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The Leisure Media Company Ltd
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FITNESS, HEALTH, WELLNESS

features

Everyone’s talking about...: Active women

The stats show women are less active than men and more likely to drop out of sport. Is the industry doing all it could to support them in being active, or are there some quick wins we could put in place?

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2015 issue 5
I Will If You Will encouraged women to support each other in becoming active, and inspired Sport England’s This Girl Can
I Will If You Will encouraged women to support each other in becoming active, and inspired Sport England’s This Girl Can

If we do Parkrun as a family, my husband shoots off into the distance as soon as the whistle sounds, leaving me to coax the children round. While my exercise is limited to blocks of 20 or 30 minutes, snatched between work and childcare, he exercises instead of doing childcare.

I’m one of the lucky ones: there are many women living in the UK whose husbands, or cultures, stop them from exercising altogether. I also know he’d swap if I asked – he just doesn’t think of it first. This is very important because, according to the team behind I Will if You Will – the Bury Council-led initiative aimed at women – I’m not alone in this. In fact, this is one of the common barriers to many women being active: mothers are conditioned to put their children first. If childcare options or family activities aren’t available, they therefore don’t exercise.

There was a general consensus among the women on this panel that there needs to be a cultural shift whereby husbands and partners are supportive of women exercising.

But equally, the industry can also do its bit to make it easier for women. Allowing mums to bring babies in car seats into studio classes or poolside would be helpful, as would running sessions all the family can join; offering childcare; or putting on an adult class or swimming session that coincides with a kids’ swimming lesson or activity.

There’s a refreshing level of energy around the bid to get women active. Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign looks set to be a gamechanger, opening up conversations with all sorts of women’s brands from outside the industry. I Will if You Will – a project that encouraged women to support each other to become more active, and that inspired This Girl Can – had great success in its first phase, getting 7,500 women active. As it moves into phase two, it wants to take this further, working with more clubs.

So, is your club welcoming to women? What images are you using in publicity?

Is your timetable convenient, your receptionist welcoming? Do you offer hair straighteners? What else could you do?

How can we get more women, more active? Email us: [email protected]

Tanni Grey-Thompson,

Former Paralympian, Parliamentarian,
TV presenter & ukactive chair
,

Tanni Grey-Thompson
Tanni Grey-Thompson

“We need a cultural shift in how both sexes view women’s exercise. Time is a major barrier to many women being active: they can feel too caught up juggling work, family and other responsibilities. We need a public messaging campaign about the importance of women finding time for themselves, and men also need to support women in this.

Anything health clubs can do to facilitate this would help – for example, providing childcare so that mums with young children can exercise, running gym sessions and classes where they can bring their children, and organising activities that are suitable for all the family to be active.

Many girls drop out of physical activity during their teenage years, but health club operators could reach out to them with teenage gym sessions, classes and outreach programmes. I’d like to see more innovation from the industry.

Marketing is crucial. I’m a big fan of the This Girl Can campaign, because it reflects what people really look like when they exercise. I’d like to see more of this sort of imagery in marketing campaigns, not the size zero model in lycra doing yoga. Finally, I’d like to see clothing companies making more flattering sports clothes in larger sizes.”

Jennie Price,

CEO ,

Sport England

Jennie Price
Jennie Price

“From our insight work, we’ve learned that lots of women and girls feel judged at sports and health clubs. They feel they don’t belong, either because they’re the wrong size, shape or not wearing the right clothes. We want to take these insights and make sure clubs place them at the heart of their offering.

The easiest and most powerful thing any club can do to become more female-friendly is to ask women who aren’t currently using their facilities what they want. Reach out to former members, the local WI, NCT or colleges and find out why women aren’t coming to your club.

There’s a sharp drop-off in activity during teenage years, which is partly due to interests changing during puberty, but also because at this age sports clubs start focusing on talent; the average ones get left behind. Health clubs and sports clubs need to think about what they’re offering these girls and give the opportunity for teenagers to dip in and out of a range of activities. Unless they’re especially talented, teenagers don’t want to do a single sport. The activities that are growing are those where the user is in control, such as running and cycling. People also want to be casual, so all clubs need to react to that, offering the opportunity to be spontaneous.”

Jackie Veal,

Operational lead,

I Will if You Will

Jackie Veal
Jackie Veal

“Talking to women through social media has enabled us to understand what local women want to do and helped us reach out to females so we understand the barriers they face.

In terms of what operators can do to appeal to women, programming is very important. Women are time-poor, so they want things like a 20-minute class at lunchtime, or just before or after work. Timetabling is crucial: classes must be run at a convenient time. A more relaxed and supportive approach to bringing babies and children along is also needed.

Many women are intimidated by gyms because they think they’ll be full of people who look like the women in the adverts. We didn’t use any stock images for I Will if You Will: using local women in our publicity encouraged more people to give it a go.

There are also a lot of important considerations when it comes to facility design and changing room provision. We’ve worked hard with our studio team and deliverers to ensure we offer an encouraging environment at all times, reinforcing the positive messages of I Will if You Will. Providing blinds and screens for women-only sessions gives some females more confidence, and offering female-only sessions – such as learn to swim lessons – has given them confidence to start swimming on their own.”

Jim Graham,

COO,

The Gym Group

Jim Graham
Jim Graham

“It’s to the benefit of our industry to have more women as members. An even gender mix creates a better vibe and the sexes use gyms differently, driving better use of space and equipment.

Our research shows females can struggle with the idea of a gym membership. They often perceive gyms to be intimidating places that are not for them, or that sport generally isn’t their thing. Our member base is currently 40 per cent female and we’re working hard to increase this through our environment – a gender-neutral, light, airy and non-threatening space – and by offering more of what our female members want, such as functional training and group exercise.

We’re partnering with Sport England in an open weekend aimed at women in May, hopefully showing prospects that our gyms are places they can see themselves spending time in. Working out with friends is a great way of motivating repeat exercise behaviour, so we’re encouraging people to come with a friend. Role models are also key to getting people active, and we think female sporting role models are not yet celebrated to the extent of males. To this end, we’re sponsoring the Sporting Role Model award at the Women’s Sports Trust’s inaugural Be A Game Changer Awards.”

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Pure Fitness was launched in 2003 to complement Pure Yoga
Pure Fitness was launched in 2003 to complement Pure Yoga
At Pure Yoga, members can find yoga, fitness, apparel and food all under one roof
At Pure Yoga, members can find yoga, fitness, apparel and food all under one roof
At Pure Yoga, members can find yoga, fitness, apparel and food all under one roof
At Pure Yoga, members can find yoga, fitness, apparel and food all under one roof
Healthy nutrition complements the whole Pure lifestyle concept
Healthy nutrition complements the whole Pure lifestyle concept
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/846834_810533.jpg
Women are less active than men. Tanni Grey-Thompson gives her thoughts on how to right this wrong
Kath Hudson, Journalist, Health Club Management Tanni Grey-Thompson Jennie Price, Jackie Veal, Jim Graham,,Women, participation, This Girl Can, I Will if You Will, Sport England, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Jennie Price, Jackie Veal, Jim Graham, Gym Group
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features

Everyone’s talking about...: Active women

The stats show women are less active than men and more likely to drop out of sport. Is the industry doing all it could to support them in being active, or are there some quick wins we could put in place?

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2015 issue 5
I Will If You Will encouraged women to support each other in becoming active, and inspired Sport England’s This Girl Can
I Will If You Will encouraged women to support each other in becoming active, and inspired Sport England’s This Girl Can

If we do Parkrun as a family, my husband shoots off into the distance as soon as the whistle sounds, leaving me to coax the children round. While my exercise is limited to blocks of 20 or 30 minutes, snatched between work and childcare, he exercises instead of doing childcare.

I’m one of the lucky ones: there are many women living in the UK whose husbands, or cultures, stop them from exercising altogether. I also know he’d swap if I asked – he just doesn’t think of it first. This is very important because, according to the team behind I Will if You Will – the Bury Council-led initiative aimed at women – I’m not alone in this. In fact, this is one of the common barriers to many women being active: mothers are conditioned to put their children first. If childcare options or family activities aren’t available, they therefore don’t exercise.

There was a general consensus among the women on this panel that there needs to be a cultural shift whereby husbands and partners are supportive of women exercising.

But equally, the industry can also do its bit to make it easier for women. Allowing mums to bring babies in car seats into studio classes or poolside would be helpful, as would running sessions all the family can join; offering childcare; or putting on an adult class or swimming session that coincides with a kids’ swimming lesson or activity.

There’s a refreshing level of energy around the bid to get women active. Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign looks set to be a gamechanger, opening up conversations with all sorts of women’s brands from outside the industry. I Will if You Will – a project that encouraged women to support each other to become more active, and that inspired This Girl Can – had great success in its first phase, getting 7,500 women active. As it moves into phase two, it wants to take this further, working with more clubs.

So, is your club welcoming to women? What images are you using in publicity?

Is your timetable convenient, your receptionist welcoming? Do you offer hair straighteners? What else could you do?

How can we get more women, more active? Email us: [email protected]

Tanni Grey-Thompson,

Former Paralympian, Parliamentarian,
TV presenter & ukactive chair
,

Tanni Grey-Thompson
Tanni Grey-Thompson

“We need a cultural shift in how both sexes view women’s exercise. Time is a major barrier to many women being active: they can feel too caught up juggling work, family and other responsibilities. We need a public messaging campaign about the importance of women finding time for themselves, and men also need to support women in this.

Anything health clubs can do to facilitate this would help – for example, providing childcare so that mums with young children can exercise, running gym sessions and classes where they can bring their children, and organising activities that are suitable for all the family to be active.

Many girls drop out of physical activity during their teenage years, but health club operators could reach out to them with teenage gym sessions, classes and outreach programmes. I’d like to see more innovation from the industry.

Marketing is crucial. I’m a big fan of the This Girl Can campaign, because it reflects what people really look like when they exercise. I’d like to see more of this sort of imagery in marketing campaigns, not the size zero model in lycra doing yoga. Finally, I’d like to see clothing companies making more flattering sports clothes in larger sizes.”

Jennie Price,

CEO ,

Sport England

Jennie Price
Jennie Price

“From our insight work, we’ve learned that lots of women and girls feel judged at sports and health clubs. They feel they don’t belong, either because they’re the wrong size, shape or not wearing the right clothes. We want to take these insights and make sure clubs place them at the heart of their offering.

The easiest and most powerful thing any club can do to become more female-friendly is to ask women who aren’t currently using their facilities what they want. Reach out to former members, the local WI, NCT or colleges and find out why women aren’t coming to your club.

There’s a sharp drop-off in activity during teenage years, which is partly due to interests changing during puberty, but also because at this age sports clubs start focusing on talent; the average ones get left behind. Health clubs and sports clubs need to think about what they’re offering these girls and give the opportunity for teenagers to dip in and out of a range of activities. Unless they’re especially talented, teenagers don’t want to do a single sport. The activities that are growing are those where the user is in control, such as running and cycling. People also want to be casual, so all clubs need to react to that, offering the opportunity to be spontaneous.”

Jackie Veal,

Operational lead,

I Will if You Will

Jackie Veal
Jackie Veal

“Talking to women through social media has enabled us to understand what local women want to do and helped us reach out to females so we understand the barriers they face.

In terms of what operators can do to appeal to women, programming is very important. Women are time-poor, so they want things like a 20-minute class at lunchtime, or just before or after work. Timetabling is crucial: classes must be run at a convenient time. A more relaxed and supportive approach to bringing babies and children along is also needed.

Many women are intimidated by gyms because they think they’ll be full of people who look like the women in the adverts. We didn’t use any stock images for I Will if You Will: using local women in our publicity encouraged more people to give it a go.

There are also a lot of important considerations when it comes to facility design and changing room provision. We’ve worked hard with our studio team and deliverers to ensure we offer an encouraging environment at all times, reinforcing the positive messages of I Will if You Will. Providing blinds and screens for women-only sessions gives some females more confidence, and offering female-only sessions – such as learn to swim lessons – has given them confidence to start swimming on their own.”

Jim Graham,

COO,

The Gym Group

Jim Graham
Jim Graham

“It’s to the benefit of our industry to have more women as members. An even gender mix creates a better vibe and the sexes use gyms differently, driving better use of space and equipment.

Our research shows females can struggle with the idea of a gym membership. They often perceive gyms to be intimidating places that are not for them, or that sport generally isn’t their thing. Our member base is currently 40 per cent female and we’re working hard to increase this through our environment – a gender-neutral, light, airy and non-threatening space – and by offering more of what our female members want, such as functional training and group exercise.

We’re partnering with Sport England in an open weekend aimed at women in May, hopefully showing prospects that our gyms are places they can see themselves spending time in. Working out with friends is a great way of motivating repeat exercise behaviour, so we’re encouraging people to come with a friend. Role models are also key to getting people active, and we think female sporting role models are not yet celebrated to the extent of males. To this end, we’re sponsoring the Sporting Role Model award at the Women’s Sports Trust’s inaugural Be A Game Changer Awards.”

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Pure Fitness was launched in 2003 to complement Pure Yoga
Pure Fitness was launched in 2003 to complement Pure Yoga
At Pure Yoga, members can find yoga, fitness, apparel and food all under one roof
At Pure Yoga, members can find yoga, fitness, apparel and food all under one roof
At Pure Yoga, members can find yoga, fitness, apparel and food all under one roof
At Pure Yoga, members can find yoga, fitness, apparel and food all under one roof
Healthy nutrition complements the whole Pure lifestyle concept
Healthy nutrition complements the whole Pure lifestyle concept
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/846834_810533.jpg
Women are less active than men. Tanni Grey-Thompson gives her thoughts on how to right this wrong
Kath Hudson, Journalist, Health Club Management Tanni Grey-Thompson Jennie Price, Jackie Veal, Jim Graham,,Women, participation, This Girl Can, I Will if You Will, Sport England, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Jennie Price, Jackie Veal, Jim Graham, Gym Group
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The way fat stores are metabolised during exercise is different in males and females, according ...
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Featured supplier news: Altrafit introduces custom functional fitness equipment at Third Space
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Company profiles
Company profile: TRP (powered by Fitronics)
Fitronics develop effective, user-friendly software for the sport, health and fitness industry to improve member ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Xplor Gym
Xplor Gym is an all-in-one gym management software with embedded payments & integrated access control ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Safe Space: Delivering the vision
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
Active IQ press release: Industry heavyweight David Stalker joins Active IQ as independent adviser
David Stalker, President of EuropeActive and a CIMSPA chartered fellow is joining Active IQ from July 2024.
Featured press releases
Greenwich Leisure Limited press release: London Youth Games concludes at Copper Box Arena
After an incredibly competitive season, the London Youth Games Finals Festival took place at the end of last month at GLL's Copper Box Arena in London.
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