petrus Molefe Eco Park in the Soweto suburb of Dlamini in February. That gym has proved very popular.

Joburg's portfolio head of community development, Chris Vondo, and City Parks officials descended on the township to hand over the facility to ecstatic residents. Mangwe, who was already sweating from using the cycling machine, said words could not explain how excited she was because she had always wanted to be a member of a gym but could not afford the membership fees.

She has been living in the township for the past nine years. "I want to reduce some fat and stay fit," she explained.

The equipment consists of exercise bikes, chest and back massagers, elliptical cross trainers, leg-press trainers, parallel bars and pull chairs. In his speech, Vondo urged people to take full responsibility for the outdoor gym and report anyone who aimed to vandalise council property.

Land invasion

Working out on the exercise bikeWorking out on the exercise bikeHe encouraged people to refrain from erecting shacks on any open space. "Let's not invade because if we do there will not be developments like these in our communities," he told them. "We are running out of space in our communities. Facilities like this are a need for our children to play peacefully."

Vondo assured residents that the City of Johannesburg was committed to redressing the imbalances of the past and wanted to build better communities. He also spoke about the significance of the day, saying Walter Sisulu would be 100 years on the day he if was still alive.

"This initiative would definitely have appealed to our icon of the liberation struggle," said Vondo.

Tim Hogins, who was introduced as the brain behind the idea, said the vision as his company, Green Outdoor Gyms, was to get all South Africans healthy. Speaking with concern about the rise in obesity in the country, he added: "Obesity is becoming a national pandemic and it contributes to diabetes. We want to reduce it because it a serious problem."

The facility would encourage healthy living. "This is the community's gym. Everyone is more than welcome to utilised the provisions."

Alfred Hlokwe, 44, was among the hundreds of excited people who witnessed the launch. Equally thrilled, he said this would be his first stop before going to work each morning as he liked starting the day fresh. He also said the facility would help youngsters to be healthy and stop running around the street committing crimes.

Community members present got the chance to learn some moves from Biggest Loser contestants, and gym ambassadors were on hand to show people how each machine was used.