News / South Africa / Health

Kgosi Modisane
2 minute read
17 Aug 2017
9:14 pm

Stay in and shape up!

Kgosi Modisane

Train indoors for outdoor activities.

Bicycle exercises. File photo

Navigating your way through a gym can be overwhelming, especially if you are still not sure of what your end result is going to be.

For some, preparation for any major endurance challenge, like the Sanlam Cape Town marathon which takes place every year in September, or any other distance event, biokineticist Richard Woolrich advises that outdoors on the road should not be the only place where you train.

Woolrich, who is also an award-winning personal trainer at Virgin Active, has five key reasons to use your health club to build towards optimal performance.


Research shows that strength work twice a week is highly beneficial for a runner – especially if you focus on the eccentric (or lengthening) phase to improve your ability to withstand the fatigue in the legs which is often felt on downhills.

One way to do this is to slow down the squat and really stretch the quadriceps. Another convenient way is to join a functional fitness class like the Grid, which is exclusive to Virgin Active gyms and gives you a high-intensity, six-move workout – push, pull, lunge, bend, twist and squat.

Each workout is designed to test your endurance levels, increase body strength and intensity intake, as well as tone and define your body.


As a runner, you’re always moving in a straight line, neglecting lateral movement and the muscles that stabilise you. So, include the glute and adductors, in particular, in every strength workout, even if only for a short period.

This will help teach your body to engage these muscles while you are running and thereby keep your form and technique for much longer. Pilates or yoga are really good ways to improve stabilisation, or simply adopt breathing techniques.


Swimming and cycling are great options to achieve good cardiovascular stimulus while allowing the legs to have a break from the impact of consecutive days of running.

This is especially important if you have any injury niggles. The low impact work keeps your fitness levels up while allowing for recovery before race day. Cardio workouts are also beneficial for weight loss and body conditioning.


The treadmill should be used to focus on speed work. High-intensity bouts punctuated by equally or slightly longer recovery times and then finish with some solid strength work on an increased gradient.

Sprint runs across the room are another way of increasing speed and endurance, timing each lap to track progress.


The dark and cold winter hours, bad weather, uneven road surfaces and inconsiderate drivers – these a r e all factors which can dissuade you from training or make it an unsafe and unpleasant experience. A health club is a safe and consistent option when you don’t feel like hitting the streets.

This element of security is especially important in the final weeks leading up to the race, when the last thing you want is a stumble on a loose piece of paving or to catch a cold.