Global Health Club franchise Virgin Active opened its doors to the local market this past weekend at Airport Junction mall in Gaborone.
The gym which is first of its kind in Botswana currently boasts about 124 health clubs in South Africa, two in Namibia and now Botswana, “South Africa is our biggest market but we believe we can replicate our success across the continent as long as we move with proper care and considerations for each specific market,” says Managing Director Ross Faragher-Thomas. Globally, Virgin Active operates more than 275 clubs in ten countries, with Nairobi-Kenya next to open in 2016.
When asked why they decided to set up shop in Botswana, Faragher-Thomas said the company had researched the Gaborone market carefully before building the gym, describing Botswana as, “the obvious choice for this first move given its stability, flourishing economy and prospering middle class.”
Officially opening the gym, Assistant Minister of Health Dr Alfred Madigele said the model of the health club was refreshing, “Though Virgin Active is by no means the only health and fitness establishment in Botswana, I am glad that Batswana have another friend in their journey to a healthier lifestyle. I am informed that the number of new members is a bit of a record; making it the highest number of new members ever registered for a new club.”
One of the challenges set by the ministry, according to Madigele, is to resolve the generally poor health lifestyle of Batswana, “While the Ministry of Health has a set plan of action and to address health challenges and re-shape Botswana’s health care system, we also need support at the ministry. Having a well- known and respected global brand come to Gaborone is a show of confidence in the local economy. I believe the new club has also been welcomed with open arms by Batswana.”
The Virgin Active Health Club facility boasts a swimming pool area, a café, free WIFI and working station, a play area for kids, spinning bikes, treadmill, weights, daily aerobic classes, modern day showers with hair dryers and straighteners for women.