Stories from Sweat in the City - Sue Tibballs


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  • Don’t like their bodies (63%) Worry how they look to others (67%) They worry how they look to others – particularly people they know and worry that men are watching them For some women, weight loss is a motivation, but for others, if this isnt important
  • We removed time and cost – two barriers often cited by women for not taking part in activity. We wanted to give them an opportunity to exercise in a supported environment that might encourage them to stay active as well as learn from the women about barriers, motivations and to gain insight into what will encourage them to stay.
  • Expected the other women to be like them ‘enjoying watching SiTC with a glass of wine!’
  • Transition from school to work
  • Increased confidence in the gym Prior to starting programme 25% felt gyms were not for me, after the programme this had declined to 13% “ I was slightly nervous, when it comes to gyms I am scared of being surrounded by a million and one super-fit people ...So yesterday was a revelation - the gym isn't scary!” “ I was rather nervous and did feel like a lot of people were staring at first! But … I realized they were too busy thinking of themselves to notice me…!” Increased body confidence Prior to starting the programme almost seven in ten women (67%) admitted that they didn’t like their bodies. Post the programme, this had declined to half (51%) “ Am more confident feel better about myself. I am now a size 10!!! I dropped a dress size!” “ I've been about 4 times now and have started to notice the difference already! I feel more toned and confident about my body” Self-consciousness lessened Two-thirds of participants told us they were worried about what they looked like while they were exercising. Post the programme just under half of the women admitted the same The power of exercise - feel good factor - Mental benefits as opposed to physical ” I left the gym on many days feeling much better and confident about myself - something that was really life changing” The surprise benefits Giving up smoking and sleeping better Fostered other active behaviours Eating habits and active commuting “ I have noticed that I’m sleeping really deeply and dreaming a lot more than I ever used to. I like the way it makes me feel in myself, the energy I have, the positive frame of mind it puts me in…”
  • Women who mostly worked out with a friend were slightly more likely to stay with the gym that they signed up to, which may help them to stay motivated.
  • What would the ideal gym experience be? While a gym has to be able to meet a variety of needs, SiTC found some core requirements common to most women: cost will always be a barrier to those recently into work or students or low incomes. Prices need to be competitive with other expenses that they have (clothes, rent, train alcohol, food, socialising). Offering flexibility in the pricing and without year-long tie ins will help encourage women to take up membership. That said, money is only one aspect of the experience. Other elements come into play when looking to encourage sustainable, frequent and enjoyable attendance: having clean changing rooms with doors that lock are a basic requirement that should not be underestimated. However, it does not hurt to go that one step further and try to recreate the luxury of a spa where it becomes a pleasure to hang out. Hair straighteners, hair dryers, dressing gowns, magazines are all elements of these.
  • Stories from Sweat in the City - Sue Tibballs

    1. 1. Stories from Sweat in the City Sue Tibballs CEO, Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation
    2. 2. WSFF overview <ul><li>Unique UK charity, funded by Government & private sponsorship </li></ul><ul><li>Exists to increase the health, fitness and well-being of women and girls by making physical activity an integral part of their daily lives </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders in insight & innovation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Launched first national strategy to “Create a Nation of Active Women” with Secretary of State (July ‘08) </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Crisis! <ul><li>Young women are half as active as young men </li></ul><ul><li>Women feel greater cultural pressure to be thin than healthy </li></ul><ul><li>40% of girls feel self-conscious about their bodies in PE lessons </li></ul><ul><li>A quarter of women say that PE at school put them off sport for life </li></ul><ul><li>No real change in participation levels in last 20 years </li></ul><ul><li>* WSFF “It’s Time” 2007 </li></ul>
    4. 4. Why was this programme important? the audience <ul><li>Just 23% of 16-24 year old women in London do enough activity to benefit their health </li></ul><ul><li>Low income/students </li></ul><ul><li>Suffer low self-esteem/body confidence issues </li></ul><ul><li>“ I haven’t been happy with myself for a while now because of the way I look and the way other people look at me.” </li></ul><ul><li>Low self efficacy </li></ul><ul><li>Negative expectations of exercise </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Gyms are not for them (25%) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Previous experience from school PE </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Need more positive reinforcement and support </li></ul>
    5. 5. Programme overview <ul><li>Partnership FIA and private (58%), public (34%) and charity (8%) gym networks </li></ul><ul><li>Open to inactive 16 to 24 year-old women in London </li></ul><ul><li>3 months free gym membership </li></ul><ul><li>2,200 places available at 101 gyms across 31 boroughs </li></ul><ul><li>Welcome induction and group sessions at gym </li></ul><ul><li>Mentor maintained contact via e-mail </li></ul><ul><li>Connected to each other via an on-line social network </li></ul>
    6. 6. Bespoke Brand <ul><li>Created a brand that would immediately engage the young women we wanted to attract </li></ul><ul><li>From its look and feel, to the language used; Sweat in the City designed to be lively, fun, feminine </li></ul><ul><li>Built on the fame and popularity of TV series and film Sex and the City </li></ul>
    7. 8. Innovative marketing <ul><li>Targeted communications; traditional media supported by digital and ‘on the ground’ marketing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Launch release and images to national and London media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Partnership with Bebo </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Text messaging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recruitment session @ TopShop </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flyers and posters in London boroughs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Content strengthened by involvement of celebrity ambassadors Jessica Taylor and Carly Zucker </li></ul><ul><li>Reach of 75 million people achieved </li></ul>
    8. 11. Motivation <ul><li>What persuaded young women to join up? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>wanted to improve their bodies (tone up, lose weight) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I used to be a svelte size 10 throughout school, with a keen interest in sport, I went downhill as often does with teenage girls. I stopped doing sport and lost my figure.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>wanted to get fitter </li></ul></ul>
    9. 12. The difference SitC made <ul><li>Increased confidence about using a gym </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prior to starting programme 25% felt gyms were not for me, after the programme this had declined to 13% </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Increased body confidence/self esteem </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prior to starting the programme almost seven in ten women (67%) admitted that they didn’t like their bodies. Post the programme, this had declined to half (51%) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The power of exercise – the feel good factor </li></ul><ul><li>The surprise benefits – eating and sleeping better </li></ul><ul><li>But needs to be designed & delivered to meet audience need </li></ul>
    10. 13. Retention… <ul><li>Around 86% said they would continue to be active, with over half saying they would continue to use a gym </li></ul><ul><li>Up to 25% of the women who attended their gyms had taken up a gym membership </li></ul><ul><li>“ I think the deal my gym has seems to be quite good so I'm definitely going to look at joining up. I'm quite fond of going and I think I'd really be lost without it now!” </li></ul>
    11. 14. Exit routes to sport <ul><li>Increased willingness to try new activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An incredible 88% of participants agreed that ‘ SitC has reminded me how good it feels to be active’. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The women have been offered tasters in rowing, tennis, boxing, bowls, fencing and softball </li></ul></ul>
    12. 15. The perfect experience? <ul><li>Flexibility of pricing </li></ul><ul><li>Approachable and informed staff </li></ul><ul><li>Effective induction and continued training </li></ul><ul><li>Someone to exercise with </li></ul><ul><li>Space </li></ul><ul><li>Spa-like environment </li></ul>
    13. 16. Issues SitC failed to tackle <ul><li>Initial great enthusiasm </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Followed by a reality check </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expected immediate results </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Intimidated by the new experience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Poor first visit = few return </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hard to get out of comfort zone </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sharing a space with men </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Domination particularly of some areas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inappropriate comments </li></ul></ul>
    14. 17. Successes <ul><li>Shortlisted for two awards – Sport Business Awards and CIPR Awards </li></ul><ul><li>Celebration event in May 09 at adidas Performance Store </li></ul><ul><li>A final report to be produced in summer 09 </li></ul>
    15. 18. The last word <ul><li>In response to ‘What has Sweat in the City meant to you?’ </li></ul><ul><li>At first, I was afraid. I was petrified. </li></ul><ul><li>Kept thinking I'd fall off the belt before I found my stride </li></ul><ul><li>I thought the weights would crush me down if I ever set them wrong, </li></ul><ul><li>But I grew strong, </li></ul><ul><li>And slowed the pounds that I put on </li></ul><ul><li>So go on, go - walk out the door! </li></ul><ul><li>Go to the gym now! Gotta work out a little more! </li></ul><ul><li>I'm so upset that I must bid this scheme goodbye, </li></ul><ul><li>Will I now stumble? Will my new fit bug take a dive? </li></ul><ul><li>No it can't die, it will survive! </li></ul><ul><li>All these endorphins that I get from sport, they make me feel alive </li></ul><ul><li>I've got all my life to live, gotta keep being active </li></ul><ul><li>So I will strive, yes I will strive... </li></ul>