Get Active: Newham female sports programme shows ‘Us Girls’ can

Madelaine Mattis with her daughter, Jamin (left)

Madelaine Mattis with her daughter, Jamin (left) - Credit: Archant

Chances are you’ve spotted posters of girls giving it their all on exercise bikes triumphantly plastered around London.

Images from the This Girl Can campaign

Images from the This Girl Can campaign - Credit: Archant

This is all part of the national This Girl Can campaign to inspire women “who wiggle” to work out without the judgement barrier.

But, closer to home, Newham has a programme of its own aimed at encouraging women to get active.

The latest Active People survey showed 71 per cent of girls in the borough are inactive compared to 56pc across the capital.

So activeNewham’s Us Girls programme has been working hard over the past four years to help close the gap by providing cheap, fun activities delivered by female instructors.

Images from the This Girl Can campaign

Images from the This Girl Can campaign - Credit: Archant

Two Us Girls participants who have been with the programme since the start are mum and daughter Madeleine Mattis, 42, and Jasmin Joseph, 18, pictured right.

Jasmin said: “I started attending the sessions because I wanted to get fit while doing activities in a motivating and energetic atmosphere.

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“It was also a good way to spend some time with my mum doing something we both enjoy.”

She said she’s made new friends, grown in confidence and feels better about herself since beginning the programme.

Madeleine, added: “I was thinking about starting some exercise classes but wasn’t sure what to do as I was very overweight and nervous to use the gym.

“A friend at work was putting a few leaflets in the staff room advertising fun, free and girls-only sports and activities – these sessions sounded perfect for me and it was something I could also do with my daughter.

“Since attending the sessions I feel much better in myself, my health has improved and I started to notice I was losing weight and I was pleased with what I had accomplished.”

Initially the pair joined the BoxFit sessions but have tried a number of the activities on offer since.

Sessions include zumba, Pilates, skipping, hula hooping, BoxFit, Athletefit, fitness, netball and more.

According to Sport England, the organisation behind the This Girl Can campaign, women are less likely than men to become active because of body image and competency fears.

The campaign is a celebration of women who get active no matter how well they do it, how they look or how red their faces get.

activeNewham hopes it will increase the numbers of women and girls attending their female-only sessions.

Newham’s Us Girls programme manager Nicole Napier, from activeNewham was recently shortlisted for the 2014 Sunday Times and Sky Sports Sportswomen of the Year Awards.

She said: “Our programme continues to go from strength to strength,with more and more activities being added on a regular basis. We try to provide as many different activities as possible in an attempt to inspire lots of girls and women to take part.

“The This Girl Can campaign is a fantastic marketing tool which will help to raise the profile of Newham’s Us Girls programme further.

“A number of the women I have spoken to have been really positive about the new initiative. It’s great to see female participation high up on the sports agenda.”

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