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Source: https://www.sportengland.org/news/five-ways-make-gyms-and-swimming-pools-more-accessible-women

24th August 2020

This Girl Can is calling on activity providers to make simple changes following the results of a survey.

The campaign has published the results of a new survey, a month after sports centres were able to reopen following coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions being eased.

Yet while 87% of the This Girl Can community feel safe to return with anti-coronavirus measures in place, just 27% have visited a gym since they were allowed to reopen on 25 July, with even fewer having visited a swimming pool (13%).


The research revealed other reasons that could be putting women off, with 51% reporting feeling intimidated or judged when they are at a gym or fitness class.

A quarter of women (27%) felt the same when visiting a swimming pool, with the majority (73%) saying they didn’t feel comfortable in their swimwear.

To combat these concerns, This Girl Can asked women what they would like to see introduced to help make them feel more welcome and encouraged to visit.

The top five answers were:

  • A discreet offer from staff to help with equipment (48%)
  • A code of conduct in the weights room like time limits and re-racking heavy weights after use (36%)
  • Hooks by the pool to hang towels to restrict time walking in swimming costume (44%)
  • Women’s only areas/dedicated swim time for women (36%)
  • Fewer full-length mirrors (21%).

As a result of these findings, the campaign is calling on organisations in the fitness industry to start making small changes like these to help women get back to exercise.

Kate Dale, our campaign lead for This Girl Can, said it was clear the pandemic was not the only obstacle to women getting active.

“We’ve known for a while that many women feel intimidated or a sense of judgement when they are exercising in public spaces like gyms and pools, which is a major barrier to them getting active,” she added.

“We’re hearing from women that a lot of the measures being introduced already in gyms and pools to help with the pandemic, such as advanced booking systems to limit numbers and social distancing, are already easing some of those fears of judgement because, for example, they can see how many people are going to be in the pool in advance of the session.

“But many women have frozen or given up their membership and have found alternative ways of getting active. If the fitness industry wants to bring female customers back, or attract new ones, they need to make the changes women have been asking for, for years, or risk losing them as customers forever.”

The findings in this story are from an online survey of 348 women conducted by This Girl Can earlier this month.

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