Inspire a generation: Women on the podium

July 31, 2012 at 4:59
Posted by Rachael Woolston

When it comes to gender equality in sports, Great Britain has long dragged behind the US to name just one. This summer, let’s hope that the London Olympics will be remembered as a time when the GB women’s team deliver as many medals as the men.

We are not doing too shabbily so far with Lizzie Armistead and Rebecca Adlington winning medals. Although it is not just medals that inspire but the incredible feats of our female athletes.

Team GB weight lifter, Zoe Smith is a case in point. Just 18 years old, she snatched the British Clean and Jerk record of 121kg. That is like lifting the equivalent weight of a musclebound Arnold Schwarzengger in his 1970’s hey day.

It would be a wonderful legacy but in reality all the hype disguises a more depressing reality. Statistics show that participation among girls in sport drops off compared to boys as soon as they are out of school.

Worst of all, a survey by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Founation shows that girls do not like exercising in front of boys, and feel that getting sweaty is not feminine.

What has happened to the Fitbitch attitude?

To overcome this and wake everyone up to the huge rocket soaring endorphin ride and confidence boosting power of sport, we need more role models who are not just elite atheletes.ty.

At Fitbitch, we have trained hundreds of women who came to us having given up exercise at school, and now realise how much they missed out. They are now role models to their children, or their office colleagues, and this is where the grass roots movement must surely be cultivated.

Inspiration comes from every day women, not just elite athletes.

So let’s not just leave it to the Olympians but lead the way ourselves, and show that women are a force to be reckoned with.

Fitbitches shall inherit the earth. Or the stadiums or something.

For more information about the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation’s campaign and support their movement, tweet #gogirl for any women’s fitness feat.



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Fitbitch Dispatches…The Barefoot Convention

July 27, 2012 at 1:38
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Barefoot Ted leads a run from the Natural History Mueseum

Last month, we were  invited to the U.K’s first Barefoot Convention, hosted by Primal Lifestyle and featuring some of the world’s foremost experts on barefoot running, including the ultra runner, Barefoot Ted and Vivobarefoot coach, Lee Saxby.

It was held in the Natural History Museum, a fitting location  as the premise of the barefoot running movement is that we were forced to evolve to become efficient barefoot runners over long distances due to the need to hunt for food, or risk starvation and death.

Fast forward 2.5million years, and barefoot experts now argue that modern day running shoes with built up heels and motion control support have changed our natural gait and foot strike which is contributing, rather than preventing  injuries.

As Barefoot Ted, who came to prominence with the book, Born to Run says; ‘Barefoot is not a fad. The fad is what we are just coming out of …how to take us and bring us back to where we were.’

Which is all well and good, but what does this this debate mean for the reality of runners? And should we all make the transition to barefoot in the hope it means less injuries and a better running experience?

At FitBitch, we agree with the principle of barefoot running and teach some barefoot techniques to help make runners think about their gait, conditioning and foot strike.   But that does not mean that everyone should necessarily throw away their trainers and head for the hills.

While purists of barefoot running would argue (vehemently) that barefoot running is for all, what I see time and again at barefoot meetings, or in interviews with barefoot runners, is that many are already movement specialists, running or strength and conditioning coaches.

Even Barefoot Ted himself admitted ‘I had some understanding of what it meant to be barefoot,’ having had a background in skate boarding and surfing before he ditched his trainers.

Is it then any wonder that barefoot purists have made the transition to barefoot running so easily? And why few understand that it is not as easy or as relevant for all.

At Fitbitch, we teach women from all different walks of life and experiences of fitness, from the very fit to the total beginner. Some  want to race and don’t have the time to regress their running to do a gradual build up to barefoot running.

Other’s just want to get fit, and if they started out having to follow a program of very short distances for weeks on end, any feel good endorphins and sense of achievement would be lost. And with that, the desire to continue to run which would be the biggest tragedy of all.

After all, the reason and motivation to run for most of us is not the accolades or the PBs, but simply because it makes us feel good.

And somewhere in the barefoot running debate at the conference that aspect – the feeling of being in touch with your surroundings, seems to be getting lost.

As a final word on the convention, it came  to barefoot coach Lee Saxby, to be the voice of reason.

After a decade of treating injuries amongst heel strikers, Lee admitted that he has spent most of the last two years rehabbing injured barefoot runners. Why? Because people are not conditioned enough to do it or don’t have the correct technique.

‘If you’re going to heel strike, you’re better off wearing a shoe,’ he explained.

If you want to give barefoot running a go, don’t just think that putting on a pair of Vibram FiveFingers or taking off your trainers immediately makes you a better, more efficient runner. You are the same runner just with less cushioning.

It requires a long, gradual transition, technique workshops and coaching and then barefoot running may reward you well. But let us not get hung up on the issue –  running however you do it, allows you to explore your landscape, both geographically and mentally. It lays open the world at your feet, whether they are in trainers or not.

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