Research has found that many women cite personal safety concerns as one of the reasons they may be reluctant to be active in gyms and leisure centres, with two thirds of women who had attended a facility saying they had taken some measure to protect themselves from sexual harassment in a fitness or leisure centre.
By improving feelings of safety and inclusion, This Girl Can, ukactive and CIMSPA hope to increase participation of women in leisure settings more broadly and, therefore, continue working towards closing the persistent gender gap in activity levels.
Steve Scales, director of membership and sector development for ukactive, said it was great to secure this additional investment into the fitness and leisure sector.
“The work of this project will not only positively impact women and girls visiting facilities, but others too, as we continue to grow and draw people from more diverse backgrounds – becoming a fully inclusive environment for everyone to feel safe, empowered and comfortable while enjoying the benefits of being active,” he added.
Tara Dillon, chief executive at CIMSPA, said it was important that women felt safe in gyms and leisure facilities.
“It’s crucial that, as a sector, we do everything we can to make sure gyms and leisure facilities are safe, welcoming and inclusive spaces for all women,” she explained. “This starts with training and education for the workforce; helping them to prevent, identify and deal with any instances of harassment. We are proud to be working on this important initiative alongside our partners at Sport England, This Girl Can and ukactive.”
This work follows last November’s joint publication of This Girl Can and ukactive’s guide to help fitness and leisure operators appeal to more women.
The ‘How to improve your services for women and girls: As told by the 51%’ guidance was based on extensive research and insight and highlighted that many women cited personal safety concerns as one of the reasons they might be reluctant to be active in gyms and leisure centres.
The guide has been downloaded more than 1,500 times by organisations within the fitness and leisure sector, with operators and providers already beginning to implement recommendations to help tackle this area of concern for women.