The club opening was attended by recent Olympic gold medallist and Virgin brand ambassador, Chad Le Clos. Le Clos was accompanied by father, Bert. The father and son combination were a huge hit with the crowd and set the context for the significance of the opening. Le Clos shared his future plans, explaining that one of his goals is to focus on local sports development and to encourage South African corporates to sponsor swimming initiatives.
Richard Branson congratulated Le Clos on his recent international accolades in a video message. Branson went on to say how he had been approached 12 years ago by Nelson Mandela and asked to save jobs by taking over the failing Health and Racquet Club group. Branson was thrilled with the success of the business and said one of the highlights for him was the opening of the Soweto club which, he said, had an atmosphere like no other.
Balfour Club was transformed into a modern day carnival scene with red and white bunting flags strung between pillars. Red and white striped panels were brought in as fun, quirky backdrops to registration and other unique event features, such as the photo booth and the "What's your stuff" t-shirt print activation. Kauai provided healthy snacks and refreshments for those exploring the club and its surrounds.
MC for the day, Mark Pilgrim, kept members and non-members alike entertained whilst DJ Small Paul, designed the vibe and made sure energy levels were maintained throughout the day.
Managing Director of Virgin Active Health South Africa, Ross Faragher-Thomas, said R60 million had been invested in the Balfour Park branch. Faragher-Thomas explained that there had been large investments for upgrading and maintaining Virgin Active clubs across South Africa. Ross Faragher- Thomas said he was particularly excited about this gym.
Faragher-Thomas spoke highly about the 100th club opening, "It's a fantastic milestone and a huge vote of confidence, bringing with it growth opportunities in the health and fitness market."
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