From A Humble Beginning
In 1978, Ria Maritz heard of Jean, a woman from England, giving fitness classes in Boston, Cape Town, and joined her classes. Here, Ria learnt of Trimgim and met the Western Cape Representative, Melany Wiles, who gave her, her first two programs to start with.
With a little nudge from Mrs. Wiles, Ria started her own classes in her hometown, Parow Valley.
At a much younger age then, with guts and excitement Ria asked someone to create advertisements and very soon these were posted up at local library and churches.
On the Monday of 1 September 1980, Ria started her very first Trimgim class for women in the M C Fick Hall in Parow Valley.
She joined the SA Trimgim Association and received instruction and training from Mrs. Wiles. In a very short period the class outgrew the hall and she moved into the National Party Community Hall. This soon was too small and the club relocated to the church hall of the Parow Valley East Dutch Reformed Church.
Very soon the classes were doubled up with two consecutive sessions in the mornings. Commuting with her black thick-wheel Raleigh ladies bicycle with portable radio on the rear carrier, she had to start an evening class as well.
Word-of-mouth paid off and in March 1984, Ria was approached by the Parow Senior Centre to facilitate a class for residents after the instructor they had, just packed up and left everything.
In March of 1984, the first Senior Classes was officially opened.
The same year, the club was invited to participate in the National Gymnaestrada in Johannesburg.
Ria soon realised the need is greater than expected and approached Mrs Bertha Burger, one of her members, to become her assistant allowing the club to open a second Senior Class at the Dutch Reformed Church in Goodwood.
Three groups attended the National Gymnaestrada that year.
On 4 October 1986; on her birthday, Ria wrote and passed her Trimgim Instructors Examination.
Ria also assisted the Instructor of the Bellville Trimgim club whenever she was unavailable due to supervision of National Grade 12 Exams.
Later on, with the opening of the new Bellville Senior Centre opposite Shoprite in Voortrekker street, Ria and her ladies were already well-known and she took over their classes after the instructor they had took the senior’s money and disappeared in the wind.
With the construction and opening of Chrismar Villas, the club continued in their new venue and is still going to this day.
A Different focus
In 1986 Ria left Trimgim and joined Fitgim, but since neither was focused specifically on senior fitness, she decided to seek an alternative association to join.
In 1990 when Iona Henning started SASFA focused on senior citizens, Ria jumped at the opportunity. The South African Senior Fitness Association was born.
On 20 March 1996, Ria wrote and passed her SASFA Instructors Examination.
Leaving a Legacy
“Ek het altyd gevoel ek het alles opgebou tot ‘n mooi en genotvolle klub vir seniors en as ek nie meer kan aangaan nie, loop alles net so dood. Ek het onder my lede gevra, maar almal is afgetree en het nie kans gesien om so gebonde te wees nie. Toe vra ek my skoondogter, Juliana, of sy dit nie wil oorgweeg nie.”
Although age is just a number, the body does not always agree.
Juliana agreed and joined the group in Parow and then Bellville in 2015 as part of the succession plan when Ria retires as Instructor.
During May, 2017, Juliana obtained her National Certificate as Senior Fitness Instructor and in January 2018, she took over the Club from Ria.
Going on 81, Ria is still participating in both clubs as an honourary member.
A New Vision – 2021 and beyond
Somewhat of a perfectionist, Juliana is extremely dedicated to the health and wellbeing of Seniors and often spends hours on end practicing movements and making sure everything is perfectly synchronised with the music.
Recently, she rebranded the Club to differentiate it from the run-of-the-mill aerobic classes and line dances often called Trimgyms.
“Say No to boring exercises. Our Club and any other SASFA club, cannot be compared with others. It may look the same, it may sound the same, but it will never FEEL the same. It will never BE the same; and neither will you! We specialise in physical movements designed with ‘getting older’ in mind and it is not just about physical fitness. And no, it’s not dancing!”
Juliana is the owner-instructor of SeniorFit60+ and Representative of SASFA in the Western Cape.
Besides her dedication and love for her seniors, she is also a keen cyclist, an avid animal anti-cruelty advocate and a grand-mother of two beautiful little girls. In 2016, Juliana also tackled the famous 4×4 route, “Lion’s Balls” in Montague.
A glance back in time
Parow Seniors at the 4th Stellenbosch Gymnaestrada in 1994