This Girl Can -  the campaign to get women and girls more active

Women are being encouraged to get active as this Girl Can campaign launched its first dedicated ‘This Girl Can Week’.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 5:22 pm

Research by Sport England found that women have struggled to maintain their activity habits during the coronavirus pandemic.

Data showed that women are less likely to return to activity than men, with the most prevalent barriers including not feeling fit enough, childcare responsibilities and worries about COVID-19.

The message of the new campaign is ‘it’s time to choose you’ and is putting the spotlight on women and exercise, celebrating how getting active can make women feel happier, stronger, and free.

Led by Active Sussex, the This Girl Can Sussex Network encouraged women across the county to take up exercise whether they choose to do a brisk walk, a slow run, a trip to the pool or dance round the living room with friends – it all counts.

Sadie Mason MBE, CEO at Active Sussex said: “Our mission is to help those groups and communities of people most at risk of inactivity to get active in ways that work for them, so we are very proud to be supporters of the This Girl Can campaign.

“The This Girl Can Week is a fantastic way to come together and mobilise our new network to encourage more women and girls across Sussex to ‘choose you’ and find ways of moving that they enjoy.”

The Sussex network was launched in December 2020, initially with two Sussex ambassadors, Tess Agnew from Brighton and Zoe Ward.

This Girl Can

The network now comprises a further eighteen champions and several more promoters, helping to amplify the This Girl Can message across different areas and communities in the county, to help break down barriers and encourage more women and girls to get moving.

Loretta Lock is a Sussex champion, she found that exercise not only helped her during lockdown but could help her journey through peri-menopause.

An Eastbourne-based mum and owner of Defiant Sports, Loretta became a coach in 2005 to enable her children and their home-educated friends to have PE lessons.

Her son Callum has some disabilities and so she began Defiant Sports too help provide access to physical activity for anyone with a barrier to participation.

Loretta Lock

Despite being a coach, Loretta rarely found time to exercise for herself.

She discovered Couch to 5k in the first Covid-19 lockdown and finally found something that gave her some much-needed headspace and time to enjoy participating in activity instead of coaching it.

It wasn’t just time, money and confidence that presented barriers to Loretta getting active.

She was in the perimenopause and beginning to experience night sweats, hot flushes and resistant weight gain.

Jodie Rix

Loretta said: “Regardless of these barriers, I completed the programme. Did I do each run on schedule? No! Did I run 5k in 30 minutes? No! Did I complete every run first time? No! Did I complete the programme, in my time, on my terms? Yes! And I felt like an absolute superstar. This has now developed in me, a love for jogging.”

Now, entering menopause, Loretta is continuing this new-found love and training in a way that works for her.

Kate Dale, This Girl Can campaign lead, said: “We know that the last year has been especially difficult for women when it comes to doing something for themselves, particularly when it comes to getting physically active.

“The work we do through This Girl Can aims to frame exercise in a way that highlights each and every benefit we can all get from moving more, like feeling healthier, better mental and emotional health, flexibility, building strength and – most importantly – having fun. ”

Jodie Rix lives in Mid Sussex, she is a fitness trainer and mum.

After her divorce she discovered that exercise supported her mental health as she went through difficult times.

With her own personal and work experiences over the years, she developed a great passion to work with women to look after their overall wellbeing both mentally and physically through becoming more active.

She said: “I never had the typical fitness body and after having my children via C-section and my body never going back to pre-baby shape, I experienced lack of confidence due to how we ‘should look’ by society. Since I have matured and gone through so much I see things so differently now and ignore those pressures.

“I feel that my experiences have allowed me to have more empathy with women I train and I have a great passion to work with liked-minded women who want to grow in confidence regardless of what shape or size they are.”

Jodie is now a personal trainer and class instructor and works with women of all ages to help them enjoy getting active. She is also developing her knowledge to help women use activity to support themselves through the menopause.

During the week Eastbourne’s Boss Gym offered local residents free days passes and taster classes.

It also launched its own campaign to inspire more women in the area to join gyms and fight clubs to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

The gym recognises that many gyms can be daunting and it wanted to break down stereotypes and show how welcoming and supportive theses places can be.

Suzie Volkes, of Boss Gym, said: “I know from personal experience, how intimidating starting your health and fitness journey can be, and that can really hinder or stop women completely from making those healthy changes.

“Boss Gym was created specifically as a place where everyone would feel welcome and supported in health and fitness plans, and for us this is all about how we can play our part in supporting women in area to get started and build that confidence.”

Nix Florides uses exercise and healthy eating to manage a hormone imbalance, which she discovered she had five years ago.

She said: “Instead of taking the doctors advice to go on thyroxine pills for the rest of my life, I decided to start my fitness journey at the gym.

“I have managed my hormone imbalance with good natural foods and regular exercise and training has saved me from going on long term medication. Sometimes all you need to do is walk into a gym and find what suits you.

“This Girl Can Week is so important as any women who might be worries or anxious about going to the gym, just needs to know it is the best thing I ever did.”