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Top 10 Budget-Friendly Exercises in Cape Town

by Annique Bolliger

The time for excuses is over. Just because you can’t afford a personal trainer doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of ways to exercise on a student-friendly budget, or even for free. Annique offers some tips on how and where to keep fit and healthy as a student.

I have always loved and needed exercise. And though it has always been a priority for me, I understand that sometimes it’s just more tempting to stay in bed, or to get endorphins from other sources, like that handsome jar of almond butter…

It can also be a struggle, at times, to afford certain forms of exercise such as personal training, the gym, or studio-based exercising. But we all know that tight budgets can be a quick excuse to take the easy way out. Here are some pointers on how to keep fit and exercise for free, or with student-friendly price options in and around Cape Town.

1. The Sea Point Promenade

sea point promenade

Exercise in the fresh air at Sea Point promenade.

Completely free of charge, the Sea Point Promenade spans across on an 11km long ocean boulevard and invites you to all kinds of exercises. Whether you are into brisk walking, running, skipping, or roller-skating – there you can do it all. The Promenade even features an outdoor gym, for crying out loud! It’s beautiful, and when you’re hot and sweaty, the ocean breeze is so refreshing.

2. Hiking up Lion’s Head

top 10 student budget friendly exercises

The Mother City has some awesome hikes. With Devil’s Peak, Table Mountain, and Lion’s Head standing tall and proud, why not get up a bit earlier on a Sunday morning and hike up to watch the sunrise? One of the most popular hikes is the one up Lion’s Head. For fitties, it will take you around 40mins to reach the top. If you want to take it easy, give yourself a good hour. All you need is a bottle of water, some snacks, and a camera – those views are incredible.

3. Yoga

yoga photo

Yoga at the University of Cape Town. Credit: Art of Living Foundation

Cape Town is chock-n-block full of yoga studios and teachers, so if this is your thing, you will definitely find an affordable option. Here are some suggestions:

The Yoga For Life

  • Free yoga! Every Tuesday at 18h30 inside the Cape Quarter Square venue on Somerset Road (bring your own mat if you have one)
  • Contact number 021-418-2884

The Art of Living Foundation

  • Annual society membership of R490, which includes all their yoga classes (twice a week), as well as the Art of Living Happiness Program
  • Classes take place at the University of Cape Town, in Rondebosch
  • Contact Caroline on +27 84 400 5424

The Yoga Zone in Strand Street and Hot Dog Yoga in Sea Point

  • Specials for SA full-time students at R500 per month for unlimited classes (about R40-60 per class)
  • Have a look at their websites for types of yoga on offer
  • Contact numbers:  Yogazone on  021 421 8136  and  Hot Dog Yoga on 021 4394888

If you have a gym membership, see if your gym has yoga classes – if yes, you can do yoga there at no additional cost.

4. Discounted Gym Memberships


Working out isn’t easy, but it definitely makes you feel good!

Before even looking at big commercial gyms, see if your university or tertiary institution has its own gym. The prices there can be incredibly cheap. At UCT, for example, students pay a once-off fee of R500 for a full 12-month membership!

Many commercial gyms offer discounted rates to students. The best is to contact a gym close to where you stay and enquire about their student deals and full price ranges. Some gyms that have student discounts or low rates are:

Planet Fitness

  • student deal: 1-year contract at R199 p/m for the first 6 months, and R299 p/m for the rest
  • R100 to join

Zone Fitness

  • student deal: 1-year contract, R200 p/m
  •  R50 to join

Dynamix Health & Fitness on Strand Street

  • 1-year contract at R179 per month
  • no joining fee

Also, check if you (or your family) are with a medical aid company that is affiliated with a gym. With Discovery, for example, you can get a discounted membership at Virgin Active.

5. Meet Ups

meet up photo

Exercise is easier with support.

There are various groups that meet up to do fun activities together, like going on hikes or cycling. Have a look at Meet Up and browse for an activity that you will like. It’s also a great way to meet new people from all walks of life.

6. Swimming

sea point pool

Sea Point pool dazzled by the sun rising

The Sea Point Pool is a beautiful venue to go for a water workout. If you are a swimmer by heart, and have the discipline to train and workout by yourself, give these blue basins a go (perhaps not in winter, though…). The pools are open all day and the entry is only R20 for adults. For location information: https://www.sa-venues.com/things-to-do/westerncape/sea-point-pool/

7. Boxing at Mindset Fitness


Boxing to relieve stress. Credit: Mindset Fitness

If you love and are serious about boxing and want personalised training that really pushes you, Mindset Fitness in Sea Point is the place to be. Go for your free trial class, and then buy a package of R700 p/m for 2 classes per week, or R900 p/m for 3 classes per week. This might sound like a lot, but keep in mind that you are getting between 8 to12 hectic workout group sessions per month (at a gym you can pay around R500 for one personal training session alone and end up getting less of a workout out of it…)!

Contact Dallas on +27 83 872 9166

8. Poledance Fitness (and other Arial Arts)

top 10 student budget friendly exercises

If you just thought “stripping?” – you have some catching up to do. Poledance fitness is one of the best ways to get and stay in shape while having fun and embracing a form of dance that celebrates strength and artistic expression. And yes, it can make you feel sexy too! Check out:

The Pole Project on Roeland Street

  • Free trial class!
  • Best deal: 3-month contract for 3 classes per week at R660 p/m (R55 per class)
  • TPP also offers other Arial Arts like Silks and Lyra, as well as various workshops like Acro Yoga

The Scarlit Box on Cnr Cavendish/Warwick Street

  • R40 trial class
  • Best deal: 12-month contract for 3 classes per week at R590 p/m (R49 per class)

Poledance Cape Town on Loop Street

  • R120 intro class
  • Best deal: 12-month contract for 3 classes per week at R470 p/m (R39 per class)

9. Capoeira

Capoeira lightens the soul. Credit: Abada Capoeira

Capoeira lightens the soul. Credit: Abada Capoeira

Into martial arts, cultures, and African history? There are plenty of Asian and Oriental martial arts in Cape Town, from Karate to Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai. Why not try something different – like the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira. Explore this incredible art form at one of the many Abadá Capoeira locations in Cape Town.  They have a super monthly option of R400 for unlimited classes.

10. Home Exercising

home exercise

Stay on top of your game at home.

Okay, so if you are really struggling to pay for exercise, your petrol is running low, and you are stuck at home… that is still kind of… not an excuse. If you search the web, you will find an abundance of exercise ideas to do at home, for both cardio and strength training. You don’t actually need any fancy equipment or a single Cent to get fit. Your body weight and mental endurance are pretty much what’s key.

Final Tip

Getting fit sucks at first, but once you’re there, you’ll feel on top of the world. Try to find an exercise form that you really enjoy, and that might even make you forget that you are working out. And if that ends up costing you a little, I reckon it’s a worthwhile investment.

EduConnect 2cents

Mental and physical health go hand in hand, and have a major effect on your overall performance at university. If you are keen to start an exercise form, but you can’t quite afford it, see if your schedule allows you to get a part-time student job. A few days of part-time work can end up covering a whole month’s sports and hobbies expenses.

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