There is no short answer to the question, ‘How fit must I be to hike Table Mountain’. Several variables determine whether you should bother or not. The short answer is, you don’t need to be very fit. But if you don’t have much fitness, you need to bring something else to the table (pun intended): motivation / determination, often an offspring of enthusiasm and passion.
Table Mountain hikes come in all levels of difficulty, both in terms of physicality, technicality and ruggedness (terrain). Routes vary from well-defined trails consisting of rock steps to bushy routes with loose rock that involves scrambling over big drops. To answer the question in question, most people with mediocre motivation can complete the easiest route in reasonable time. But when it comes to Table Mountain hiking, the quickest and easiest route is also the least scenic and exciting. All the other routes are quite a bit harder, either technically or physically, so more fitness and / or sense of adventure combined with agility are needed to enjoy them. And that’s the key word: enjoy…
Most people could drag themselves up the easiest route, but it’s unlikely they will enjoy the experience – unless their masochist or took up a bet that would earn them handsomely. In order to enjoy hiking Table Mountain, you need a measure of fitness; or unbridled enthusiasm or determination that overrides the discomfort of exhaustion. I have seen many an unfit but enthusiastic hiker enjoy the experience of hiking Table Mountain more than a person of average fitness and low motivation.
Table Mountain hiking is also about challenging yourself and getting a sense of achievement. Earning your views and feeling like you’ve conquered the mountain are all part of the package. Set your expectations right: climbing a mountain – and Table Mountain is a real mountain despite its proximity to a city – involves challenge and an expenditure of energy, usually more than what you’re accustomed to. But the mountain rewards you amply, and the personal growth attained from challenging yourself and facing up to your doubts and fears far outweigh the sweat on the brow (and often also the back). The views, the fresh air, the dramatic landscapes, connecting with nature – these are all bonus rewards.