Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign sparked a conversation a year ago that hasn’t stopped. It returned to our TV screens and social media a week ago and is already having phenomenal impact – especially with it’s new message to women; that it’s OK to start again.
You’ve got two burpees left and your legs feel like two planks of wood, but you’re not stopping when every single person at the bootcamp is screaming your name. You sit down at the leg press machine at the gym and today, you’re going to push yourself a little more, so you move the metal pin down a notch pressing the heaviest weights you ever have *smug face. There’s never enough hours in the day, but a quick run around the block is better than nothing at all, so you go for it and with your short window, you actually achieve a personal best…
Lydia, 29, hated P.E., loves roller derby.
This Girl Can – but how do you get there?
Working out can fill you with an enormous sense of pride and achievement, but what about if you stop? When you stop for a week, a week can easily become a month and a few months all of sudden can become a year. The impending doom felt walking back into that class, gym or just stepping out solo on the tarmac, is enough to weigh heavy on anyone’s shoulders. Quite frankly, it’s awful.
I used to go to dance school three or four times a week plus doing sports at school. During uni and my working life I’ve tried a few different things; I tried the gym and even going to dance classes again. But the gym was a whole new world of intimidating machinery and dancing felt embarrassing as I couldn’t do anything I was able to do all those years ago. Group classes at the gym were tough and without even a basic fitness level, (I smoke cigarettes and drink wine like it’s water) I started telling myself I needed to go to the gym alone before starting again at a group class, just to make sure I could do it (excuses, excuses).
This Girl Can – and it’s OK to feel nervous
When I looked into the latest campaign for This Girl Can, I was actually relieved to see so many other people shared this feeling of anxiety about getting back into working out (not that I want people to feel anxious, but it’s nice to know you’re not alone).
“Many of the women we’ve featured talk about stopping, then starting again. It can feel like the hardest thing in the world to return after a few weeks off, when you fear you’ve lost ground or fitness, but we want to surface this as a discussion point, to say it’s normal to take a break, but that needn’t stop you for good.”
This year, I have a motivating factor that I’m getting married and I just want to be fitter and healthier. So I’ve started learning kickboxing, because I need something that keeps me focused on learning something new (running on a treadmill is mind-numbing to me). My partner and I also do a weekly strength and conditioning session together with our trainer. Plus, I’m starting to get into weights more at the gym in my own time.
So I’ve finally found my way back to sport and more than anything I feel like me again. I always considered myself a busy and active person, and now I really am, plus I’m aiming to be the fittest I’ve ever been. Because, why not?
This Girl Can – and she’s going to make waves
Sport England has returned with it’s latest advert for the This Girl Can campaign to keep the positive momentum going and to continue to inspire and connect with a female audience – because believe it or not there is still a big gender gap in sport participation.
“…the job is far from done. With a gender gap of 1.73 million fewer women playing sport compared to men, we need to keep getting the message out there that women come in all shapes and sizes and levels of ability, and they should all feel able to exercise and play sport.”
This year, the target age demographic has widened; originally targeting 14-40 year olds, this year’s campaign focuses on 14-60 year olds. If the success of the original campaign is anything to go by, with a whopping 2.8 million women saying they did more sporting activity as a result of the campaign, (Sport England, Feb 2017) then this year’s is set to inspire even more, including that older demographic.
Sue, 67, cold water gives her a buzz.
Just check out 67-year-old Sue who enjoys cold water swimming (!) To overcome the anxiety of getting back into something, or even starting something new, maybe consider what motivates you to be active then find the right activity to suit your lifestyle – there’s so much out there to choose from! There’s everything from aerial trapeze to rave trampolining, but cold water swimming is absolutely not for me. I couldn’t possibly think of anything much worse, but props to anyone that chooses to do this!
This Girl Can – and nothing will stop her
Personally, I have always whinged about going to fitness classes. My mum used to tell me as she pushed me towards the car, “you’ll be fine when you get there” (a phrase that covered a multitude of foot-stomping situations, see also: ‘getting to school when feeling sick’). But I always was fine. In fact, I was more than fine, I was really happy. So take the advice from my mum, because ‘Mum knows best’ and tell yourself, ‘you’ll be fine when you get there.’ Then you can feel extra surprised when you feel phenomenal when you’re done.
This Girl Can – watch the full advert
Click to watch the full 2017 This Girl Can advert from Sport England.
Featuring words by Maya Angelou and soundtrack by Beth Ditto.
Have you ever stopped something and felt anxious about starting again? How did you overcome it?