Days ago, after a long and steady slide into the worst drought in more than a century that has caused the Western Cape to be officially declared a disaster area, Virgin Active announced that they would be closing their steam rooms and saunas and stopping the refilling of their swimming pools with immediate effect.

With dams now at under 10% usable reserve levels, and the city’s per capita water usage has remained over target rates in spite of months of water restrictions. We’re not sure about you but we’re starting to panic a little here, pools or no pools.

As a chain of dry gyms opening its first club in the Western Cape on the 1st of June, Viva Gym saves water already simply by virtue of our business model, as we keep costs and membership fees low by not having pools, saunas or steam rooms. Go us! And go our members for choosing a gym that consumes less water than wet gyms by design.

Besides choosing a dry gym as your Cape Town gym of choice, what else can you do to save every last drop?

We’ve come up with a list of 9 to get you started.

1. Fill up your bottle rather than use the drinking fountain

Just think about it. When using a drinking fountain, the average person presses the button to start the squirty water stream at least a few seconds before lowering their mouth to take a drink. It might not seem like a lot, but with hundreds of gym goers wasting just that beginning of a squirt, it all adds up.

Your alternative is to put your face in front of where you think the water is about to come out and kind of hope for the best. Either it squirts right down the back of your throat and makes you cough, or it goes up your nose or all over your face.

The solution? Bring a water bottle instead and fill it from the fountain.

2. Electrolytes

It’s important to stay hydrated, especially when exercising, and we recommend drinking water before, during and after your workout. But how do you ensure you actually absorb the greatest amount of hydration from that water instead of just sending it back down the loo again in an hour or so?

Electrolytes, baby. In spite of what marketers might tell you, you don’t have to buy brightly coloured sports drinks which often have too much sugar. You can ensure you have sufficient electrolyte levels to stay hydrated by eating enough complex carbohydrates and sodium. Check out these awesome infographics to learn more about hydration during exercise.

3. Don’t be a salty dog

You know what we just told you about enough sodium? On the other hand there’s too much sodium! Eating salty foods can make you thirsty and cause your cells to dehydrate, meaning you need more water, never mind the fact that it can give you high blood pressure.

If saving water isn’t enough of a reason for you to cut down on salt, here are a few more.

4. Save that last drop in the bottle

Somehow at the start of your next workout there is always the dregs of last workout’s water left in the bottle. Often it tastes like nasty plastic, after sitting there a while. If you can’t bring yourself to drink it, try watering a nearby plant or pouring it out into your toilet tank at home before bringing it to the gym. Every little bit counts.

5. Sponge Bob is your friend

Showering can waste huge amounts of water. Think of what goes down the drain while you wait for the steam to be hot enough to step into? Never mind what goes to waste while you soap up. We get it. Sometimes, especially after an especially sweaty spinning class you just might have to immerse yourself in a shower.

The obvious thing is to do is to keep your showers short, and turn off the taps while you later up, army-style (just imagine you’re a major badass).

When you’re less drenched, however, and can wash at home, consider filling your basin from the kettle and a little out the taps, and having a good ol’ sponge bath, which uses around 2 litres instead of the 65 odd that a shower can take.

6. Dry shampoo

It’s wonderful stuff. Nobody likes greasy ratty hair, but washing it and getting all those suds out can take a lot of time and water. Your solution? Shower your hair and pits with cans of dry shampoo and deodorant. Save time, save water, save the world.

7. Prepare your own food

Cape Town is literally jam packed with some of the best restaurants in the world.

Most of us can’t afford to eat out all that often, and it’s better for our water consumption this way. Try putting a bucket in your kitchen sink while you prepare a meal and just see how much water lands up in it when you wash your veggies and your hands throughout food preparation, and when you wash your dishes afterwards. You’ll be amazed at how much ends up in that bucket.

Eating at home means you can make a conscious effort to limit the amount of water used in the preparation of your meals, which is something you can’t control in a restaurant.

8. Be a hairy beast

Cape Town and its surrounding areas love a good beard almost as much as they love good wine, as the existence of this wine festival will confirm.

The water shortage gives everyone an excuse to let themselves go a little and get as hairy as they please, saving the water it takes to shave.

Ladies, we’re looking at you too. Bring on the leg beards.

9. Don’t drink and dry

Speaking of wine – at festivals or closer to home – anyone who’s had just a little too much the night before will know that feeling the next morning, waking up, gasping and grasping for that glass next to the bed to soothe the desert that your throat has become.

It’s true, drinking too much alcohol causes you to dehydrate, meaning you need to drink more water, which in turn means you need to use more water to survive.

Do you have any more tips for saving water, at gym or at home? Leave a comment below.

Even better, download a free pass to check out Viva Gym – the new (dry) gym on the block in Sunningdale, Cape Town.


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