Women in Sport

Inspiring the next generation

As the summer months carry on, we all tend to flock outside in true British fashion. Whether it’s to stroll the countryside with family, visit the coast for a refreshing dip or join friends for a game of sport.

Whilst activity is enjoyed all year round, summer tends to put more attention on outdoor sports – but unfortunately there still seems to be a weighting of genders when it comes to those who do it or more importantly, why they do it.

Sport England outlined that “39% of women aged 16 and over are not active enough to get the full health benefits of sport and activity, compared to 35% of men”. Whilst this seems like a slim gap, the contrasting reasons for engaging in sport or physical activity outline the systemic issues that are still prominent. For example, 82% of men engage in sport or physical activity for fun, to be with friends or to improve physical performance, whilst 67% of women do it as they are concerned with controlling their weight, improving their physical appearance or want to counteract the effects of ageing. Furthermore, “men are twice more likely than women to be members of a sport club (16% vs. 8%)”.

At Places Leisure, we believe in equality. We want to encourage everyone to feel comfortable engaging in physical activity and sport in whichever way best suits them. That’s why we constantly strive to close the gender gap and bring more women to our centres to engage in activity and sport for the same reasons men do!

In 2015 we joined forces with This Girl Can to encourage women to break the stigma by getting active in whichever way suits you, unapologetically. We have worked alongside them to build programmes that offer likeminded women a comfortable setting to try out whatever classes, sports and activities that interest them - where getting it wrong is totally alright!

More recently, we have teamed up with Women In Sport and Hey Girls to deliver the Big Sister Project in order to make a commitment to young girls around the country to help them achieve their goals. Read more about it including what it offers and how to get involved here.

Our centres are made to be a Place for everyone.

Fear of judgement or simply don’t know where to start?

Our fitness instructors are here to guide you. Each one of our members benefits from a bespoke training plan inside the gym that will give you confidence in what you are doing and set you on track to achieve what you want to. We’re here to help you every step of the way!

Ask a member of staff to show you the ropes and we’ll give you the support you need – whether it’s finding your way around the pool or getting you familiar with the dreaded weight-section when the gym is at its quietest.

Click here to find your nearest centre and get involved – because you can!

If you’re looking for inspiration, we have rounded up four very important women who are considered icons in their sporting field. As we strive to close the gender gap in physical activity and sport, it’s women like these that play a vital role in inspiring generations to come.

Keep scrolling to read more about their journeys within the industry!

Gemma Upfold

Kickboxing World Champion, European Kickboxing Champion, and 10-time British Champion

Gemma’s sporting journey started at seven years old when she attended a holiday camp, and they did a half-hour kickboxing taster. She rushed home that day to tell her mum that’s what she really wanted to do with her life, and she’s never looked back…

At her peak she was training 15-17 hours a week and was travelling the world for competitions.  She’s covered pretty much the whole of Europe and some of America, but her favourite place was always Italy, because of the pizza!

Her favourite memory from her sporting journey was winning the World Championship in Budapest in 2017. “It had been my main goal since I was really young, so to finally achieve it was the best thing.  On the flip side, the hardest thing was coming back from losses and having to remind yourself why you are doing it.”

Although now retired from international sport, Gemma has continued with a passion for fitness and shares this with clients through her fitness instructing and personal training at Places Leisure. 

Gemma Upfold

Jade Lally

Eight-time British Discus Champion, Commonwealth Bronze Discuss Champion and Olympic Discus Thrower

Jade started her early sports career working and training at one of our centres in the south. As a fitness instructor and personal trainer, she was always keen to share her knowledge to help get the best results for her clients.

Jade spent a lot of time giving back to her local community attending sporting awards ceremonies for local children and giving talks in local schools on the importance of health and fitness and inspiring young children to get into sport at our centres.

Jade tells a lovely story about how she first got into discus at her local athletics club by trying the “throwing plates” discipline. After years of practice, she is now regularly throwing plates over 60 metres!

She has just won silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games!

Jade Lally

Faye White, MBE

Former England Lionesses Captain, six-time UEFA Women’s Champions League Winner, nine-time FA Women’s Cup Winner, ten-time FA Women’s Premier League Winner, English Football Hall of Fame holder and Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

After a few years of joining football training sessions with her brother at aged 10, Faye’s football trajectory took off once she joined and amazed at Horsham Ladies. It didn’t take long for her to be noticed and called up to play internationally at just 16 years old. After five years at the Lionesses, Faye was made captain and kept the title for a decade until her retirement in 2012.

With a career that leaves her with a collection of 31 trophies, it’s no surprise that she went on to become an English Football Hall of Fame holder and Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).  

She remains an inspiration and role-model to all – particularly to girls both young and old looking to get started or progress in a career in football, or just participate for fun.

Faye White

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