A recent report by the WSFF has found that thanks to London 2012, 41% of women have been inspired to become more active. Seeing the escapades of Jessica Ennis, Lizzie Armistead and Nicola Adams over the last few weeks has encouraged women to follow in the superstars’s footsteps and get down to their local sports centre. This is of course great, with stats to show that 80% of women are not being active enough to remain healthy any influx of enthusiasm is amazing, however the big question now is how do you encourage these 41% to follow through on their statements? When the Olympic banners come down, the gold medallist who stole the headlines for two weeks disappear back into obscurity and the winter sets in, how can you make sure that women don’t disappear off the fields again?
Firstly, not letting the Olympic athletes vanish back into obscurity would definitely be a great way to start and keep up the levels of enthusiasm. I’m not suggesting having their images splashed across every weekly magazine and turning them into part of the freak show that is our tabloid press, (I can see the headlines now – ‘RING OF SHAME Look at Jess Ennis/Nicola Adams/Laura Trott’s sweat stains (whilst she trains for her chosen sport)’), but instead having magazines feature regular fitness and health columns and articles written/ghost written by the athletes.
We have a very strange attitude to sport and exercise in this country. Any magazine you pick up will tell you the best way to get a bum like J-Lo’s, legs like Blake Lively and arms like some starlet that has nice arms. Recently, in light of the Olympics, I even saw a magazine promising that you too could get a stomach like Ennis in only six weeks. I’m pretty sure Jess didn’t get her stomach in six weeks and instead developed it after months of intense training, but there you go. So we have every guide under the sun to honing and toning every area of the female anatomy, but never once do the magazines then encourage the reader to put their toned legs, bum, arms and abs into practice in any other way than donning a fab new dress and heels to get ALL THE BOYS when they head out. We are obsessed with looking good, but although this can boost your confidence, what other benefits really come out of looking pretty apart from the superficial? The WSFF has found that women who participate in regular exercise not only look good in the fab new dress and feel more confident, have more energy and feel better prepared to face challenges in life, to say nothing of the fact that they are physically healthier, but never does a fitness article end with –‘now why don’t you go outside and join your local netball club?’ Now, maybe it’s just me, but I’d say these were all good things and that by having positive sporting role models in the media to promote such benefits would probably keep up the interest for sport that the Olympics has left Great Britain’s women with. Or, we could just ignore the physical and psychological benefits and continue to listen to a Kardashian (don’t ask me which one, they’re interchangeable) rave on about her intense new work out to fit into new jeans….*yawn*
Secondly now would be the time for governments and area councils to sort out and promote the sporting facilities available to people in their areas. Events such as the ‘Join In UK’ weekend that ran on 18th/19th August were a huge success and encouraged people to get involved, so get on the band wagon my council/governmenty friends – the enthusiasm is there, it just needs direction. Having clearer pages on council websites to direct its citizens to sports clubs would be useful, as well as promotion work that the site offers this service which would be very good start. A slightly larger investment in publicising pages like this, as well as a clear layout of what the clubs are, their ability level and involvement would go a very long way.
Image from http://community.peace-sport.org/article/view/55/ (thanks!)