One in four women suffer from “gymtimidation”- shying away from exercise for fear of being judged, a study has found.
Almost half of women have at some point felt negatively judged when working out – with this number highest for those aged 18-24, with a huge 70 per cent feeling this way.
Thirty-seven per cent feel others believe they aren’t “good enough” to exercise and 28 per cent fear people think they are not “attractive” when working out.
A third worry others will think they don’t know what they are doing, resulting in many ditching the gym altogether.
The study of 2,000 women, commissioned by Sure Women, also revealed a shocking lack of movement which could have serious health implications.
The results revealed that the average UK woman is physically active for just four hours a day, equating to three quarters of the waking day spent inactive.
More than one in five (21 per cent) confessed to participating in physical exercise less than once a week, if at all, preferring to spend time watching TV (55 per cent), browsing the internet (42 per cent) or doing nothing at home (36 per cent).
Despite spending nearly £300 on gym memberships and fitness classes per year, many don’t take advantage of it.
Courtney Lucas, brand manager for Sure Women, said: “We were shocked when we discovered the extent of women’s lack of movement and the barriers they face to working out.
“Our Your World Your Workout initiative aims to fuel a conversation about the importance of women having the confidence to move more in their everyday lives, using the world around them to feel more confident and benefit their long-term health.”
“It could be as simple as getting off the bus a stop early to walk, taking the stairs instead of the lift or just simply heading out for a long stroll on a Sunday with the family – these are all examples of small movements that can make a big impact.”
Although 67 per cent of women wish they worked out more, excuses such as ‘getting too red and sweaty’ and the fear of not being good enough are preventing many from going.
To help combat this and inspire more women to use the world around them as their workout, Sure has opened its “Everday Gym” in London, which offers practical solutions to women to help inspire them to fit more movement into their everyday, whatever that might look like – whether that’s taking the stairs instead of the lift or using water bottles as weights.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, an expert in women’s health is working with Sure to educate women on the importance of moving more in their everyday lives.
She said: “Exercise has been touted to be a cure for so many things in life; from depression to memory loss.
“A variety of studies warn that sedentary lifestyles are likely to be causing as many deaths as smoking and certain types of cancers but there are incremental changes women can make to their everyday lives that will see their movement increase and thus the benefits that come with that activity.”
Top 10 reasons given for avoiding a workout:
1. Not having enough money for the gym/classes (27%)
2. Feeling too intimidated by the gym (25%)
3. Worrying about looking unfit in front of other people (21%)
4. Worrying about what other people think of me (19%)
5. Not knowing how to use machinery or exercise efficiently (16%)
6. Worrying about getting too red and sweaty (15%)
7. Fear of not being good enough (14%)
8. Feeling that I need to be better before I work out in public (14%)
9. Feeling intimidated by the gym because of male trainers (14%)
10. Not liking how I look in workout clothing (12%)