Sports Science Institute of South Africa, Cape Town

, September 4, 2017

Cape Town might be littered with trails, surf breaks and adorable beaches, but its centre of gravity for elite sports training no doubt hangs in the Newlands neighbourhood. This part of town is home to two major stadiums for rugby and cricket as well as a world-class gym, Sport Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA). Opened way back in 1995, SSISA continues to act as a visionary in the world of sports training facilities, and is visitable for athletic tourists visiting the Cape.

The spacious building that houses SSISA is impressively appointed. On the mezzanine level of the gym complex is a 140m, 2-lane indoor track loops around the weights and cardio area with the swimming pool below, in a halo-like orientation. Walk across an internal bridge to dock with a more spacious training hall with auxiliary rooms for testing. On one side of the hall are a row of weight racks and cages, an abundance which is hard to come by in a regular gym. This equipment is sectioned off from the open hall by a sprint track which extends for 100m within the building.


A number of tests can be taken at SSISA, partly thanks to the pioneering work by University of Cape Town’s division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM), which is now based in the upper levels of the building. Guests can have their VO2max registered in a cycling lab, get their “Fat Max” taken and have you saddle fit optimised for your bike. Adjacent to the labs is the Endurance Studio, home to 10 Wattbikes and 8 Grucox eccentric isokinetic bikes, a regular training zone for the SSISA’s manager.

The curiosity of ESSM dives deeper to by taking a scientific approach to their facility, reinforced by a number of facilities linked to SSISA. These include a chronobiology and sleep lab, a metabolic chamber, tissue culture lab and microvascular reactivity lab (mechanics behind hypertension). As for rehab and recovery, on-site physio, sports psychology, orthopaedic treatment and neurology practice are all available, as are dietitian and podiatrists. In total, 80 research projects are ongoing at any time – the future is near.

In step with the rest of the fitness world, SSISA has installed a healthy cafe, crafted not by a foodie but a qualified dietitian. Padlocks are available for loan to use on lockers, and towels are available on request. Secure parking is offered outside the entrance to SSISA, meaning your only concern is the current water shortage in Cape Town, which you should prepare for before preparing your session.


Also in the Newlands neighbourhood is the prestigious Vineyard Hotel, equipped with an impressive gym and massage treatments, yet without the robust approach of SSISA. The hotel serves up an excellent breakfast to place either side of your workout down the road. As for a proximity run, try the Skeleton Gorge Trail, which passes through Newlands Forest before making the ascent up the east face of Table Mountain.

Day use of the finess centre is R155, with 10-pass booklets priced at R1185. Contact to get more information.