This month we took to the mic at Elevate to talk all things fitness. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Elevate, it’s the UK’s largest trade show dedicated to sport and physical activity. We worked with our friends at This Girl Can to talk about tackling issues women face in the world of exercise, learn from others and spread the magic we’ve been busy making. Hopefully we inspired those that listened because we were definitely inspired by so many gyms, studios, sport clubs, universities and fitness fanatics who came together to support our mission of making physical activity a priority. From team sports to group exercise, there were dozens of organisations like ours, working towards a common goal. Here’s a quick snapshot of our time at Elevate!
Setting the scene
Shelley, our brilliant COO and the lovely Claire, Head of Campaign Activation at Sport England, took to the stage to discuss our findings as a collective when it comes to women in the fitness industry. They shared facts, trends and stories from class participants, leisure operators and instructors to paint a picture of our journey so far and encourage more women to get involved and learn about what we do.
We were also joined by Sarah Roberts, Head of Fitness at Places Leisure, and Emily Cox, Project Manager from EMD UK, for a lively discussion entitled Is the fitness industry really beginner friendly? We had some great points and questions from our audience members, and already there is some fantastic work happening and more to be done!
These girls can
Without This Girl Can, there would be no This Girl Can Classes. We got stuck into why This Girl Can was born in the first place. Any guesses? You got it, the good old fashioned Gender Activity Gap (GAG). If you’re not too familiar with this piece of research, you can read more here, but in summary, the GAG shows that women are much less likely to reach the UK Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity guidelines (CMO guidelines) than men. And there was no way we were going to sit back and watch that keep happening, so we set ourselves the challenging but incredibly important mission of increasing the number of girls and women taking part in exercise. Et voilà! This Girl Can Classes was born in 2019 to help ensure women have access to group exercise classes that had been fully designed to their needs, helping them overcome potential hurdles to physical activity.
The Enjoyment Gap
In the latest This Girl Can campaign we’ve seen that not only is there a Gender Activity Gap but there is a big difference in the percentage of men and women who say they enjoy being active. This is what we call The Enjoyment Gap, and it’s one of the many reasons we bang on about having fun and feeling good. We know how important it is to enjoy exercise – it’s what makes you want to keep moving! This Girl Can Classes are a safe space for women to (re)ignite their love for group exercise, a place where women feel welcome, encouraged and represented. The more opportunities there are for women to exercise in positive environments, the better and as put by Claire, “we strongly believe the enjoyment gap is not inevitable”. So, we need to keep challenging the obstacles that make physical activity and exercise feel less welcoming for women, in order to make a real difference. Check out our blog on The Enjoyment Gap to learn more.
At the event we also discussed the barriers that hold women back, including fear of judgement and how women are portrayed in the fitness industry. We pride ourselves and our friends at This Girl Can on our commitment to representing all types of women in fitness, encouraging them to be active in whichever way suits their lifestyle, regardless of age, background or ability. We’ve come a long way, with the support of our participants, instructors and leisure operator partners – proud is an understatement.
Our journey is far from over, and if you’re not already, we’d love you to be a part of it. If you’re keen to boost your fitness levels and have a blast while doing it, find your nearest class here. Finally, if you’d like to find out more about Elevate and maybe join us next year, you can find all the details on their website!