Gyms mooted for more prisons

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gym fraudsters CAPE TIMES (From left) Morne Goodman, Enrico Oliver and Robert Joseph, inmates at the Malmesbury Medium A Correctional Centre, work out in a fitness centre set up in the prison by former Health & Racquet gym executives. Picture: MICHAEL WALKER

Cape Town - Gyms, modelled on the one set up in the Malmesbury prison by former inmates Rodney Mitchell and Brent Gardener, may be rolled out to other prisons - and the Goodwood facility could be next.

Gardener and Mitchell, former heads of the Health & Racquet franchise liquidated in 2000, created the state-of-the-art and fully sponsored gym in the Malmesbury Medium A Correctional Centre while serving 19 months of their seven-year prison terms.

The duo were convicted of fraud involving R12 million in 2007. They started serving their terms in 2011 and were released from jail early last month. Gardener and Mitchell are now serving alternative sentences.

Equipment and trainers for the gym they set up, which is open to inmates and prison officials under the project “Opportunity through Fitness”, were sponsored by various companies.

The Correctional Services Department is responsible for maintaining it.

Among others, the prison gym was sponsored by The Zone Fitness Group.

Brent Gardener, who this week confirmed to the Cape Times he is Peter Gardener’s son, is the operations director at Zone Fitness.

On Tuesday he referred the Cape Times to Herman Blackie, the company’s sales and marketing director, for further comment.

Blackie said Peter Gardener had no official link to Zone Fitness.

Zone Fitness was looking at helping in the rolling out of other gyms in other prisons, such as the one in Goodwood, Blackie said.

Zone Fitness had been approached about 14 months ago about getting involved in the Malmesbury prison gym.

Initially frustrated with the slow pace at which the plan unfolded, Blackie said he felt good about the gym when he saw the positive impact it had on inmates.

“To see the guys qualify and get their (fitness trainer) certificates, that’s why we got into it.

“It’s (about) ploughing back,” he said.

Blackie had met Delekile Klaas, the province’s Correctional Services Department’s regional commissioner, about rolling out more gyms.

On Tuesday, Klaas confirmed they had met and said Goodwood prison and Brandvlei prison were being eyed as possible centres at which to set up the next gyms.

He said he planned to meet Zone Fitness representatives again next week to discuss it.

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Cape Times

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