Features

The Female Fitness Revolution

By Ella Rowe-Hall

Today, female fitness seems to be becoming greatly prominent within society. More and more women are getting fit and playing sports, and celebrities and fitness fanatics seem to be continuously brandishing their own fitness journeys across our social media screens. But what is this so-called female fitness revolution, and why now?

After the introduction of women’s birth control in 1961 and the popularisation of second wave feminism, attitudes surrounding women’s roles began to change. This increased freedom and self-control for women regarding their clothes, activities and time management, job and finances and fitness.

Most women today obtain their own job and finances, allowing themselves to choose to spend their money on gym and sporting club memberships. Despite the increasing number of single mums with limited free time, many exercise classes at gyms and clubs are tailored to have childcare facilities on site, or to coincide with child swimming classes, for example. The variety of gym classes spread throughout the day permits women to fit exercise around their busy schedules, more so than ever.

Many women today feel empowered through their ability to control their own bodies through fitness. The physical strength developed through fitness is likely to further give women confidence, pushing sporting boundaries and competing against themselves or like-minded women. The increasing number of gyms chains across many towns and cities makes it easier for women to access gyms at home, or in other areas of the country if a member at the same gym.

Mental Health

The relationship between fitness and the mind and body has arguably led to an increased popularity of female fitness. While many women agree they exercise to improve their physical appearance, many others use fitness as a means to improve their bodies strength for their future and their children. This is something singer Adele claimed. Moreover, developing a robust relationship with healthy eating and fitness, aids women’s lives regarding a healthier work-life balance, often more sustainable.

Most women and men are aware of the exercise benefits regarding weight loss and the development of a more athletic physique. However, an increasing number of women, particularly those within the public eye, exaggerate the mental health benefits due to fitness. 2018 Love Island contestant Alexandra Cane promotes body positivity, yet places a particular focus on the improvement of her anxiety due to regular fitness and a healthy eating regime; offered within her ‘The Happy Body Plan’.

A long history…

Despite the recent surge of social media and technology’s influence, it would be ignorant to ignore the humble beginnings of female fitness. It began with Drake’s debut on ‘The Debbie Drake Show’ in 1960, debuting as the first woman to star in her own exercise show (within America). Drake’s TV fitness career is considered iconic – even if, when looking back, it becomes apparent that its emphasis was primarily on looking good.

Another household name is Jane Fonda, one of the most prominent women who furthered the female fitness revolution for British women during the 1980’s fitness boom; Fonda was one of the first to explore the fitness DVD/video phenomenon we’re well acquainted with today!

While those early female fitness icons are remembered by many of your aunts and mothers, as is the flood of torn ligaments, tendons and so on…all a product of the first attempts at delving into the world of the now far more educated, safe female fitness.

Social Media

A great indicator of the world’s crazes and trends. It’s fair to say, social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube have become inundated with fitness videos, promoting fitness tips for all women regardless of size, ethnicity or lifestyle to feast their eyes on. An almost too easy example is the ‘This girl can’ campaign, intending to inspire another generation of girls and women into the sporting and fitness world through TV and social media ads.

Grace Beverley

22-year-old Grace Beverley, formerly an Oxford student restored faith for women that fitness can fit into even the most hectic lives via her half a million YouTube and 1 million Instagram followers. Grace’s increasing fame through fitness highlights the media’s impact and the improved quality and understanding of female fitness; conveying the healthiest ways for newcomers and pros alike to bask in the successes of a healthy, fitness driven lifestyle today.

The Truth

As easy as it would be to say that female fitness is revolutionised, it wouldn’t tell the whole truth. There are still many girls shying away from football due to its consideration as a ‘boys sport’, or women who fear male intimidation in a gym’s weight section. This fitness revolution is not yet complete.

However, the progression made regarding attitudes from the ‘60s to now is a real testament. Every woman who finds joy through her fitness journey, brings women everywhere that little step closer to even greater female fitness success. 

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