By Esme Hedley, Sci-Tech and Sport Sub-Editor
As part of the national campaign from Sport England, from 18-24 November the University of Bristol is hosting This Girl Can week. This is a week of free activities for anyone that identifies as woman regardless of sporting expertise or experience.
This Girl Can was launched in 2015 after Sport England identified a major gender gap in those who exercised. There were, on average, two million fewer women exercising regularly than men. Furthermore, it turned out that the UK ranked third in Europe for male participation in sport, in contrast to 19th for women.
Owing to the fact exercise is essential for good physical and mental health, there was clear evidence that work needed to be done to close this gap. This Girl Can was subsequently created to empower women to go out and exercise.
In 2018 The Guardian found that girls and young women, particularly those from lower income backgrounds and ethnic minorities, still did far less physical activity than is recommended, and less than their male peers.
Research shows that many women are put off taking part in physical activity due to a fear of judgement, about how they look when they exercise or on their ability. Multiple chats with my friends give truth to these statements; so often exercise is promoted as a way of dealing with stress or anxiety, but how do you exercise if going to the gym is itself a source of anxiety?
Events ran as part of This Girl Can focus on this issue by running sessions that are truly inclusive and accessible. I have attended a few myself and can safely say everyone is there only to have fun and get a bit red in the face!
The University has run successful This Girl Can events since 2016, and every year almost all the sessions become fully booked by the end of the week. The sports and activities range from kickboxing and weightlifting to swimming and ultimate frisbee, so there is something for everyone.
If you missed any of the club taster sessions at the start of the year, this is a great way to get involved, and there’s plenty of time before booking opens to grab a friend and persuade them to go with you.
The full timetable has now been announced and is available from the Sports, Exercise and Health web page.
Booking opened on Monday 11th November and getting in there early is recommended. Sessions will be held at the Indoor Sports Centre, the SU and Coombe Dingle Sports Complex.
Keep an eye out for the Gym Takeover, where for two hours women who regularly use the gym will be demonstrating the best way to lift weights and giving tips on how to use the equipment.
Which Girl Can? This Girl Can!— Bristol SU (@Bristol_SU) November 6, 2019
Keep an eye out for the release of our exclusive timetable of activities for female students (and staff!) with @BristolUniSport https://t.co/4DZ4zsMQZI pic.twitter.com/snW1gcF404
This is also a great chance to meet people and come away with a future gym buddy. More information can be found at http://www.bristol.ac.uk/sport/events/2019/tgc2019.html. For more women-only events held outside of university, check out the This Bristol Girl Can website.
Featured image: Bristol SU
Make sure you get involved this November - you may find something you really enjoy!