Fun family ideas to bond over the holidays

5Beat cabin fever and plan some fun in the sun with the kids. Be adventurous. Because it’s summer. And we know that between work and school, it’s hard to find the time. So we’ve rounded up some tips to get you started.

Get active

The sun is shining. Get out there and get moving. A Sunday morning hike. A walk on the beach with the dogs. A bike ride. How about challenging the kids to a race? And for a more structured session, there’s loads for you and the kids to do at the club. Like group exercise classes: Move, Move Lite, Zumba, Groove, Twentyfour Family, Hip Hop and Just Dance. They can also use gym equipment like the indoor cycles, steppers, rowing machines, elliptical trainers (please check age restrictions for these). And let’s not forget the swimming pool. Little ones can learn to swim with qualified coaches at an additional cost or just have fun in the leisure pool. Don’t forget that adult supervision is required at all times.

Get crafty

Bust out the glitter, glue and crayons. The holidays are the perfect time to really get the creative juices flowing. Don’t stress, it doesn’t have to get complicated. Do simple things like making collages, painting pictures on paper plates, making festive decorations out of old stuff lying around the house, that kind of thing.

Grow a garden

From something small like planting flower seeds, to planting your own vegetables and fruit – like strawberries and cherry tomatoes. You can assign specific gardening duties, like watering and de-weeding, and really make this activity something fun that the whole family can get into.

Take your kids out on the town

Well, maybe just for a healthy, one-on-one breakfast or milkshakes and a movie. Whatever your preferences, just spend some time together out and about, exploring your city and reconnecting with each other.

When should your kids go to bed?

We all know that one of the biggest challenges for parents is sleep. A) You feel like you’re not getting enough, and B) you’re not sure if your kids are either.

Which isn’t ideal. Because sleep is so important for their developing brains and bodies. Not to mention your brain and body.

So we’ve put together a list of sleep recommendations and sorted them by age and hours of sleep needed. Obviously, these are just guidelines .

Newborns (up to three months) 14 to 17 hours

Infants (four to 11 months) 12 to 15 hours

Toddlers (one to two) 11 to 14 hours

Pre-schoolers (three to five) 10 to 13 hours

School-age (six to 13) 9 to 11 hours

Tweens and teens (14 to 17): 8 to 10 hours

Trouble getting your babes to sleep?

Be consistent. Have a routine. Tuck them in. Read their favourite book. Something comforting and familiar.

Club-V’s December Holiday Camp

4Know what’s just around the corner? Club-V’s December Holiday Camp. Yup. It’s packed with all kinds of fun, activities, games, arts and crafts. Here’s everything you need to know.


Bookings open: 7 December 2015. Just chat to your club for more info when signing up.

14 December – 18 December 2015 (Excl. 16 December)

Family Saturday: 19 December 2015


– 3 hours a day

– Children from 3 – 7 years

– Bookings at reception or at Club-V, on a first come, first served basis

Club-V Max

– 4 hours a day

– Children from 3 – 13 years

– Bookings at reception or at Club-V, on a first come, first served basis

It’s going to be a fun one, so make sure your kids don’t miss out!

A lifetime of physical activity and health

3by Prof Ross Tucker Exercise Physiologist & High Performance Sports Science Consultant

No parent in the world would turn down an offer for their child to be successful. This is also true when it comes to exercise and sport. “Success” can mean different things to different people. For example, “success” could mean playing sport professionally, representing the Springboks, being physically fit, completing half-marathons, or training regularly. One of the greatest inheritances we can leave children is a positive experience of sport and exercise, both now and in the future. And if they achieve their sporting aspirations, all the better. What parent, after all, does not want the best for their children?

The journey to that point, however, is fraught with challenges. As the cliché goes: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. All too often, our best efforts and desires steer children in exactly the wrong direction, and we reduce their chances of success.

So, the great paradox is that our desire to encourage participation and sport often becomes the foundation for a lifetime of inactivity and resentment towards sport. How badly we miss the mark, when children abandon sport, exercise and health because we push the wrong buttons too hard at the wrong time!

The challenge is to know what is best, and that requires evidence, not emotion. It needs us, as adults and well-meaning parents, to be incredibly secure within ourselves, so that we don’t fall into the trap of comparing our children to others, getting sucked into negative behaviour, and pushing those bad buttons as a result.

This series of articles is aimed at uncovering some of the secrets of long-term and short-term success. We’ll examine the pitfalls, the evidence for performance and health, and ultimately aim to arrive at a plan of action. After all, our present actions should be to ensure the best possible futures for those aspiring young sports stars. And, more importantly, foster a generation of physically active people who have healthy relationships with exercise and sport.

Two mindsets

The performance mindset

Children in sport can be understood with one of two mindsets. The first, and the reason for many of the negative outcomes, is a performance mindset, where everything is geared towards getting a head start, learning and developing the skills and attributes that will one day create the next Roger Federer or Bryan Habana.

It’s here that most parents stumble, albeit over their own good intentions, by creating the wrong incentives that quickly become destructive.

For instance, there is research showing that children who spend more time training before adolescence (the mid-teen years) are far more likely to become injured than those who delay these high training volumes, especially when they focus on only one sport. They also risk burnout, and are less likely to be physically active as adults than children who play many sports when younger, and who don’t train as many hours per week.

This is known as specialization, and it refers to the single focus that we often associate with success. Driven in part by Malcolm Gladwell and other popular writers who have promoted the idea of 10 000 hours of practice to achieve mastery, and inspired by the desire to imitate the examples of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Serena Williams, there is a perception that unless you start young, and focus on structured practice in one sport, you’ll always be behind your peers in the race to the top. How do you accumulate 10 000 hours by your 24th birthday, for instance, if you don’t practice for two hours, five days a week, from the age of 9?

Unfortunately, both those drivers are misplaced. Evidence shows that elite athletes don’t require 10 000 hours of specialised, deliberate practice, so chasing that target is futile. Sure, it’s great message to say that hard work is rewarded, but it’s not worth becoming pre-occupied with that number when a good deal of evidence points away from it.

Secondly, for every Tiger Woods or Serena Williams, there are probably a thousand (conservatively – I suspect it’s considerably more) adults who demonstrated great early potential and now don’t even look at golf clubs or tennis rackets. Theirs is a story that isn’t told in newspapers or on televisions, but they are the vast majority.

Thirdly, as mentioned, there is strong evidence of physical and mental ‘harm’ to children who train like professionals when they are young. The race to the top quickly turns into a race to the bottom, and the next thing you know, you have 9-year-olds who are planning career pathways in sport and training like adults.

That is simply not sustainable, and it’s the reason for such widespread failure. Because here is the great irony – even if you ignore the higher risk of injury and the likelihood of burnout and resentment, research tells us that children who specialise and train more before adolescence are also less likely to become elite sportspeople. Read that again: “Children who train more and specialise before adolescence are LESS likely to become elite sportspeople”.

How about that for a paradox? Our sports systems at schools, with their over-ambitious coaches and parents, drive children to start training younger and younger in the hope that this improves their chances of success, when in fact, it has the opposite effect! Research shows that the best athletes, as adults, are those who delay high volume training and who play a number of different sports.

In other words, this performance mindset, the cause of many problems, is not a performance mindset at all! It’s a myth. The best action we can take, as adults, is to encourage children to keep the structured training time shorter, and to explore as many sports as possible. That will lead, and this is the wonderful reality, to BOTH the best chance of performance and the greatest likelihood of exercise and health later in life! Two birds? Nailed them with one stone, which we can call the “Exploratory Mindset”.

The Exploratory Mindset

What we should be encouraging in children, for health and performance outcomes, is the wide exploration of as many activities as possible, for as long as possible. In the research field, this is called diversification, and it’s based on what experts call “sampling”. That is, let children sample every activity they can, and keep their options open for as long as possible.

Practically, this is difficult to do. I appreciate that. Our school systems are driving the other way, towards specialisation with their performance mindset. But you can push back, and try to create sampling opportunities for your child, simply by facilitating and enabling their interests. Even within the gym setting, this is possible. There are so many ways to put together a training programme, and children should not be constrained to one type of exercise or even one programme. Let them explore. Every piece of equipment, every method. Provided they are supervised correctly, and technically proficient, they are accumulating skills and experience that will one day bear fruits.

So for now, the conclusion is to explore, and resist the temptation to turn children into miniature professionals. In future articles in this series, we’ll delve into these concepts in a little more detail, so that you can understand exactly why this exploratory mindset trumps performance. It will help you to appreciate physical and biological development, psychology, skill learning, and how elite athletes are really made.

Gifts to keep kids active

2Finding the festive gifts for kids can be daunting. There’s so much out there. How about focussing your shopping on gifts that will get your children moving and playing outside? Fun gifts that will help them build their strength, stamina, self-esteem and social skills? We’ve got some ideas.

1. Bike

This one’s a classic. We all remember our first bike. And, on top of it being an exciting gift for kids, cycling is a brilliant way to get them to up their physical activity every day. Added bonus: it’s a fun thing for the whole family to do together.

2. Tennis racquet

Or any other piece of equipment that will inspire your kids to start up a sport. Tennis is a great option for girls and boys. As well as a good cardio workout, it can help build strength and mental alertness, killing two birds with one sport. You can also grab your own racquet and ace it with some bonding time.

3. Kit

Whether your kids are into rugby, soccer, or cricket, or just plain ol’ athletics, decking them out with all-new stuff can inspire them anew to get out there and own their sport. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive stuff. Just make it fun. Find bright colours.

4. Games

Games are always a winner in the gift department, so why don’t you choose ones that encourage activity instead of just sitting on the couch? Do some research on the best active games to get for your kids. Like Wii Dance (and hey, if your kids are old enough, they can take their new dancing skills to a Just Dance class at your club!)

5. Club-V membership

Club-V, our awesome fee-based kids only facility, will not only help keep your kids busy with activities while you train, it also let’s them up their athletic skills with programmes like Active Play.

If your children aren’t Club-V members yet, chat to a sales consultant or the Club-V co-ordinator at your club and complete the contract (there is a monthly fee).

Branson in Soweto for a RED letter day

Sir Richard Branson visited Soweto today to celebrate the success of our Virgin Active RED Jabulani gym.

Branson said he was “thrilled to be back and experience the infectious atmosphere and energy of the club, the staff and the members”.

Virgin Active RED Jabulani, which opened earlier this year on July 4, has gained a record-breaking number of members in three months, exceeding membership expectations by 100%.

The Virgin Active RED club format was introduced in 2014 and offers a further membership option across an already extensive portfolio that includes 112 Lifecentre clubs, seven RED clubs and three Classic Collection clubs in the premium sector. The RED club format provides a value fitness club experience at membership fees designed to attract a broad sector of the market with club facilities of an exceptionally high standard.

Branson, who last visited Soweto four years ago for the launch of the Virgin Active Health Club at Maponya Mall, said he was “thrilled to be back and to experience the infectious atmosphere and energy of the club, the staff and the members”.

The iconic businessman believes that the Jabulani gym is an example of the kind of bold and positive thinking which he encourages in all his enterprises; “the gym hits right at the heart of what fitness should be all about – having a great deal of fun while you’re getting fit. So it’s clear to see why it’s been such a success”.

Jabulani is one of seven RED gyms opened by Virgin Active across the country in the last 18 months and offers a full range of facilities, except for swimming pools and saunas. The concept is ‘gym made easy’ in an upbeat environment which includes a substantial Grid area for high intensity training, live DJ sessions and a Box studio.

Virgin Active SA managing director Ross Faragher-Thomas said RED gyms were proving massively popular and were designed to be more affordable and accessible; “Equipment is top notch, but we have a focus on quick, intense, straightforward routines and classes and we have created an environment that is deliberately brighter, bolder and louder than in our Lifecentre clubs”.

Virgin Active expects to see strong growth from the rollout of further RED gyms across South Africa with an opening pipeline in the medium term in the order of 10 to 15 clubs per year.

  • RED launched in South Africa in June 2014.
  • RED Price point ranges from R179 – R249 per month.
  • Range of RED gym facilities: The Grid, Box Studio, Ride Studio, virtual training zones, state of the art training equipment, Drop & Go lockers, internet stations, free Wi-Fi, clean, modern locker rooms and a live DJ.

Get what it takes to compete

Article 1 Image Option 2Ready to up your game? Now’s the time to do it. And with summer comes all the exciting sporting events, like the Standard Bank Ironman African Championship, Discovery World Triathlon, the Cape Town Cycle Tour, and Comrades. So to beat the end-of-year slump and to really show your body who’s boss, we want to challenge you to take part this summer and start training right now.

Kill two birds with one goal: you want those killer legs and you want to burn calories on the reg. Training for an event is the BEST way to do that. And we’re here to tell you: You can totally do it. You have our support all the way.  If you want to give it a shot next year, we’ve rounded up 5 of the top events to take part in.

Standard bank Ironman African Championship: 10 April 2016

If you’ve done the IRONMAN 70.3, this is a great one to aspire to next. Power through a 3.8km swim, 90km bike ride, and a 42.2 km run.

Cape Town Cycle Tour: 06 March 2016

This one’s for all our cycling enthusiasts. If you’ve been racking up the hours in our indoor cycling studio as well as on the road, you should definitely consider entering this epic race next year.

Discovery World Triathlon Cape Town: April 23-24 2016

Triathlons are often thought of as events only braved by the super-fit elite. Not anymore. If you’re craving a new challenge and extra motivation to reach your fitness goals, you should definitely take part.

Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon: 26 March 2016

One of the most important aspects of running a marathon: preparation. Whether you want to complete the Two Oceans half marathon or really want to prove your stamina and cross the finish line of the full marathon, you’ll want to start training as soon as possible.

Comrades Marathon: 29 May 2016

Every year, the Comrades Ultra Marathon is held in Natal. The 89km long run over a hilly route takes place between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. It’s a tough one, known as the nation’s premier road race. And you’ll definitely have to start prepping early. But it’s one super fun journey.

Do you have enough time to train?

Remember, preparation is the most important thing. This is why starting now is a really good idea. You have to give yourself enough time, taking into consideration that life happens. Things will come up. And you have to work around them. Injury, illness, important obligations. That kind of thing.

Get race ready at the club with these classes:

– The Grid: We need to learn how to move better before we can move stronger, faster, more. The Grid will show you how it’s done. Squat, lunge, bend, twist, push, and pull today.

– Ride: This class involves heavy resistance for the ideal strength training, while also utilising lighter resistance to increase aerobic capacity.

– Yoga: Relaxation techniques to relieve any physical and mental stress. It’s also a great strength workout.

Fuel your body: quick fixes for quick results

Nutrition Article Image novReal achievement is hard work. It’s dedication. Fun. Boring. And everything in between. The important thing is to just keep at it. Don’t sabotage all those hours at the club. And we’ve got quick, simple tips to help you. You’ve come this far. Let’s take it all the way.

Be adaptable

We’re all different. Food isn’t one-size-fits-all. Adapt your intake depending on your specific goals and your changing environment. If you’re increasing your duration and intensity of training, it makes sense that your calorie intake would increase too and vice versa. If you’re travelling and unable to go to the gym, cut down on the treat foods/snack items and portion sizes. The key is to listen to your body, assess your current situation and adapt your intake accordingly.

Stay hydrated 

There are loads of ways to make sure you’re keeping well hydrated before and after your sessions at the club. First and foremost, make sure you always have a bottle of water handy. Keep sipping throughout the day.

Your urine should be a pale yellow. If it’s not, drink more. Simple.

You can hydrate with food too. Things like lettuce, cucumber, celery, and other fruits and veggies have loads of water in them so make sure you snack on those whenever you can.

A great post-workout drink? In most cases, water suffices until the next meal. If however you’ve been exercising for in the region of 90 minutes or more and your next meal is hours away, a great post workout recovery drink is a smoothie (Tip: why not try a yum smoothie from KAUAI on your way out of the club).

Snacks. Yay or nay?

Snacks are a good source of nutrients, antioxidants, and energy and help keep your blood sugar levels constant, avoiding those nasty late morning and early evening cravings. Peanut butter and banana. Carrot sticks and hummus. Dried fruit and nuts (high in calories so only a handful, otherwise you’ll be sabotaging all the calories you’re about to burn). A small plain yoghurt and some fresh berries. A few cups of air-popped popcorn.

Aim for approximately 100- 200 calories per snack.

Avoid stress eating 

End-of-year usually means stress. Deadlines. Financial stuff. Making plans. And we all deal with these issues in different ways. Don’t let the rough times get the better of your health and fitness goals. You’ve worked hard for this all year. Now is the time to really push through. If you know you tend to binge when you’re emotional or stressed out, find other, fool-proof plans to make sure you steer clear of that slab of chocolate or that second helping at dinner.

It’s almost summer. You’ve got this. Beat stress with exercise, not food.