By David Saunders, Health Editor
In its continued commitment to inspire more women to engage in physical activity, the This Girl Can campaign has partnered with EMD UK, the national governing body for group exercise, to create a brand new class concept. The project is aimed at instilling a sustainable change in behaviour among less active women, to improve their health and happiness.
Taking inspiration from This Girl Can, the new class concept will aim to break down the emotional barriers women face when considering group exercise by ensuring they are friendly, low intensity and non-judgemental.
They will be marketed in a way that appeals to less active, less confident women – a group that have not previously been targeted by most well-known fitness class brands, who tend to be more “aspirational” in their marketing approach.
The initiative will also look at ways to improve the overall consumer journey for women when accessing group exercise in leisure centres with a special focus on easing and improving the digital experience to encourage more women to sign up and turn up.
In addition to the wider campaign, This Girl Can has an increased financial and resource focus towards improving and increasing the “on the ground” options available to women as well as refining the way these activities are marketed to them.
The partnership between This Girl Can and EMD UK will focus on introducing group exercise to women who previously hadn’t had the confidence to go or have had a bad experience when attending. The project is funded by Sport England as part of their This Girl Can Activation Strand.
There are nearly five million people taking part in group exercise every week, an increase of one million since 2016 . Aside from walking for leisure it is the most popular form of exercise for women to take part in (Active Lives Survey, Oct, 2018).
Participants have cited they enjoy taking part in group exercise classes because they are non-competitive and you don’t have to be fit to start , making group exercise a widely accessible sport for women who are inactive or less active.
This pilot will take place at selected Everyone Active and Places Leisure sites. Due to the classes taking part in leisure centres, staff and instructors will be up-skilled to improve their approach and empathy towards less active women as well as training them up on new class concept.
Emma Forward, Chief Operating Officer for EMD UK, said “We are delighted to be working with This Girl Can on a new class concept. First impressions are everything; with 78% of group exercise classes taking place in private gyms or leisure centres, it’s incredibly important that centres offer the best possible experience, both inside and outside the exercise class.
We’re looking forward to working on the project and encouraging even more women into regular physical activity.”
The participant journey begins before they even walk through the door and doesn’t end until they have gone home and reflected on their class. The first and last points of contact are key to ensuring customers have the best possible experience and want to return.
EMD UK will work with leisure operators to improve their consumer journey , including the initial contact with the customer, class marketing and imagery, online class information, email communications and the follow up customers receive. This consumer journey initiative is intended to be beneficial for all group exercise customers and prospects – not just less active women.
Frances Drury, Activation Manager for This Girl Can, said “Group exercise was an obvious area for Sport England to focus on. We identified, through focus groups, that a large number of less active women had often had a poor experience at a fitness class, despite having the will to go, which had put them off returning.
This Girl Can therefore felt there was something we could do in this space, in partnership with EMD UK, who had already identified this gap in the market and run some pilot fitness classes for less active women as a result. We’re looking forward to bringing the inclusive and non-judgemental attitude of This Girl Can to group exercise in order to encourage more women to give it a go.”
Sport England are delighted that EMD UK will be heading up this project in partnership with leisure operators that have come on board and look forward to seeing how this initiative will improve the sport and exercise landscape for women.”
EMD UK and This Girl Can are currently creating the class concept, with an aim to launch the pilot programme in January 2020.
For more information on the work of This Girl Can, please visit www.thisgirlcan.co.uk
For more information on the work of EMD UK, please visit www.emduk.org