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This Girl Can launches new group exercise classes

Our award-winning campaign has teamed up with EMD UK to create sessions for women that are low intensity, fun and great for all fitness levels.

6th December 2021

This Girl Can is launching a new range of group exercise classes powered by the award-winning campaign.

Our national campaign, which encourages women to be active in any way that works for them, has teamed up with EMD UK – the national governing body for group exercise – to offer lower intensity, fun and supportive sessions for women who may otherwise not feel comfortable attending group exercise classes.

More than 1,500 people have registered their interest to train as class instructors and, with 21 major leisure operators already signed up – including Places Leisure and Mytime Active there will be more This Girl Can classes available across the country in 2022. 

Women enjoying working out together at a This Girl Can fitness class

The classes, that call on women to “Come and do your worst”, were also designed to be able to be used as part of social prescribing schemes in the future.

Tim Hollingsworth, our chief executive, said the concept was a fantastic opportunity to encourage more women to build physical activity into their lives.

“Despite the enormous progress we have made with supporting more women to get active in recent years, the gender gap for activity stubbornly persists,” he explained. 

“It’s never been more important; getting active boosts mental and physical health, helps manage anxiety and stress and creates social ties – but millions of women are missing out on these benefits.

“Providers were approaching Sport England to say that they felt that This Girl Can – with its ethos of fun and freedom from judgement, regardless of ability  – was the ideal brand and campaign to appeal to less active women who need their confidence built up.

“It’s an exciting moment for us and the fitness and physical activity sector, and we will support EMD UK to roll out This Girl Can classes all over the country by early next year.”

Providers were approaching Sport England to say that they felt that This Girl Can – with its ethos of fun and freedom from judgement, regardless of ability – was the ideal brand and campaign to appeal to less active women who need their confidence built up.

Tim Hollingsworth

Chief executive, Sport England

Group exercise classes are highly popular with women. They make up 84% of attendees in a leisure environment and fitness is the second most popular activity after walking for women to take part in.

However, research by EMD UK reveals that less active women often express fears of being judged in gym classes, of looking “stupid”, of not being able to keep up, fear of what others will think and being out of their depth in a group exercise setting.

Furthermore, a This Girl Can survey of more than 1,000 women earlier this year found that more than a third (38%) of women worry about not being fit enough, 28% worry about showing their body and almost a quarter (24%) worry that they aren’t good enough.

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has also made it more difficult for women to be active, with our latest Active Lives Adult Survey highlighting that women have been slower to return to activities since restrictions started to ease.

This Girl Can classes are designed to tackle these barriers, by offering a blended taster of different types of exercise and activities each week, such as dance fitness, boxing, and yoga-inspired stretch. The classes are gentle and low-intensity so that all women feel able to take part, which supports women to decide what they enjoy and what style of activity works best for them, regardless of fitness levels and experience.

Class instructors are trained to create a warm, fun and non-judgemental environment and build confidence to help women move onto other classes when they feel they’re ready.

This means that This Girl Can classes continue to be for women who are new to getting active and want similar things from a class experience.

Shelley Meyern, head of operations and projects at EMD UK, says this has been a brilliant project to work on due to the enthusiasm and appetite from operators, instructors and the women that the classes have been designed for.

“From the physical and mental benefits that being active can bring, to the social connections we can make, every woman deserves to feel the benefits of getting active.

“At a This Girl Can class you can be reassured that there are no wrong moves, and everyone can take it at their own pace. We want women to come and do their worst.”

Huw Edwards, chief executive of ukactive, says his organisation is looking forward to working with the campaign in 2022. 

 “We know how popular group exercise classes are among women and girls, acting as a driving force for female participation in physical activity," he said.

"As the UK’s membership body for gyms, pools and leisure centres, we want to help our sector to reach even more women and reduce the barriers they face. Following our collaboration with This Girl Can on a new guide for gyms and leisure facilities to improve their services for women, we are looking forward to working with the campaign and our partners on this exciting programme of This Girl Can classes in 2022.”


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