Thursday, 15 February 2018

"We want to change people’s attitude to make exercise like a part of their routine"

"Nothing is IMPOSSIBLE", "Never doubt, only believe"... are some of the inspirational quotes posted on the All Girls Can Instagram and they are perfect to define the spirit of this wonderful initiative, whose objective is "share our passion for getting active and encouraging and empowering others to do the same". Philippa Curphey and Eleanor Lestrange are the creators of this activity based in Surrey. They encourage and help people to run, cycling, walking... using the positive experience of group exercise. They tell us her lovely story in this interview. 

- How did the idea of All Girls Can arise? 

We are mum buddies and great friends who met 4 years ago at their kids nursery gates. Like many women our focus over the last few years had been family and work and as a result not doing any exercise at all. However a couple of years ago over a glass of wine we decided we had to adjust our priorities and make time for own health and fitness. 
After a slow start, our confidence grew and in 2016 decided to take on huge personal challenges. In April Philippa ran the London Marathon and in August Eleanor completed the 100-mile cycling challenge, The Prudential Ride London
Having experienced first hand the positive impact that exercise has on both mental and physical well-being, we now feel compelled to  share what we have learned and so we have put our enthusiasm and passion for sports to good use to create a new initiative ‘All Girls Can’.

'All Girls Can' celebrating the 'International Volunteer Day'.

What are the benefits of doing exercise in group?

We have seen first hand the improvements that group exercise has had on one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. There are so many benefits to exercising within a group, particularly if you are new to fitness. Our groups are so motivating and the ladies that participate in our sessions work as part of a team to reach their fitness goals always encouraging each other along the way. It is also a fun and very sociable way to meet like-minded people whilst getting fit - we have become a lifeline to many women.

- Is it true that you are happier when you practice a sport?

Yes there is no doubt - 100 percent! Fitness has made us happier, healthier, less stressed and way more energized. Our confidence has grown and those endorphins make us feel like anything is possible which not only has a positive effect on our lives but on our family’s lives too. 

- Do you think all girls (and people) can?

Yes! we want to emphasise that we are a totally inclusive club. Regardless of age, ability or gender we believe that everyone CAN! We actually encourage family participation in one of our running groups - we want mums, dads, kids and  grandparents to get involved- it’s a great way of bringing families and communities together. 
We have focused our initiative mainly on women however, as we have seen first-hand that sports participation rates among women and girls are much lower than men and evidence has shown that  women are significantly underrepresented in sports for reasons that we can help change. 

Eleanor and Philippa, creators of this sports initiative in Surrey.

What is the feedback you are receiving from the community?

We have had such a positive response from our community and we have been overwhelmed by the number of people who are coming forward to volunteer with our 'All Girls Can' groups which means that going forward we can reach out to other communities in the area. 

- What is the most difficult thing/fear/barrier to encourage women to start exercising?

The barriers can vary from financial issues, lack of confidence, the feeling of being judged to injury concerns - many women complain about how lack of time prevents them for exercising  due to prioritising family and work over their own well-being.
Our aim is to break down these barriers by creating free activity groups that are encouraging, inclusive and welcoming where women feel supported and comfortable enough to take their first steps in to exercise without fear of judgement or competition. 

- How can you motivate people who have a normal busy life (family, children, job, shopping...) to start doing sports?

We want to change people’s attitude towards fitness by encouraging women to make  exercise a part of their daily routine and making women realise that at times it is ok to prioritise yourself over family, work and other pressures that may otherwise hold them back from getting active.

Drew (Simply Sports) helping Eleanor choose a running trainers in Reigate.

- After you have started, how can you add the sport in your daily life to avoid quit it in a couple of  weeks? 

By  giving yourself a personal challenge or a sporting goal to aim for, this can really motivate an individual to keep returning in order train and improve performance. Some of our running ladies have already completed 5km runs and are now signing up for 10 mile races. 
By starting off your fitness regime gradually and taking small steps, you’ll find that it won’t impact on your daily life too much.  Even it is something small like taking one less car journey and walking instead - anything is better than nothing and you will reap the benefits very quickly.

- All Girls Can is focused now on running (All Girls Run) and cycling (All Girls Ride). Are you thinking in offering more sports?

Yes, we are launching our first walking group this month and we hope to get more ladies in to a swimming pool too!

(Pictures taken from All Girls Can UK)

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