Yes, women can!
That’s the message behind a new project being run by the YMCA, which aims to get more women aged between 14 and 40 into sport and exercise.
The YMCA in Fylde is organising free and reduced-rate women’s classes and fitness sessions, under the banner Y:Women Can.
The project is linked to Sport England’s national campaign This Girl Can – which aims to celebrate and promote women in sport and help break down barriers which stop women from taking up exercise.
There are free running classes in St Annes and Lytham, as well as cycling and swimming sessions on offer at reduced rates of £2 for women. Women do not have to be members of the YMCA to attend.
Not only do the sessions offer a chance to get fit, they also offer a chance to make new friends.
Jonas Bartle, coordinator of the Y:Women Can initiative, said: “Sport England did some research with women aged 14 to 40, who wanted to participate in sport, but felt uncomfortable about it, particularly in front of men. Those were the main reasons behind them not doing exercise and sport.
“So we have started up classes and sessions for women – some are free, some reduced rate. The aim is to make it easier for women to take part in classes and sessions, to remove some of the barriers.
“There’s lots of benefits for women of taking part in fitness classes or swimming, running or cycling.
“Obviously, it helps improve fitness and all the health benefits that brings. They also get to meet new people and make new friends. We hope through making new friends at the gym, women might then start to go to the gym or go to classes more.
“As well as the sessions on offer, women can just come to have a tea or coffee, or a chat with me.
“The idea is to build up confidence. And it’s about inspiring and engaging with women.”
And what about the response Jonas gets, as a man, from women interested in taking part? The feedback has been really positive. We’ve had some great comments from women who have taken part in the sessions so far about how friendly everyone at is and how they felt at ease and enjoyed it.
“I always try to take a friendly approach, to help put people at ease.”
Search on Facebook for Y Women Can Fylde, see twitter.com/Ywomencan or visit ymcayactive.org/fitness-lifestyle/ywomen-can