Following a recent survey conducted by mental health charity Mind, for the 'Feel better outside - Feel better inside' campaign, it's been revealed that the majority of women feel conscious of their body when working out in public and are concerned about what other women will think.
A poll of 1,450 women found that two-thirds of women are conscious of their body shape when taking part in outdoor activities. The same number of women do not think they could keep up in an exercise group and almost half don't even take part because they worry about looking uncoordinated and silly.
Many women are so concerned that they take extreme measures just in order to keep fit.
These include exercising very early in the morning or late at night (over 50%), exercising in places where they are unlikely to see anyone they know (almost two-thirds) and wearing baggy clothes to hide their figure (67%).
Beth Murphy, Mind's head of information, pointed out that activities such as walking, cycling and gardening are good for people's mental health.
'However for many of us exercising in the great outdoors can be incredibly daunting, especially if already feeling low and self-confidence is at rock bottom," she said.
'At these times you can feel like the only person in the world experiencing this, but Mind's research highlights that far from being alone, 90 per cent of women are in exactly the same boat.'
So what does this mean for us as fitness professionals?
How can we bring these fitness-phobics out of their shells?
- it's important to consider that not all of your class attendees are confident when it comes to dancing in front of a mirror (and 30 other women!), or contorting themselves into the Happy Baby or Downward Facing Dog! Holding classes that are less confidence-challenging may be an option and will be guaranteed to be well-attended. This way, you can work on building the confidence of your members at a more comfortable pace.
- spend time getting to know and understand your client's concerns and insecurities. This way, you can tailor an exercise programme that is comfortable, realistic and more likely to keep them engaged to keep it up.
Those women that do break through the barrier of self-consciousness, will tell others. And what better recommendation for your services as a fitness professional than to see a previous wallflower exuding confidence!
For some, this could be a great specialist area for fitness professionals to shed the nation's women of their pounds (and oversized sweaters!)
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