WATCH | Joburg gym enthusiast creates own equipment and jobs after losing income during lockdown

  • When Dylan Middleditch lost his income during the nationwide lockdown, it was his love for the gym that helped him get back on his feet. 
  • The Joburg resident struck a partnership with Sibongiseni Dingindlela, a Tembisa-based welder and steelworker. Together they make their own home gym equipment. 
  • Dingindlela in turn has been able to hire youth from his community who earn a steady income, thanks to their success. 

When Dylan Middleditch lost his income during lockdown, bills started piling up and with a family to feed, it forced the father of three to get creative. 

He partnered with Tembisa-based welder and steelworker Sibongiseni Dingindlela to start a successful business making their own home exercise equipment. They sell the gear to fellow fitness buffs, at an affordable price. Together, the two have managed to employ at least six other young men from the Tembisa community - helping them to earn a living.

Middleditch met Dingindlela on Facebook after searching for someone who made home gym equipment, to use during lockdown.

"I had no access to gym equipment for the first initial five weeks, so I went on Facebook looking and I found Sibo, my business partner."

They started small, making benches and racks, so that people could start exercising at home.

"There was a market for it and I exploited it. We've grown and enjoyed it, at least I can support him and he can support some youth in Tembisa. Everyone can have a piece of the pie at the end of the day," Middleditch, the marketing manager of the company, said.

"My wife is a swimming teacher and she hasn't been able to work, so no work no pay for her because she runs her own business. We have been able to provide, pay rent and other things without her working," he said.  

Dingindlela told News24 that he started making gym equipment in April during the nationwide lockdown as a way to diversify his offering. He normally manufactures butchery and catering equipment.

"I did see the opportunity, as I already had the skills and experience to make butchery and catering equipment. The partnership with Dylan has benefitted me and my business a lot as I was doing everything myself, like being the production manager and advertising, but now I can just focus on production and making the best possible products," he said.  

He's since hired six young men from the Tembisa community, providing them with an income and teaching them skills like welding.

Dingindlela was also able to buy his first ever car, a bakkie to assist with the transportation of the products and delivery. 

In the last six weeks the pair have been making and selling about 20 benches and five to six racks a week. Their power racks cost roughly R5 000, while retailers sell them for upwards of R15 000. 

The men are still contemplating the future of their business, as gyms are expected to open once lockdown regulations are eased. But they hope their low prices will give them an edge in the market.

Dingindlela said he hopes that South Africans will continue to support them as their products are of better quality and value than some of the imports that come to the country. 

"My dream is that South Africans will continue to see the quality of our products. And that they'll continue to support us, so that we can grow and expand. My family and I believe that this business will succeed one day," he said. 

"South Africa is a land where we can make our own opportunities. I have a two-year-old little girl and I could never give up for her," Middleditch added. 

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