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Mon 7 Mar, 2022

International Women’s Day – Our Own Story

Happy International Women’s Day!

Written by Connie Summerfield

As Simply Gym’s latest recruit in the marketing department and a long-term member, I thought I’d share with you and celebrate my personal fitness journey to inspire more women to get into the gym and get fit.

We all start somewhere and my journey into fitness really began at home. I was never really a ‘sporty’ child; I dabbled in various physical activities for a time before moving on to the next. No one sport stuck with me. I found team sports intimidating and back in school I thought that the gym was ‘for boys’. I had never actually joined a gym until I moved to Cheltenham for university back in 2015.

Throughout university I rekindled a love for Trampolining, which despite having people watch you and only you, felt less judgemental. Even so I was still too apprehensive about the types of people who attended gyms, what they’d think of me and how little I knew of what I was doing, to go to one. I needed to improve my core strength and fitness to improve my trampolining which is when I decided to take up home workouts, HIIT and running – the perfect solution to avoid feeling the judgement of onlookers in a gym.

It wasn’t until a friend told me all about the various weight machines and free-weight equipment that could help me increase strength in certain areas of my body that I decided to try it. I never really liked my appearance despite working out in the comfort of my own home. I began by doing my usual home workouts or HIIT with the addition of weights in the ladies only section of Simply Gym.

Eventually I built up the confidence to start exploring pieces of kit that I’d not used before. It was nerve-wracking at first because I didn’t know how to adjust the machines let alone what the correct form was. However, having a selection of weights in a ladies only gym allowed me to improve my knowledge and strength in a judgement-free zone.

There wasn’t long before I improved my body image and self-confidence so much that I didn’t think to use the ladies gym anymore. Of course there were exceptions to this when it came to thrusting exercises, where maintaining eye-contact with a wall was vital.

During lockdown it actually became harder to workout at home, not for the reduction of equipment that was available but for the fact that my housemates would be around. I had a fear that they might judge my workouts even if I knew what I was doing now. I chose to do them at times when they’d be at work or I’d give them warning I was taking over the living room so they wouldn’t come in.

Of course that’s when I realised it wasn’t about my appearance anymore – because I was actively working on that. It was about my mindset, which working out in a safe space like the ladies gym meant I was changing.

Skip to the present day and I’m proud of the work I do in the gym, main or ladies section. I don’t really care who’s watching and much less what they think, because working on your fitness is for yourself and that’s what matters.

My mindset is so much more positive now and I feel included in the community that the gym has created. I’ve made friends who I can chat to between sets, I’ve trained with friends, encouraged my non-gym friends to try it, shared my body image and workouts more openly to the fitness community. I’m even approached by regular and new members who compliment my strength, motivation or have encouragement.

It’s now become so important to me that other women feel comfortable in a gym environment, as the benefits of improving our fitness and taking care of our mental health go beyond the scales or what you see in the mirror.

So to celebrate International Women’s Day here’s more women who’ve found the ladies only section in Simply Gym as massive an impact as I have!

Find your nearest Simply Gym with a Ladies Only Section here…