Holidays that are good for you and your pocket


To make sure you don’t burnout (mental, physical and spiritual exhaustion), you have to take some time out. A holiday can be just what you need to recharge your batteries, and Discovery Vitality is making sure it’s not too hard on your pocket.

The most beautiful and exotic locations are right on your doorstep – and with VitalityTravel, it’s more affordable than ever to explore South Africa! So, what does Discovery Vitality have to offer?

Dreamy accommodation: from the serenity of a lodge, to the luxury of a hotel

The Vitality Hotel Collection is everything you’ve ever wanted in holiday accommodation. Not only can Vitality members afford to take the whole family on holiday, they can take their pick between over 500 hotels, bed and breakfasts, lodges and resorts. You choose your holiday vibe and Vitality will give you the accommodation you dreamed of – for up to 50% less. Your discounts are based on your Vitality status. When you pay with your DiscoveryCard, you can qualify for an additional discount of 15%! The higher your status, the more you’ll save.

View the available holiday accommodation in the Vitality Hotel Collection, here. The Holiday accommodation properties might change at any time, without prior notice. Bookings depend on availability and certain holiday accommodation properties are excluded.

To book accommodation in the new Vitality Hotel Collection, visit and log in as a Vitality member. Terms and conditions apply.

Not a Vitality member yet?

Did you know you can save up to 80% on your monthly gym fees by joining Vitality Discovery? All you have to do is call 0860 99 88 77 or download your application form and fax it to 011 539 2509.

Make fitness fun for your kids

kaosIf you’re looking for something new and exciting for your kids to get them off the couch and moving, then you should definitely check out our brand new group exercise programme for kids: Kaos

What is Kaos?
It’s an exciting new programme designed to help young exercise enthusiasts be more confident with their bodies: getting them stronger, fitter and faster.

Who can join?
The programme is split into two age groups – 8-10 years and 11 – 13 years. You’ll find it on the timetables!

What your kids will get out of it
Kaos is a sports conditioning programme that incorporates all aspects of fitness. We’re talking soccer fitness, rugby fitness, and everything in-between. It’ll get your kids fit for school sports and any other physical activities that they want to take part in. It’s all about improving your children’s athletic ability and encouraging them to get active so that they’re not just loitering on Facebook while you’re getting all the benefits a gym membership has to offer. Get them training like their heroes!

When and where
Classes are packed with fun, in a safe environment and supervised by fitness professionals. And because we want our junior members to experience our facility to the fullest, we have designed these classes to take place in any area of our gym, including: in our cool air-conditioned studio, or out on the gym floor with the equipment or outside in the sunshine. They’ll be offered during off-peak and peak hours so no matter what your schedule or your child’s, you can find a time that suits you best.

You’ll be able to check out class dates and times on your club’s timetable at Get your little ones to give it a bash, it’ll be awesome getting them hooked on fun, healthy exercise early on.

11 food facts you should know

foodfactsNowadays, we know what diet everyone is trying and we know what foods everyone is banishing and we have to constantly navigate our way through all of this info, but sometimes that info can be misleading. So we wanted to simplify some things for you by going back to the basics.

1. No two individuals are metabolically identical – it is unrealistic to expect the same nutrition strategy to work for everyone. This might be the most important thing to remember.
2. Weight loss will result when the calories you burn (through daily living and exercise) outweighs the food you eat.
3. Nutrition goals will only be met if the diet is sustainable long-term (in other words, it must be practical and relevant to the person following the diet).
4. Too much of a good thing can be bad. The optimal balance between carbs, fat and protein can vary significantly between individuals but not one of these should be consumed in excess at the forfeit of the other long-term. Balance, balance, balance.
5. Trans-fats (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) are always a no-go (they have been shown to significantly increase the risk of heart disease).
6. The majority of the fat you eat should be in the form of mono-unsaturated (think olive oil, canola oil, avocado and nuts) and poly-unsaturated fats (think omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood) that offer many cardio-protective benefits.
7. Too much salt is associated with an increased risk of hypertension, heart disease and some cancers in susceptible individuals.
8. Too much added sugar (found in processed and refined foods) is not healthy and can lead to increased risk of disease.
9. A diet high in fibre (from wholegrains, carbs, legumes, vegetables and fruit) is important for good health and a strong immune system (healthy gut = healthy immune system).
10. Balanced meals are important for controlling your blood sugar levels. The fibre, protein and fat in a meal will help reduce the rate at which ingested carbs enter your blood stream. The larger a meal and the more refined the carbohydrates, the greater the ‘glycaemic load’ and the greater the resultant spike in blood sugar levels, especially relevant in those individuals with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes.
11. Moderation is key – too much of anything can be bad – the secret is in finding a good balance.

It’s all about common sense and what works for you as an individual or family. Stick to the basics and you’ll end up with a sustainable plan that will help you and your family reach their health goals. Why complicate things?

Is sleep the key to better fitness?

sleep....Great nutrition and a balanced workout routine are two of the most important parts of reaching your health or fitness goal. But there’s one more component on that list: sleep. When we sleep, our immune and nervous systems are regenerated, and our bones and muscles repair. In other words, it gives our bodies a chance to recover from a tough workout and prepare for the next session.

The problem with too little sleep
Besides feeling exhausted all day, not getting enough sleep can cause you to become clumsier than usual (not good if you’re in a step class or lifting heavy weights!) and can also affect how your brain functions (not ideal at the office!)

It also affects your weight. Recent studies have found that sleep deprivation can slow glucose metabolism by as much as 30 to 40%, which is why long term sleep loss can increase your risk of diabetes and won’t help if your goal is to lose weight.

What’s your circadian rhythm?
Sleep timing is controlled by your circadian clock. It tells you when you should sleep, kind of like an inner timekeeping, temperature-fluctuating device that sets the rhythm. It’s this circadian rhythm that determines the ideal timing for sleep. So if you’re the kind of person who regularly goes to sleep early, you generally won’t be able to sleep much later than your normal waking time even if you’re really tired.

Your circadian rhythm can be altered by temperature and light, which is why a change in the seasons (winter to spring, for example) can impact on your sleep habits.

Your circadian rhythm
Approx. 21h00: Your brain receives messages from the optic nerves telling you that there’s less light, and so “orders” the release of melatonin – a hormone that helps to make you feel sleepy.
02h00 – 06h00: Your body goes into its deepest sleep; your body temp is at its lowest (blankets on!)
06h30 – 07h30: Your blood pressure begins to rise and melatonin secretion stops.
10h00: You’re in “high alert” (good for work productivity)
14h00 – 17h00: You’ve got your best co-ordination, fastest reaction time and greatest muscle strength at this time (good for sports competition)
**These are approx. times and functions and will differ for each person.

How much sleep should we be getting?
For an adult, 7-9 hours a night is recommended. Little ones (3-5 year olds) need as much as 12-15 hours’ sleep a day while adolescents need 9-10 hours on average per night. If you’re unable to function during the day, have a look at your sleep habits.

How can you improve sleep habits?
• Have a regular wake-up and bed time each day.
• Avoid coffee or other caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and other stimulants before bedtime (5 hrs.).
• Avoid high intensity exercise and large meals for 2 ½ hours before going to bed.
• Spend “quiet time” before going to sleep.
• Try making your room as quiet, dark and cool as possible.
• If you are not asleep in 30 minutes, get out of bed, why not try reading for a bit and going back to bed when you’re feeling drowsy?
• Do not nap within 1-3 hours of bed time. If you do nap during the day aim for 20-40 minutes around lunch time if you can.
• Focus on environmental factors like light, temperature and noise
o Cool is better than warm.
o Avoid noises, like doors banging or music blaring, that are the most disruptive.
o Lighting in the room, like a floor lamp or a desk lamp, and a very comfortable desk chair can remind you to work at their desk, not in your bed.
o Low light is best – melatonin is only released under these conditions.

So, all you night owls out there: if you want to make your gym sessions more manageable and worth your while (and your work day too!), try committing to an earlier bedtime and see the results! Why not start tracking your progress to see how sleep can affect your bottom (waist) line?

Easy ways to get more calcium

calcCalcium is an essential mineral that has many awesome health benefits, like improving the overall health of your bones and teeth. It can also play a role in improving your mood, so getting through your food is a good move! Here are some ways to make sure you get enough of it.

- Add a few tablespoons of plain yoghurt and milk to your breakfast or smoothie.
– Take a lead from the Greeks and have a small glass of plain yoghurt with honey and nuts as a dessert.
– Use plain yoghurt to make a creamy pesto sauce: heat pesto in a pan (add cooked chicken strips or baby tomatoes) and once hot, turn the heat down and add a few tablespoons of plain yoghurt.
– Vary your cheeses instead of always sticking to something like Gouda. Try harder cheese or white cheese, or if you don’t want to overdo it, choose a cheese with a stronger flavour so that you end up using less.
Cottage cheese mixed with sweet chilli sauce, mustard or finely diced peppadews makes for a delicious spread or dip.
Stir-fry spinach, kale or Swiss chard, or shred very finely and add to a salad or coleslaw, or simply add a handful into a stew, soup or smoothie.
– Some beans, like white beans, also contain calcium. Add to oven-baked vegetables, or a baked dish like lasagne, mix into a vegetable and couscous salad, or puree into spreads and dips.
Salmon is also a source of calcium so opt for the canned version which is easy to add to salads and pastas. Fresh salmon has less calcium, but you can also bake some in tinfoil with a little olive oil and pepper in the oven. Not a fan of salmon? Try cooking sardines and sliced red peppers in a baking tray as it’s another type of oily fish which contains calcium.
Raw almonds make for a quick and convenient snack so keep some of them handy. If you’re not a fan of whole almonds, go for the flaked or slivered varieties which can easily be mixed into couscous, salads, roast vegetables, smoothies or stir-fries.

Vitamin D helps to increase calcium absorption and you can get it from food as well as from spending some time in the sunshine. Include fish like sardines or mackerel in your diet, as well as fortified products and eggs.

Get your hands on one of these delicious calcium-containing Kauai products: Some freshly squeezed wheatgrass, or the much loved Peanut Butter Bomb or Strawberry Bomb that both have whey protein, or go with The Gem – a tasty smoothie with almonds, banana, honey, low fat milk and low fat frozen yoghurt perfect for any time of the day.

Written by Lesley Scott, Qualified Nutritionist. All Good Things blog

Best ways to burn calories

cheatWe know it’s important to fuel up the right way to get the most out of your session at the gym, and myvirginactive has customised meal plans and access to loads of recipes for you to try out. But we know when the craving speaks, sometimes you listen. In which case, give mycheatmate a go.

With mycheatmate you get to really see what you’re eating and how hard you may need to work (out) to keep off the kilos!

How does it work?
Each of us has a certain number of calories that our body needs to maintain a healthy weight. Some foods (even the small snacks) are so loaded with calories, that they’re best eaten very occasionally (especially if your goal is to lose weight). Exercise helps us burn excess calories, but remember: the amount of calories that you can burn during an exercise session depends on your weight as well as the duration and the intensity of your exercise session.

What to do
If you want to treat yourself over the weekend, but don’t want the splurge to mess with your weight and fitness goals, all you have to do is visit mycheatmate and update your weight, the food of your choice, what kind of workout you want to do, or for how long you’d like to do it, and mycheatmate will give you recommendations based on the information you’ve given us. Simple!

Here are five examples of cheat’s and what you’d need to do to beat them!

burgerhotchocpopcornraisinssushi*The above calorie amounts are based on a 70kg person.

It’s not all about balancing junk food with exercise. It’s about educating yourself on the energy content of food and how to burn it off. It’s also a great idea to learn how to read food labels properly, to see what you’re really eating. Visit myvirginactive, we have all the info you need in the Eat section.

Vegetable moussaka with a healthy twist

mouss(8 Servings)
2 tbsp. (30ml) olive oil
1 cup (250ml) chopped onion, cooked
1 cup (250ml) sliced mushrooms, cooked
1 cup (250ml) chopped baby marrows, cooked
410 g tin sugar beans, drained
1 tsp (5ml) ground cinnamon
½ tsp (2.5ml) dried oregano
½ cup (125ml) fresh parsley, chopped
2 seeded & chopped tomatoes, cooked
3 tbsp. (45ml) tomato paste
½ cup (125ml) red wine
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into slices
2 cups (500ml) fat-free milk
1 tbsp. (15ml) ‘lite’ soft margarine
3 tbsp. (45ml) flour
Pinch of nutmeg
½ tsp (2.5ml) white pepper
1 cup (250ml) ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup (250ml) seasoned breadcrumbs
90g (small matchbox size) mozzarella cheese

• Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat.
• Sauté onion 4 – 5 minutes until lightly browned. Stir in mushrooms and baby marrow and sauté for 2 minutes.
• Stir in sugar beans, cinnamon, oregano, parsley, tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine and salt and pepper to taste.
• Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside.
• Turn on the grill element. Arrange eggplant slices on an oiled grill rack. Grill for 3 – 4 minutes per side until browned. Set aside.

White sauce
• Heat milk and margarine in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat
• Mix the flour with a little water to a smooth paste (use a 500ml bowl or jug)
• Remove the hot milk from the heat and gradually add the milk to the flour & water paste, stirring after each addition until smooth. Pour the sauce back into the saucepan
• Return to heat and stir until the sauce is smooth and thickened
• Remove from heat, stir in seasonings and set aside to cool slightly
• Beat ricotta cheese in a bowl until creamy
• Gently fold ricotta into the white sauce
• Stir in the beaten eggs until thoroughly incorporated
• Preheat the oven to 150 C

To assemble
• Lightly grease a 23 x 33cm baking pan and sprinkle the bottom with 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
• Place a layer of eggplant in the pan
• Spread a layer of tomato mixture over the top
• Sprinkle with bread crumbs and grated Mozzarella cheese
• Repeat layering as long as ingredients last
• Pour ricotta sauce over the top and bake 1 hour or until the top is golden
• Transfer the moussaka to a wire rack and allow to cool 20 – 30 minutes before serving