With lockdown slowly lifting here in the UK, many of us are looking forward to getting back to normal. For a number of us this means the opportunity to get into a gym. However, many women find the prospect of going to a gym stressful, or just don’t have the motivation. We spoke to the owner of a women-only gym in North Devon called FitIn30 about why women benefit from being in an all-female environment and why women should feel motivated to go to the gym.
Why did you choose to open a women-only gym?
We met a mother (who was in her 70`s!) and daughter who were promoting their franchise-based, women-only gym at a Farmer`s Market. They were very enthusiastic and keen to share the principles of their new enterprise.
The idea of helping to change a woman`s body shape or improving their health and fitness with a personalised fitness programme, in as little as 12 weeks, with 3×30 mins workouts a week, was compelling. Women are busy people, with very little time for themselves, so it seemed (and is) very achievable. It was such a novel idea and clearly there was a need in N. Devon at that time.
This coincided with my disillusionment with teaching after nearly 30 years, which had become all-time consuming. So, I went into business with my partner and we are 8 years in so the need is still there!
Typically, who are you targeting with women-only gyms?
The majority of women would not consider going to a gym, so we cater for all women, whatever their age, shape or fitness level. Our youngest member is 18 and the eldest is now 84, but the majority are in their 30s-50s. We have members who have never exercised regularly in any way, women with medical conditions who need our higher levels of support and those who really like to push themselves and come every day.
Why do your clients prefer a women-only gym over a ’normal’ gym?
When we opened, something like 80% of women would never have thought to go to a gym. The main reason then, as now, is that they feel intimidated; they don`t feel they fit the perceived criteria which outwardly seems to be young, already in good shape and competitive. That`s shocking!
So, we created a friendly, safe, women-only gym with approachable female instructors, where it is not uncommon to have 3 generations of women all exercising at the same time and interacting.
There is nothing intimidating about Fitin30 Gym. Members can relax into their fitness session, knowing they are not being watched or judged. Our women often leave a session aching from laughter just as much as from their exercise!
We are just ordinary women trying to make the best of ourselves.
What types of exercise do you find the most beneficial?
The benefits go beyond improved fitness. Given the inexperience of most our members when they join, we tend to prescribe a 30 min session based on resistance training using low intensity weights. It is important to condition the body to regular exercise in a steady, controlled manner.
Regular reviews allow staff to monitor progress and make sure members continue to improve; some of our best results occur at the end of the first 12 weeks. That`s a huge motivator and confidence builder for the individual, as well as being confirmation of a job well done by the staff.
Do you offer any services outside of the gym premises to your clients?
This year has been rather challenging! However, in the past we have focused on community events such as the Cancer UK Race for Life and our local Hospice Night Walk for which the instructors have run the warm-up.
Members are invited to join a Fitin30 group, who then support each other to participate and raise money for causes in which we all have a vested interest. It`s a lot of fun and adds to the community feel which we strive for.
In addition, we`re always happy to go out and talk to community groups about what we do and explain how it could improve the health and fitness of attendees, particularly if the group`s focus is predominately women.
What would you say to people who are nervous to join a gym?
Well obviously I`d say come and talk to us here at Fitin30! We`re confident we can help the vast majority of women who come through our door. There are many other women-only gyms around the country, so it would be worth looking at the facilities available locally and then get in touch to find out more.
Gyms, especially the smaller, local facilities, vary increasingly in the types of people they aim to help, so it is a case of finding the one which gives you most confidence. In North Devon, of course, that would be Fitin30 Gym!
What are you waiting for! Join a women-only gym!
As Selfish Darlings we need to look after our physical health as well as our mental and emotional health. What better way to do that than to get fit, surrounded by like-minded women in a judgement-free environment!
Interview with Wendy, Director of FitIn30 Gym in North Devon