Women across South Somerset can be In It Together
The In It Together project funded by Sport England helps women and girls aged 14+ to be more active by providing sporting and physical activity opportunities that are fun, affordable and in the right place at the right time.
Many women think about doing physical activity but for various reasons including money, time, body or general confidence, decide not to take part. The In It Together project helps people to find their confidence through its friendly approach to taking part in exercise.
Classes are friendly with that 'beginners' feeling so that everyone who takes part is starting from the same point. This approach to getting women back into sport and physical activity has led to the success of the project and with six months of the project left, more women attending than originally projected.
Cherry Toop has taken part in a number of in It Together classes and gone on to lose four stone in weight, gain confidence in her ability and trained to lead her own In It Together running classes.
Cherry found she was struggling with motivation to take part in sport, was over-weight and had problems with her lower back. She received an email about the In It Together beginners running classes and despite thinking she couldn't run, decided to sign up for the eight week beginners running sessions.
Although she did not enjoy the first couple of sessions because it was something different from what she was normally used to, Cherry persevered with the activity and even re-joined another beginner's class straight after to continue her aim to take part in more sport and become fit.
Now with the running bug and a leader's qualification behind her, Cherry has set up her own beginners running classes in Sparkford and Wincanton. Initially 11 women turned up for the first week at the Sparkford course, all wanting to be more active, gain confidence and share in Cherry's inspiring story.
Speaking about the project, Cherry said, "In It Together has really changed my life; it's allowed me to become more fit, lose weight but most importantly be more confident about myself and taking part in sport. I'm not a person to give up and despite not enjoying the running sessions initially, I look back now and can see the benefits that I have personally reaped because of these easy to access affordable classes."
Cherry's Sparkford beginners running class has gone from strength to strength, with new classes starting for beginners and intermediates. Many women are now comfortable running 5k or further and lots of participants also regularly take park in weekly Park Run events.
Cherry added, "I'm really pleased that my story has inspired others to come forward and take part in sport. My classes have an excellent retention rate in terms of people coming back to training sessions. We use WhatsApp as a communication tool so we can keep in touch and talk about how we're feeling after sessions, what we have planned and it has allowed people to make new friends as well."
Image above: Cherry Toop (front centre - blue trainers, black leggings, pink top and black jumper) with her Sparkford beginners and intermediates In It Together running groups.
How to get involved
There are lots of In It Together activities, including a range of beginners fitness, sporting and relaxation classes. For example, you can take part in classes such as tai-chi, running, netball, badminton and Zumba.
Debbie Hill, Women's & Girls Development Officer for the In It together project said, "The project has done really well and we've seen a fantastic number of people attend activities, many of which have come along thanks to word of mouth from those who have previously taken part in activities. It's all about that constant trickle feed of getting people to find their confidence and we do this by ensuring activities are fun and friendly for all so that nobody feels they are out of place and self-confidence is built up so that women can say 'This girl can'."
Councillor Sylvia Seal, Portfolio Holder for Leisure & Culture at South Somerset District Council added, "The In It Together project has been a major success in South Somerset, getting more women active than ever before. I am proud that we can boast about the success of the project here because not only has it helped people to get involved in sport, but it has boosted confidence, made many new friendships and been about having fun whilst exercising and getting fit."
The In It Together project is led by South Somerset District Council in partnership with Somerset Activity & Sports Partnership and Yarlington Housing Group. In It Together was made possible thanks to National Lottery funding from Sport England.