There’s nothing for women to fear in the gym!
That’s the message from female gym-goers of various ages from the Fylde coast.
A recent study by Sport England found three quarters of women would like to exercise more, but many were put off by the fear of being judged over appearance and ability, and concerns from mothers that people will think they are putting themselves first.
The research has prompted Sport England to plan a new campaign, to empower women, encouraging more to get active and improve their health. This Girl Can will launch in the new year and aims to get more women joining a local sports club, gym or to exercise at home.
Women who were interviewed as part of the study knew they should exercise, and expressed a wish to take part in sport, but many did not achieve the recommended levels of exercise. Among some women – across all age groups – concerns over how they looked while exercising was enough to stop them taking part.
Another major barrier was a fear about ability – whether they were good enough, or too good and therefore unfeminine.
And at the new state-of-the-art health and fitness centre at the redeveloped YMCA in Poulton, female gym-goers said they understood the apprehension and fear of being judged – but there was actually nothing for women to fear and regular exercise could make a big difference to their lives.
Some of them didn’t know what to expect and had preconceptions that people who go to gyms were already fit, toned and immaculate.
Samantha Evans, 26, of Fleetwood, has been a member of YMCA and using YMCA gyms for three years. She said: “Yes, I was a little apprehensive about going into a gym for the first time, but I wanted to change my lifestyle and get fitter, so I had to get over it.
“I found it a little hard for the first couple of times – but that goes when you realise there’s nothing to worry about.”
Amanda Hollingworth, a 44-year-old from Poulton, has been a member of the gyms in Poulton and Thornton for more than 20 years.
She said: “I’ve always come to the gym on my own, then you just start chatting to people, the instructors and other gym users – which helps make you feel more comfortable and it’s more of a social experience, too.”
Mum-of-two Louise Dickinson, 46, of Cleveleys, said for her the first step to losing weight was getting in the pool.
She said: “I needed to lose weight so started off swimming. I was worried about putting a swimming costume on, but once you’re in the pool you forget and remember everyone else is doing their own thing, too – they’re not interested in what you’re doing.”
Louise went from just swimming, to the gym and she now thoroughly enjoys taking part in the classes and group workouts – “they are very sociable.”
Georgia Hindle, 23, of Poulton, joined YMCA in July on a summer mission to tone up.
She said: “I was unsure about what to do in the gym at first, so just started on the treadmills.
“Then I got a personal programme off my fitness instructor and my short-term summer mission has turned into a Christmas mission!
“I feel nice about myself and I’ve already bought my Christmas party dress.
“You think gyms are just for slim people – but they’re not.”
Louise’s advice is: “Just go into the gym and take a look around.
“You’ll see people of all ages and abilities who are just as unfit, they were just as self-conscious – but you’ve just got to do it, life’s too short and you will feel good once you try it.”
Claire Nutton, YMCA fitness manager, said: “We’re here to make sure everyone feels welcome all the time and does not feel nervous about using the gym.
“Some of our new equipment is so easy to use, with the ability to log in to the cardio machines with your mobile if you want to, so you don’t have to touch a button.
“We’re also very focused on making sure everyone has their own personalised fitness programme to follow – so within weeks your confidence grows naturally, you get to know the instructors and other members and feel at ease.”
The This Girl Can campaign will aim to address women’s fears, by helping to show women they are not alone in their worries.