Free women’s exercise programme boosts confidence

This Girl Can
(L - R) Jo Norton, health inequalities co-ordinator at Warrington Borough Council, Rebecca Worswick, activities support officer at LiveWire, Marie Hall, Amanda Jolley and Catriona Sudlow, physical activity and inclusion manager at LiveWire.
Published: Thursday, 12th April 2018

Two Warrington women who have taken part in a ‘life-changing’ free exercise programme are encouraging females to get more active.

Marie Hall, from Orford and Amanda Jolley from Latchford regained their confidence to participate in physical activity thanks to Sport England’s This Girl Can initiative, run in Warrington by Warrington Borough Council and LiveWire.

Marie, 40, signed up for the course in January 2017 and again this year, as she did not feel she had the confidence to exercise on her own.

The programme has given her the opportunity to try new activities in a relaxed, non-judgemental environment, she said: “The programme has helped me immensely in getting active and becoming more fit. Before I signed up I hadn’t ever done any exercise – I’d never even run for a bus! The project in came at the right time for me and I decided to sign up with my friend Amanda. We enjoyed joining in with the group, experiencing new activities and all the fun that came with it.

“Since the programme ended, I have had the confidence to go out and try lots of different activities like learning to swim, taking part in a beginner’s triathlon and a variety of other sporting events including the Warrington half marathon. I also did open water swimming for the first time which was a big achievement for me considering I couldn’t swim before I took part in the programme. I decided to sign up again this year as it gave me the bug for exercising and I want to encourage others to make the same journey as me. The staff from the council and LiveWire are all very encouraging and can help you get back on track if you have a bit of a dip in confidence.”

The 10 week course encouraged women who considered themselves to be ‘inactive’ to take part in a variety of activities they never thought possible without the pressure of weight loss, fitness testing or competition.

Activities included belly dancing, golf, archery, Pilates, Zumba, yoga and much more – all free of charge over the course of the programme. Participants were then offered the chance to continue with the progress they’ve made by being signposted to relevant activities across the borough.

Amanda, 47, signed up for the programme in a bid to get fitter and healthier, she said: “I signed up for This Girl Can after making the decision to become more active. I had done exercise before when I was in the army but since having children and injuring my back, I hadn’t done much and had got lazy. Like Marie, since last year’s programme ended I have taken part in many new activities and events and found my mojo again when it comes to exercising. I decided to sign up again this year as I think the whole concept of the programme is amazing as it gives normal women like us the chance to go out and exercise without being judged. It’s also helped me to become more confident to go and try out new things. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in activities I wouldn’t usually try and meeting new people.”

In the three years it’s been running, the Warrington This Girl Can programme has supported just over 200 women to challenge themselves to try something new and become more active. For many it has been a real turning point in their life, providing the opportunity to address issues with self-esteem, confidence and social anxiety.

A special event took place on Tuesday 10 April at LiveWire’s Orford Jubilee Neighbourhood Hub to celebrate the achievements of the 63 women who took part in the programme this year.