Leeds Girls Can Clubbercise

LGC clubbercise

Despite the snow we enjoyed a successful International Women’s Day in Leeds! Our main event was the Leeds Girls Can Clubbercise session which took place in the middle of the Trinity Centre (yes that’s right, surrounded by shoppers and commuters) in the evening. Leeds Girls Can ran two hours of Clubbercise for anybody who wanted to take part. It was fantastic to see women and men joining in with the International Women’s Day celebrations. We had all ages amongst our ranks, the youngest and arguably the cutest being Sienna, age 4. She was definitely the best out of us all, she didn’t want to stop. Hopefully she will remember the event as she gets older, going through life knowing that girls can do anything. That is why we exist, to show people that they can achieve anything, even when it’s out of their comfort zone.

You may think that we looked like a bunch of crazy people dancing in the middle of a shopping centre but there was a very important purpose for it. We like to show that the women of Leeds are resilient, no matter how many eyes were on us it didn’t matter! We were having fun, getting a good workout in and proving that Leeds Girls Can.

Made in Leeds TV even came to cover the event and much to my horror I was interviewed as a participant. I tried very hard not to try too hard at the ‘clubbericising’ because I didn’t want to be out of breath to speak to the camera, I think I pulled it off… see for yourself and watch it here: Made in Leeds TV Clubbercise I hope you all had a fab International Women’s Day! Comment below with what you got up to! Em x Instagram: active.em.blog Facebook: Emily Ankers – Leeds Girls Can Ambassador


Leeds Sports Awards 2018

LGC leeds sports awards

The Leeds Girls Can Ambassadors were very lucky and grateful to be invited to the Leeds Sports Awards 2018. It was a rare occasion in more than one way, we swapped our trainers for heels, the only problem was that we hardly recognised each other in all our finery away from a muddy park or sweaty spin studio. Held at the First Direct Arena, this was a highly prestigious event, just to give you a sense of the scale of the awards, it was sponsored by Leeds Bid, Banana Kick, The University of Leeds, ImageCo, Blacks Solicitors, First Direct Bank, Leeds Bradford Airport, Sport Leeds, Yorkshire Sport Foundation, Resource, SWPix, Leeds Sports Federation, Leeds City Council and the Yorkshire Evening Post. Quite a mouthful.

It was a wonderful evening celebrating the achievements of all sorts of people involved in sports in Leeds, with young, senior and special contributions awards, it was an extremely diverse line up. As Leeds Girls Can Ambassadors we were very interested in the female winners, celebrating their strength and determination in their respective sports. We were lucky enough to get to meet some of them, accidentally photo bombing Izzy Palmer’s family photo – sorry Izzy. Izzy won the Young Sportswoman – Disability Award for her amazing efforts and achievements as a para dressage rider. I’m actually quite terrified of horses so I’m in awe of her for even going near one but at age 17 with a list of achievements that would take up this entire blog post, she really is the perfect example of a Leeds Girl proving that she can.

We also met Charlotte Booth, winner of the Student Sport – Individual Award. Charlotte is also the first female rugby league player to receive the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) from Sport England. Charlotte plays for the Leeds Rhinos and has played on the England Squad. Now I don’t know that much about rugby but you don’t need to be an expert to realise that she is an absolutely phenomenal player, fantastic role model and literally #quadgoals. Charlotte is also a student at Leeds Trinity and we bonded over the joy that is Temple Donuts and Coffee (if you haven’t been you need to go, it’s on Kirkstall Road – have a cheeky Google). It just shows, if a pro rugby player says it’s fine to eat donuts, it’s 100% fine to eat donuts.

Another amazing female athlete that we met was Boxing Coach Sam Smith, Sam and her fellow coach Graham Mattison won the Coach – Participation Award. It was wonderful to hear about the positive impact their club (Alliance Boxing) has on the Leeds community. A highlight of the evening was when some younger club members started doing a demonstration of their boxing techniques on stage (not on each other, don’t worry). As much as the children entertained us, it was obvious to see that this confidence was a direct product of their experiences at the club. Sport doesn’t just keep us fit, it gives us confidence in day to day life.

We also got to meet Hannah Cockcroft MBE winner of the Sportswoman – Disability Award, an absolute legend. Her numerous successes include her multiple Gold medal wins at London 2012 and Rio 2016 in wheelchair racing. She was lovely and so happy to have a picture with us as Leeds Girls Can. It really struck me how all of the athletes that we met were so happy to talk to us. It felt like they were instantly part of the Leeds Girls Can and wider This Girl Can community, because we were all there for the same reason. To show our support for the achievements and efforts for men and women in sports, regardless of gender or age, everybody equally deserved their awards.

Thank you to Banana Kick for inviting us! We had a great time representing Leeds Girls Can amongst such a vibrant, energetic and fun Leeds sporting community.

Em x

Insta: @active.em.blog

Facebook: Emily Ankers – Leeds Girls Can Ambassador

Twitter: @active_em_blog

Pilates with Oov for International Women’s Day 2018

LGC pilates photo

As you might already know, Leeds Girls Can had a very successful International Women’s Day on 8th March. Unfortunately, because of the snow some of our sessions were cancelled but Headingley Pilates were extremely kind and rescheduled for us. Myself and my friend Molly (shout out to Molly) went along to find out what on earth Oov Pilates is!

You can see us holding our Oovs in the group photo. When I first saw it I honestly thought it looked like some sort of foam Loch Ness monster. Seriously, how were we going to incorporate that into our Pilates?! Jenny our instructor was very informative and lovely, she quickly showed and explained to us what it was for. Taken from the Oov website, an Oov:

‘… works by activating the user’s core stabilising muscles while also gently extending the spine to stimulate healthy intervertebral disc lubrication. This active response in the user helps achieve ‘neutral spine’, a widely used concept in the treatment and assessment of spinal conditions.’

It was fun trying to get onto the Oov, I’ll tell you that, but the difference that it made to how your back feels was really incredible. It sort of supports you in a way that means you can stretch better and further. It also challenges you to keep your core steady in a different way which made the moves that little bit harder. We also used it for balance practise, standing on it on one foot whilst raising our other leg. I am surprised that I didn’t fall off but it really helped me work on my balance, something that has gone a little bit out of the window since I don’t practise Karate regularly anymore. By the end of the class I felt like I had used my muscles properly, engaging them as best as possible, nicely stretched and ready for the day ahead.

We had a fab session and I would strongly recommend that you give Oov Pilates a go!

Thank you to Headingley Pilates and Jenny for looking after us so well and for introducing us to the wonderful world of the Oov.

Em x Headingley Pilates: Headingley Pilates Website

Facebook: Emily Ankers – Leeds Girls Can Ambassador Instagram: @active.em.blog Twitter: @active_em_blog

Uni Girls Can Post-Workout Nutrition Workshop

Here at Leeds Girls Can we are all about getting out and active. Such an important part of leading a healthy and balanced life is nutrition and post-exercise nutrition is absolutely key to seeing and feeling results. Today (Thursday 30th November) I attended a workshop run by Uni Girls Can who had teamed up with some of the ladies in the Food Science department at the University of Leeds. It was super interesting and helpful with lots of nifty tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your food.

Chloe, Maika, Diana and Yoana took us through the importance of nutrition after exercise for recovery and also general healthy eating. They had us take part in a fun quiz asking questions about what which foods we thought had more protein in (pumpkin seeds actually have more protein per 100g than chicken breast!?) and general ideas about nutrition that we might have.

They then did two demonstrations of a snack and a meal. The post-exercise snack was a simple smoothie, made with fruit, yoghurt and milk (vegan option provided too!) – this smoothie actually had 16g of protein in it – perfect for replenishing energy and aiding muscle recovery. The second demonstration was of how to make Quorn meatball vegetable pasta. What was really great about both the snack and the meal was that we were given lots of options for making it home – different pasta to use, different vegetable ideas, how to save money when buying fruit and vegetables. We discovered a red lentil pasta that exists which is a) delicious and b) has 20g of protein in per serving!

Throughout the whole workshop everybody was getting involved by asking lots of questions, chatting about the kind of food that they like to make, the sports everybody is involved with. It was such a great way to learn more about nutrition and try some tasty food (always a bonus!).

Thank you so much to the Chloe, Maika, Yoana and Diana for teaching us some delicious recipes and giving us some very valuable information about nutrition. Thank you to all the ladies that came along to the workshop! Hopefully, in the near future Leeds Girls Can ladies might be able to attend one of these interesting and fun workshops… watch this space!

Em x

Eunice Walker: “I started running just before I turned sixty and will never stop!”

My husband came home from work one day and said, “come on we are going running, I want to lose weight”. I was fifty-nine at the time and has never ran before in my life! Anyway, off we went to the local park and after a few minutes I was struggling. I was gasping and couldn’t breathe properly. I carried on a bit more but I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I ran just a few more minutes but then I’d had enough.

We went again the next night but it wasn’t any better. Being the determined woman I am, I continued to try running just for a few minutes and after a week I had lost two pounds. I thought, “Okay- maybe I should carry on”.

I tried working on my breathing over the next few runs and found I was able to run just that bit further each time. I was only running for ten minutes and just let my husband get on with the rest.

Another week went by and I found myself starting to enjoy it. My breathing was getting better and I’d bought a sports bra which really made a difference! After the third week my husband said, “I’ve had enough so I’m not doing it anymore”. I told him I was actually enjoying it now so he encouraged me to continue running by myself. I won’t go to the park alone so I began running on the streets near my house. Just ten minutes a day and what a difference it made. I was really enjoying it and getting the benefits of feeling fit and healthy. It was coming up to my sixtieth birthday in four months so I wrote on a piece of paper that I would lose over a stone by then, and put it on the bedroom wall as a testimony.

My husband is younger than me and walks a lot at work so I let him off for not being my running buddy. When my birthday came I had lost one stone and three pounds and was absolutely delighted! I was still only running for ten to fifteen minutes a day.

The motivation pushed me to stretch to fifteen to twenty minute runs and sometimes more. I entered my first Race for Life and have continued to enter each year for the last eight years. This year I was interviewed by the TV man and made it onto ITV Calendar News.

I am now sixty nine and have only gained three and a half pounds in the years I’ve been running, I’m chuffed with that! I met up with a friend from school and told her about my running journey- she now runs with me twice a week. I still run on the streets on other days in the week, and I now run with Dani Penney from Leeds Girls Can- Active Leeds for thirty to forty minutes every Thursday.

What would I say to other females thinking of starting running? Come on girls, you really CAN do it if you just give it a try! All girls together!

blog image Eunice

Leeds Girls Can – Couch to 5k – Kirkstall Abbey

Leeds girls can logo

Kirsty Midgley

No amount of planning could have prepared us for the overwhelming response to our first LGC Couch to 5k session at Kirkstall Abbey on the 20th of May. 116 enthusiastic, motivated ladies turned up to week one day one and we’ve consistently maintained 70 plus ladies per session since then.

Run leaders Natasha Hamlet and Leanne Lane lead the Thursday night session and Kirsty Midgley leads the Tuesday night session along with a handful of volunteer run leaders from clubs around Leeds.

Originally, we were worried that, while we were offering two lead sessions per week, one session would need to be run over the weekend in their own time. We were unsure if they would stick to this, thus putting the programme in jeopardy, our fears however were unfounded as the ladies arrange meet ups on Saturday and Sundays in various parks through the closed Facebook group.

I began my own running journey with the couch to 5k programme and I really wanted to help other ladies fall in love with running. I’ve gained so much confidence and benefits from running, I hope I can pass on just a fraction of this to each one of the ladies.

One of the biggest learning curves for me so far has been to watch each person and ensure we are giving them enough to encouragement and indeed enough of a challenge to keep them motivated and coming back week on week. For the faster ladies who sprint their runs we’ve brought in a pacemaker to teach them to pace their runs and control their breathing. For the slower ladies, we’ve started a buddy system to keep them motivated on their run.

By far the best part of running the group is the feedback from the ladies – their daily posts in the facebook group and seeing them struggle on day one of the run to comfortably running day three of the same run is inspiring.


Leeds Girls Can: Couch To 5K!

Leeds Girls Can blog image

It started with a meeting alongside Leeds Girls Can Ambassador’s and Run Leader’s- Natasha Hamlet and Kirsty Midgley. We wanted to discuss setting up a Couch to 5k beginners running group. We were all excited in sharing our passion to help get more women and girls active. After finalising logistics of the programme, we created a Facebook group and began promoting through social media and word of mouth. We received a lot of interest but assumed only a percentage of that would translate into actual ladies turning up. How wrong we were…

On the 21st of April 2017, I turned up ready to lead week 1 session 1, and was absolutely overwhelmed to be greeted by 116 women and girls. It was slightly chaotic to say the least. I certainly wasn’t expecting to have to shout the warm up to that many people, but somehow the other leaders and I got through it successfully. Over the next few weeks the numbers gradually stabilised to around 70 ladies. At the time I just thought we were getting into the swing of things and it kind of became the norm. Reflecting back now, I realise what an incredible achievement that was!

As the weeks continued to go by I were amazed at the level of commitment and determination I saw from the ladies. Although the leaders put on a regular Tuesday and Thursday session, the participants were expected to complete the third session of the week on their own. The Facebook group proved to be such a useful outlet and a place for the ladies to post about their achievements, to seek advice and support each other. Seeing ladies turn up at the sessions, week after week, and complete runs that they never imagined they could was inspiring to us all.

My running journey started back in 2005, following a similar Couch to 5k plan, and I have never looked back. I knew the Couch to 5k programme was a great tool in encouraging people to exercise and achieve their goals, but little did I think I would have a vital part to play in getting so many women active. As the ‘Pregnant Run Leader’, I was happy to lead the warm ups and cool downs. During the sessions you’d usually find me near the back walking, offering encouragement and chatting with the ladies. I thoroughly enjoyed every single session I was a part of, talking to some of the ladies and finding out their reasons for doing it was very inspiring and motivating for me.

So the 9 weeks flew by and the running distance continued to increase. It dawned on me the impact the group was having when Made in Leeds came down to film us, and show off the achievements of the group. At the final session I was able to attend, there were still around 35 ladies participating in 30 minute continuous running. I felt emotional thinking about the journey these women had achieved from struggling to run for a minute to doing it for a full half an hour!

I had an absolute blast with the Leeds Girls Can Couch to 5k ladies at Kirkstall Abbey. I am thankful to all the volunteer Run Leaders and Active Leeds Development Team for allowing me to be a part of such an inspiring and empowering thing. I’ve loved every minute of being part of this group and can truly say that I feel everyone who completed the programme is the epitome of #ThisGirlCan.

Ps. Watch this space for more Leeds Girls Can Couch to 5k programmes! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @LeedGirlsCan to hear about more amazing opportunities you can get involved in.