I don't often mention a project before I've gotten properly involved but this one is too good not to.
I'm a super excited to be working with Vitality UK on their latest initiative with Women In Sport to encourage women to become more involved in sport.
Women In Sport - My View
As you may or may not know although I am totally for equal opportunities I am quite anti-feminist, I don't believe women should be treated differently just because they are women. However, that doesn't mean I don't think that women and men should be marketed to differently, of course I believe in that, just in the same way that you would market a product differently to different age groups. Men and women respond to different types of marketing. WIS have the hard job of trying to market sport to women and tackle the concerns of women: what they look like, what they feel like and what they think other women will think about them when they play. Whatever anyone's views on feminism, we can all agree that the above are real barriers to fitness for women. Sadly a lot of women are put off sport because they feel awkward about the whole thing.
I get that. You might think "yeah right, she's sporty, what does she know?" Well actually I really do know what it feels like to worry about whether you'll fit in, worry whether anyone will speak to you when you get there, worry whether you'll be any good, worry whether you'll do or say something really embarrassing, worried whether the other women will talk about you after you've left. I grew up in an all girls school which had one of the most toxic atmospheres for girls just being mean to one another. I'm not sure looking back now whether the girls were jealous of each other or whether we all just learnt from each other.
But what if we could leave all of that behind? What if we could force ourselves to step out of our comfort zone?
Okay I will admit that luckily for me I was sporty at school but I was really hit or miss. I remember getting smashed in the face by a netball and all of the girls laughing or boys on the bus on the way home from school shouting "catch" and throwing something at me and me missing it and everyone laughing. I'm not sure I know anyone who loved PE at school (apart from rounders obviously) we all felt pretty awkward and didn't want to get too sweaty. No-one wanted to be too good or too rubbish, we all just wanted to blend in and years of PE outside in all weathers in not many clothes is enough to put anyone off sport for life.
But what if we could leave all of that behind? What if we could force ourselves to step out of our comfort zone? To put our big girl pants on and go out and join a new team, playing a new sport?! What if in doing so we would actually realise that we weren't that terrible at sport after all and that actually it was sort of kind of fun. That when running around catching, kicking, throwing, hitting a ball is teamed with laughter (and a drink at the pub afterwards) we realise that exercise isn't all that bad after all.
Well in the run up to Christmas I'm joining a local sports team in my area with the aim of motivating, inspiring, persuading other women to give sport a go. Am I nervous? Hell yes! I haven't played hockey since Year 9 at school. I didn't mention it was hockey did I? There was the option to play netball, hockey, football or rugby. I could have gone for netball. I was in the B team at school and played whilst I lived in Newcastle, for my previous firm when I moved to London and was just awarded Player of The Tournament at a recent firm match (believe me I was hugely embarrassed and as surprised as you are) I chose to play hockey because I wanted this to be a real test, to show anyone reading this that it's just as scary for me too. I'm also worried that people will think I'll be good, I haven't got a clue and don't even own shin pads or a gym shield . To go one step further I've not opted for a London club which sees regular beginners, nope, I'm training with a local club near my new home in the country where the ladies have probably known each other for years, are really great sports women and have tonnes of in jokes. Why am I doing this again? Oh yes, because if I manage to inspire one woman reading this to give sport a go, heck if I inspire someone to go root out their trainers and go for a run and get that adrenal rush from getting active then it will be worthwhile. (I also have a secret dream that I'm going to really love the hockey team, meet some new ladies in my local area (I still don't know many people yet) and that I'll find friends for life)
I'll keep you posted on how I get on but in the meantime for more details of how you can get involved click here and you'll find all of the information about the initiative.
ps. this photo is me on the track in the Olympic Park, London. I don't have any photos of me playing hockey, yet. I was so happy and excited to get the opportunity to run on the same track as the Olympic legends. Sport gives you opportunities to do the most incredible things.