Founded in 1983, Run/Walk for Life is South Africa’s leading health and fitness company, with over 100 franchises located throughout the country, in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, as well as Zimbabwe.
Run/Walk for Life was born from an attempt to meet the needs of sedentary people, as well as to promote wellbeing through exercise. Despite the presence of numerous athletics clubs and gyms, catering for the needs of seasoned and already-fit athletes, the exercise needs of unfit, overweight and/or unhealthy people were not well catered for. Before one could join your local running club or enter the gym, you had to get fit and into shape! Run/Walk For Life was set up to cater for this huge group of people – those who are currently a little out of shape, want to get fit and shed a few kilograms, but feel uncomfortable or intimidated by joining their local gym or running club.
In 1983, Dr Ivan Cohen, a medical doctor, was invited to head a research programme into running. The project was initiated with a series of published articles to recruit interested parties. Applicants had to be male executives, aged between 30 and 40, and had to have been sedentary for at least five years. The research subjects would run three times a week at specified times at one locality.
The applicants led adverse lifestyles and were sedentary, obese, smokers and often had excessive alcohol intake and stress.
They had a number of apprehensions about and lack of knowledge of exercise in general and running, in particular: how to start, the required progression of distance, physical discomfort and boredom, self-consciousness about physique or style, concerns about spending recreational time away from their families, and fear of precipitating a variety of disorders. And so, Run/Walk For Life was born – a programme through which each and every person could set their own goals under highly skilled trainers, and set about achieving what they wanted to.
What has worked incredibly well is the constructive guidance to all members, many of whom have stayed with Run/Walk For Life long after achieving their first set of goals. Some have even tackled half marathons, marathons and the Comrades marathon, as their training, watched by our highly skilled staff, has been adjusted to accommodate their new levels of fitness.
2006 - present
Run/Walk For Life is owned by Matthew and Kim Grossett. Matthew was a provincial athlete based in KwaZulu-Natal for eight years, and held the provincial 400m hurdles record for three years. As often happens to first-time Run/Walk For Life members, he joined up and managed only two and a half kilometres in his first Run/Walk For Life session, but has since run two Comrades and various other marathons and ultra marathons. In addition, he finished in the top 50 of the toughest stage mountain biking event in the world, the Cape Epic. His work outside athletics has been varied, and since completing his Master’s degree at Wits, he lectured there, published articles and books and went on to become one of the directors of FCB South Africa, one of South Africa’s largest advertising groups, which handled brands like Vodacom, Toyota, Shoprite and FNB.
Kim has a BSc Physiotherapy degree from Wits and is a practicing physiotherapist. She has had her own successful practice for over 20 years, and specialises in exercise science, all aspects of sports injuries, and orthopaedic manipulative therapy.