Women have long been indoctrinated with the idea that you have to look a certain way in order to be fit. It’s everywhere. Adverts, social media, TV shows – the only women who get to be strong, healthy and love their bodies are size 6 Instagram models, clad head-to-toe in lycra with intimidating abs and an inexplicable thigh gap. It teaches us over and over again that this is the ideal female form. And anything that doesn’t fit the mould is wrong, even shameful. The world of fitness and women’s sport is crying out for more diverse representation.
Women of all ages, sizes, races and abilities can be strong, fit and unbelievably inspirational. But we never get to see them. A huge study by Sport England found that 75% of women say fear of judgement puts them off being active. And 40% of women over the age of 16 aren’t meeting the recommended levels of weekly fitness. So it’s more important than ever for women to reclaim the narrative and celebrate their inner strength. Regardless of what they look like. This series aims to redefine what it means to be a strong woman. We will meet some of the incredible ladies who are challenging accepted norms every single day. in the lead up to #IWD2019 we meet Ella Foote, an outdoor swimmer who braves the cold year-round and couldn’t care less how you think she looks in a swimming costume.
Ella tells us about her relationship with fitness:
"At school, fitness and exercise was something either compulsory or not enjoyable. The exercise I enjoyed most was the kind where I didn’t notice I was getting in shape when I did it.
Spending hours on my bike with my mates, dancing, heading to the ice rink to meet boys, evenings at the roller disco and Saturdays at the swimming pool. When I left university, I didn’t really know how to keep in shape. I hated the gym. Around 2007 I asked myself – what sport do I really enjoy doing when it doesn’t feel like effort? The answer was swimming. Ploughing up and down the pool wasn’t fun though, swimming in the sea – now that is what brought me joy."