The story behind the club …
The idea of leaving the crazy lifestyle of Djing and clubbing was a daunting task for two best friends from Johannesburg but it was something that needed to be done.
Jon-Jon Pietersen and long-time friend Chris Olley decided to focus their energy on getting fit and healthy and as nature lovers they decided to hit the hills!
There was a moment when Jon-Jon and Chris were half way up a mountain they both just wanted to give up, Jon-Jon recalls this moment as being that moment which changed his life, the moment where he could just give up and let it all slip away again or stand strong and carry on walking. He decided to push on forward with tears rolling down his cheeks. Jon-Jon (157kg at the time) and his 61 year old friend summited that mountain and overcame all odds. That’s where the story begins…
Both these characters have a big social media presence and sparked a lot of active interest in their new life style change and in particular the hiking.
Jon-Jon got an idea and decided to “run “with it , he wanted to start a hiking club for beginners, a club where anyone no matter what shape or size could join and he decided that this club should be called , The Hiking UN-Fit Hiking Club or THUHC for short.
In April 2016 the 2 guys opened up this previously private club of just 2 members to the public and they had a total of 42 complete strangers join them on their first hike as THUHC.
Through the power of social media the group started to pick up momentum and hike 2 had 120 people attend.
At same time an urgent message went out on Facebook about the Roodepoort SPCA running out of food and that’s when everything just fell into place. Jon-Jon knew that with the club growing and more and more people showing interest in the club, he had the perfect platform to ask for help to collect pet food and it worked!
He had put into play the single most important reason for this humble hiking group’s existence and that was to collect as much pet food and blankets as he could for various animal welfares in the country.
The hikes started filling up and the Pet food started coming in. By Feb 2017 this little hiking club that started from nothing had become possibly the biggest hiking club in South Africa and possibly one of the biggest in the world. With over 6500 members and they had managed to collect and distribute over 7 tons of food collected by themselves from private individuals donating to this cause.
The club has now opened up in Cape Town and has completed a total of 4 hikes to date and has managed to donate a couple hundred kilograms of food to shelters in and around Cape Town.
This is just the beginning! Jon-Jon plans on opening up a branch of the club in Durban this year and has plans on going international by starting this initiative in the London, New York and Berlin using his far reaching influence with friends who deeply care about the wellbeing of animals to help him with the club.
They are also starting a wild life division of the group that will be doing treks through game reserves accompanied by rangers and removing snares which have become a huge issue. The snares collected then get recycled and all proceeds go back into conservation.
The club does not charge a fee like many other clubs, all they ask is for people to donate pet food and Blankets and solely rely on private individuals for their help.
This epic little hiking club is leaving its foot print in the hiking scene and is a force to be reckoned with as they grow from strength to strength.
Facebook: THE HIKING UN-FIT HIKING CLUB
A few facts and figures
- Number of THUHC members – 6500
- Average number of hiker per hike – 150
- Most people attended a hike – 850 (Klipriverberg)
- Average Distance per Hike – 5km (takes around 2 hours, depending on terrain)
- Number of hikes in JHB – 22
- Number of hikes in Cape Town – 4
- Jon-Jon’s weight loss since inception of the club – 35KGs!
- Over 7 tons of pet food collected!
- Partnered with Joburg Parks and Tswane Parks to do hikes and to promote the reserves in and around the cities
- Hike Venues to date:
- Kloofendal Nature Reserve
- The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
- Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve
- Modderfontein Reserve
- De Vos Farm , Glen Austin
- Rustig Hiking Trails
- Marks Park Sports Grounds
- Golden Harvest Parkrun
- Sugar Bush Krugersdorp
- Hennops Hiking Trail
- Groenkloof Nature Reserve
- Mountain Sanctuary Park
- Moreleta Kloof Nature Reserve
- Kloof Nek
- Lion’s Head trail
- Silvermine Nature Reserve
- Faerie Glen Nature Reserve
- Newlands Forest