Building community fitness bridges

Getfitnation co-founder Clyde van Graan.

A shared passion for sport, an enduring friendship and the wonders of the internet helped like-minded friends, located at opposite ends of the world, to establish the Getfitnation Facebook group, says founder, Colleen Cozett, formerly of Lentegeur.

The group, which was established in January, has gathered a loyal following and with Cozette’s bubbly personality, it didn’t take much effort to convince members to join in on its inauguaral walk from West End Primary School to Lentegeur mosque on AZ Berman Drive at the weekend. After months of virtual training sessions, the group was finally able to hit the street on Saturday morning.

A former physical education teacher at Hyacinth Primary School and at neigbouring Lentegeur High, Cozett, 49, has dedicated her life to studying sport and to examine the impact an active lifestyle has on the community.

Having grown up around the corner from the two schools which she attended and later taught at, young Cozett’s passion for sport was ignited at an early age.

A once promising sprinter, she earned her Western Province colours while at West End and Hyacinth primary schools and later at Lentegeur High.

Clyde van Graan, an old student buddy whom she bumped into at a UWC alumni reunion and later connected with via social media, became a member and later one of two other administrators on the group.

Van Graan, himself a once prolific athlete, grew up in Portland and Colorado Park, but has been studying and teaching abroad since 2004.

The former Mondale High matriculant, Mitchell’s Plain Cricket Club and Parkhurst Football Club member has been living in Oman since 2007 and is currently the head of Muscat International School.

Although worlds apart, Cozett and Van Graan shared a common goal: to stay active and to encourage others to follow suit.

The idea to establish a Facebook fitness group was really a no-brainer, with more people migrating to the digital space due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of course, nothing beats being out in the open, taking in fresh air and getting much-needed exercise, which was exactly the aim of Saturday’s walkabout, said Cozette.

“We are a group of like-minded individuals who want to lead a healthy lifestyle by encouraging and supporting communities to be active,” said Cozett.

“I started the group as a form of hope, to encourage others to be more physically active,” she said.

“We target local communities and specifically Mitchell’s Plain, because this is where I grew up, said Cozett, who is finishing her PhD in Sport Science.

“As a PT teacher, I wanted to broaden my horizons. I then studied sports science and did my Master’s in that.

“But I don’t want my studies to end, I want my studies to have purpose. That is why I’m coming back to my community, to spread the word that physical activity and your health is your wealth,” she said.

These sentiments were echoed by Van Graan, 50, who said that although the group was Cozett’s brainchild, they have the same vision.

Van Graan, who had picked up a few pounds since his glory days as a highly-rated Western Province and SA high jumper, said Cozett followed his own fitness journey since June last year and invited him to come on board as a co-founder of Getfitnation.

“The aim is to encourage members to embark on a journey to a healthy lifestyle which means physical, emotional and mental well-being,” he said.

“Anybody, regardless of fitness level is welcome to join. We have sessions for people who find it difficult to move, due to injury or some other condition,” he said.

For more information, call Collen Cozett on 084 325 0513 or visit the Getfitnation Facebook page.