Her Spirit: Inspiring women to be more active

April 27 2023

This week, Sport England’s most recent Active Lives Adult Survey was published, and the results were telling.

Her Spirit: Inspiring women to be more active

According to the survey, 60.8% of women – some 14.2 million across the country – are ‘active’, exercising for at least 150 minutes per week, in comparison with 65.6% of men. 

Perhaps more worryingly, the survey demonstrated that activity levels among women are recovering more slowly for women than men following the emergence of COVID-19 in 2020. Year-on-year, activity levels among men leapt by 2.5% to surpass the pre-pandemic total of 65.3%, while a modest 1% increase among women left the percentage still 0.7% lower than the total between November 2018 and November 2019.

Within the European Union, the story is similar; according to the most recent available figures from Eurostat, in 2019 significantly more men (47%) than women (42%) exercised regularly. The gender gap was particularly noticeable in Bulgaria, Spain, Greece and Slovakia. 

In Bulgaria and Romania, where fewer people participated in sport in general, the number of men that took part in physical activity was more than double the total number of women. However, in five EU countries where participation in sport was high – for example Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg and Austria – the percentage of women that took part in physical activity was either higher or almost equal to that of men. 

As reported by Statista, 23.4% of men in the US engaged in sports and exercise each day in 2021, compared to 19.6% of women. 

“Currently 47% of women do no vigorous exercise and 37% of women said their physical health has gotten worse in the last 12 months." Her Spirit Co-Founder Mel Berry

Mission to empower

The World Health Organisation points out that girls and women worldwide are often disadvantaged by discrimination rooted in sociocultural factors.

Additionally, while the discrepancy between male and female activity levels is fairly common worldwide, it is clear that certain countries fare better than others, with countries like the UK lagging behind.

This is where Her Spirit stepped in.

Founded by Mel Berry and Holly Woodford, the organisation is on a mission to empower one million women to become fitter, stronger and healthier.

Berry is an experienced triathlon and swimming coach and Woodford is a British Triathlon coach. Both have a passion for being active and participating in sport, both have experience within the sport, fitness and health industries, and both have worked with a number of athletes and coaches.

Online community

Through the online community, Berry and Woodford are hoping that Her Spirit will create a new way for women of all abilities, ages and stages of life to enjoy being active. But it’s not all about the physical benefits of being active; physical exercise can also help with mental health.

Berry told Global Sustainable Sport: “Currently 47% of women do no vigorous exercise and 37% of women said their physical health has gotten worse in the last 12 months.

“We know time and motivation are key reasons why women are not active with 55% saying they just didn’t have time due to work commitments, and 67% said they had a lack of motivation.

“This is why we founded Her Spirit in 2018 to support every woman to be fitter, stronger and healthier, and support their mental, physical and nutritional health.”

Berry explained that it is more important than ever to help and inspire women to become more active.

“We are in a global health crisis,” said Berry. “In the UK, less than 1% more women are active since 2015, [and there is a] 5% gender gap – men are still more active than women and 14% of disabled women are less likely to feel they are given the opportunity to be as active as they want to be compared to disabled men.”

"The Her Spirit Health HUB is a pioneering way to help support and motivate women to become fitter, stronger and healthier.” Her Spirit Co-Founder Mel Berry

Moving and feeling ‘appy

Her Spirit has also recently launched a female-centred health and fitness app to drive the mission. The app allows users to enter challenges, track their mood, food, sleep and stress.

Soon, there will be a monthly health report to help users to understand their health and fitness over time, and receive helpful hints and tips on how to stay on track.

Berry explained that users can connect their activity tracker, sign up for a fun challenge, participate in a live-streamed class and join a coaching group. App users will also be able to gain community kudos and rewards as they climb through the levels; ‘ROAR’ points will be given for every minute of activity completed.

“The Her Spirit HUB tracks your data, learns your goals and recommends programmes, challenges and brands that will help you achieve your goals,” Berry added.

“With monthly progress reports, we help you stay on track with your active lifestyle. The Her Spirit Health HUB is a pioneering way to help support and motivate women to become fitter, stronger and healthier.”

A woman in harmony with her spirit…

The name Her Spirit was inspired by a quote from poet, memoirist and civil rights activist Maya Angelou: “A Woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretence and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.”

Meanwhile, the initiative itself was inspired by wanting to tackle the inequality faced by women when it came to physical activity, without relying on what has been done before.

Berry explained: “We want to change the way women think and feel about being active. The stats are shocking in the UK and globally. We did not want to be women who moaned about others not tackling the problem in a way we thought was the right way, so we put our money where our mouth was and created Her Spirit.”

So far, Berry and Woodford have witnessed positive results.

Part of Her Spirit’s approach to inspiring women to become more active is the community element. The Health HUB offers community-based challenges, as well as its live-streamed classes and resources.

“70% of our members say they are more active since going Her Spirit,” said Berry. “Our primary goal is to help you reach 150 minutes of activity and 60 minutes of strength-based exercises per week.”

With an eye for the future, Berry and Woodford and the Her Spirit team are hoping to grow the community to over one million.

Berry added: “Please come and join the community today and access all you need to be fitter, stronger and healthier. We need to create change and if we collaborate we can get one step closer.”

Her Spirit is on a mission to empower one million women to get fitter, stronger and healthier. It was founded in 2018 by Mel Berry and Holly Woodford.

For information on Her Spirit and to sign up for the app click here for more details.

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