This week is Women in Sport Week, an annual week with free sports taster sessions, guest speakers and sport challenges to break down barriers, challenge gender stereotypes and celebrate our amazing women in sport. This is Amy’s story. 

Zumba President Amy, is all about female empowerment, ““I’m always encouraging girls to whoop and scream and I’m always cheering people on even when I’m instructing, I’m always very loud.” laughs Amy.

For Amy, Zumba created a home-from-home after moving away from her family to come to university. “Zumba was a way to make friends and build a sense of community” she says. But is isn’t just the friendships that have motivated Amy, “I felt fitter and I felt better for being fitter. I’m so used to being active now, I feel more energised for doing it”. It’s enriched other aspects of her life too; “Zumba has helped with my mental wellbeing” Amy explains. “Any time I felt stressed with work I’d go to Zumba and I’d feel instantly really good. Zumba has helped so much in making friends but in mental wellbeing.”

“I think women’s body confidence can stop them getting in to sport”

For some however, participating in sport isn’t always easy. A BT survey of female athletes found that 80% stated that they felt pressure to conform to a certain look and body type. It also found that 97% also felt these issues were not just confined to sport and that the problem stretched to women in wider society. Amy feels female body confidence can also have a direct impact on sport participation. “I think women’s body confidence can stop them getting in to sport a lot of the time and they worry how they might be perceived or people worry about wearing leggings or sports clothes and I just genuinely think it’s a lack of body confidence” she says. “Zumba in particular, there’s a stereotype that’s kind of a sexuality thing, there’s shaking and things like that and we do promote body confidence but that can be quite scary for people that have never it before”

Amy’s advice? “Just go for it” she says. “Zumba creates such a sense of community. I can’t stress that enough. We create a safe space, self-confidence. It’s just a place for women in particular, to come and forget about everything and just enjoy themselves. You go with your friends and you just have a laugh and you can just giggle the whole way through the class. It’s amazing, it’s so feel-good.”

“I’ve had, even at school, people say ‘oh no women play netball’ there wasn’t really the chance to play rugby. But I have had even here, ‘you’re a president? But you’re a woman? I don’t’ know if it’s because it’s a sport society. People have said you know, Zumba isn’t a real sport and I’ve said well, come along to one of our sessions and you’ll see that it is.”

After joining her first class in first year of Uni, not only is Amy now President of Zumba, she also teaches classes. “I feel so happy when someone comes up to me and says that was the best session or that was the highlight of my week. It feels like such a victory. At the end of my classes when they say, ‘I loved that. That was a great class.’ It’s the best feeling”

Get involved in Women in Sport Week. You can find the full timetable of free activities here

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