Jo from Capel St Mary
At 50, after doing 'on/off' exercise for most of my adult life, I decided to do the London Marathon - why not? I had watched many other "ordinary" people doing it! Aged 51 I completed it with encouragement from friends and family. Now aged 59, I am still jogging along, I set myself challenges every so often to keep me motivated. I don't break any records and sometimes need a little push, but I have set myself another goal - the London Marathon 2018, to celebrate being aged 60. Fingers crossed I get allocated a place, but in the meantime I'll jog on. :)
Anna from Sudbury
The sport I (am beginning to!) love is running which on some days can be more like fast walking! I completed a beginners running course and following that decided to join a local running club. I try to attend run club once a week and when possible, childcare permitting, I try to run 2 times a week.
I decided to take up running as I'm a larger girl and my husband had gone from not running to a marathon in two years and I could see how his figure changed which inspired me.
I have met some incredible woman on my journey proving you don't need to be a size 8 to run and my confidence has improved so much any woman should feel able to give it a try :)
My main barrier to running is my own lack of confidence and fear of finishing last or looking 'silly' but I'm definitely improving every day. In 2010 I had a bad horse riding accident and smashed my ankle joint to pieces. I was told I might not walk again but following several specialist operations and 6 months in a wheelchair I learnt to walk again. I have early onset arthritis in the joint but I won't let it stop me or get me down!
The this girl can campaign is fantastic and really encouraged me to at least try!
Clara from Stoke - by - Nayland
Train to become more, not less.
Activity: Swimming, Cycling and Weight Lifting
I was never any good at sports as school, but always enjoyed the buzz of a good workout, so after college I trained to become a personal trainer and I've now been doing it for 7 years! Most of my clients are female, and I feel it very rewarding to help them develop their confidence, not just their fitness.
I myself really enjoy swimming and strength training. A lot of women are intimidated by lifting weights, or even going near the weight section of the gym, but I want to change that. You will always find me there pumping iron, making it seem more "normal" for women!
I took up cycling last year, having not ridden for 12 years. I was terrified, I had no confidence and even though I'm not brilliant, I love going out on my bike now.
For me exercise isn't just about fitness, or how I look, but how I feel about myself. Exercise is my therapy and it helps me keep my head screwed on! I especially find lifting weights helps, as its great to see my strength going up each session. Being strong makes me feel like I can take on the world!
Lisa from Sudbury
Yes you can, now let's prove it
Activity: Running, Cycling, Triathlon
I am a runner at heart but have recently discovered triathlon. I run 3-4 times per week and try to cycle and swim at least once each. I regularly take part in parkrun and I run marathons.
Until four years ago I had never joined a running club as I had assumed they were for 'proper' runners, not beginners like me. But I took the plunge and discovered the huge benefits for my fitness, endurance and mental well being of being encouraged and supported with my goals.
A couple of years ago I qualified as a Coach in Running Fitness and have been able to coach groups of beginners, improvers and experienced athletes. It is a wonderful feeling, watching beginners who feel they can't run prove themselves wrong with supportive words and patient coaching. #thisgirlcan has become a recognised mantra to encourage women and girls to give sport a go.
Through running I have hugely increased my circle of friends, dropped a dress size and proved the doubters wrong, because #thisgirlcan
Mandy from Sudbury
I cycle, nearly every day some time to and from work , with my local club or compete against other women.
It makes me feel good, keeps me fit and I can eat everything.
Barriers are time, fitting it into a busy working day and looking after my disabled partner. Cycling is also predominantly a male orientated sport. Had a six wk introduction for local ladies and discovered there are lots of ladies that want to cycle but to intimidated to join a club. Age a lot of people think you get to 48 my age and should be hanging my cycling shoes up, I think not
Sport is a great way to get fit, socialise and meet other like minded people and see some great country side.
Sport is a great de-stressor from the day to day grind of life. I have met a lot of new friends and taken me to different places around the country side.
Rachel from Belstead
Run into the future
Activity: Canicross, Cycling, Scooter
4 years ago I had just come out of a destructive relationship. I lacked confidence, I was unfit and over weight having just started to wear a size 18.
I srarted jogging with my Jack Russell's. The weight started to fall off and my confidence grew and I felt able to join a local canicross groups social runs. Before I knew it I was entering races having a great time with my supportive new friends. I went from strength to strength meeting my partner who has encouraged me all the way. Last year I completed my first marathon without the dogs. The sense of achievement was amazing. This year I taken on Beachy Head Marathon along with a 100 mile road cycle.
Exercise changed me for the better when I was at my lowest. It's power should not be underestimated.
Rachel from Sudbury
Slow and steady wins the race
I used to lack confidence as I am a plus size runner. This campaign encouraged me not to worry about what others think, runners come in all shapes and sizes. I now have the confidence to enter races, I may not be the fastest but I'm pretty sure I'm the proudest! My goal used to be to run an entire parkrun, now it's to run a half marathon! I now have so many like minded friends, I have a whole running family! #thisgirlcan
Steph from Sudbury
Team sport means 'No I in team'
Activity: Rugby and Football
I'll happily participate in any sport when the opportunity arises, but the activities I practice regularly are rugby, football, power lifting, running, and cycling. I am also honored to represent Eastern Counties Rugby and England Deaf Rugby as of last season. Being hard of hearing in a team sport is challenging, as you often can't hear what is happening around you - who is next to you - even the ref's whistle goes ignored sometimes! However great team mates can help you over come the handicap; their belief in me helps build my confidence. Convincing myself to face these challenges head on, believing in myself and pushing my boundaries have allowed me to play sport throughout my life, for which I'm grateful.
I believe strongly that women of all ages and walks of life should be encouraged to find a sport that suits them, and take part in that sport. It keeps them healthy, often results in great friendships, and allows them some 'me' time, something sorely lacking in our busy lives! Often our participation serves as inspiration to our children, our friends, our colleagues - what a fabulous way to spread the love! The #thisgirlcan campaign has inspired me to actively seek to engage and enroll women to take part in sports and exercise, with the aim of reducing dropout rates early on, and encourage those that have stopped taking part to dust off their trainers and get back in the game!
The pioneers of women's sports have done such amazing work, and we need to ensure that the future generations are ignited, ready to pass the torch and further build on the foundations laid before us.
Lottie from Chattisham
Breaking personal bests, as well as people's perceptions
Activity: HIIT and Weights
I run/lift weights/do HIIT between 5-7 times a week and I find it so satisfying and empowering when I see the number on the dumbbell increase or when I can smash out another burpee.
I used to be so self conscious and unfit but now I'm lifting the same weights as the guys!
Rebecca from Sudbury
If at first you don't succeed - time to TRI
I am now a triathlete - or more precisely a 'try'athlete. I started triathlons by accident, I had been through a bit of a break up and decided to get fit and I need to sign up for events to keep myself motivated. A year later and I'm still doing them, as well as working my way towards the London Surrey 100 mile bike ride and managed to join a tri club!
At first I was very nervous, having regular panic attacks and a major lack for confidence - but little by little I've been getting better and proving that anyone can be a triathlete if you want to.