UoN Sport's Empower Campaign: Her Campus Gets the Lowdown

I had a chat with Alex, the social media ambassador for UoN Sport’s Empower campaign, this last week. This campaign is starting on the 27th October with their annual Girls' Night In, and Her Campus Nottingham wanted to know more! It sounds right up our street. In summary, the Empower campaign is targeted at girls, to help us feel empowered at university through being active and doing regular exercise. I asked Alex all the questions we absolutely need the answers to, so here we have it: all the information you need to know about this year’s brilliant campaign!

1.    What inspired the campaign? What is it aiming to achieve?

When I first came to uni, I wanted to start going to the gym, I’d always been in team sports at school but had never actually been to the gym on a regular basis. I didn’t know how to do weights and I didn't feel confident enough to go and try it on my own, for fear of injury as well as anything else! The Empower campaign aims to remove this stigma that the gym is for boys. Although it isn't me driving the campaign, I volunteered at Girls' Night In during my first year at uni and have loved being involved every year since. This year is the biggest and best yet! We want all girls on campus to feel welcome, to get involved, and be empowered at the gym.

2.    How come it is all year round rather than just a month?

We believe improving your mental and physical health should be a way of life, not just something you try for a month. We want it to be something that can really impact the girls here at Nottingham uni, something they can feel involved in, something they can thrive in, and something they can see rewards from. This can only happen if it’s at least a year long campaign. The point system we use for the Empower campaign is meant to do just this; encourage regular attendance throughout the whole year, and as a reward we’ll take the most dedicated girls out of campus on a surprise trip!


3.    Why do you think empowerment for women at university is important?

I think it sets women up for life. It gives you the mentality you need for the rest of your life: If you want something go get it, work hard for it. It is so important women at university are taught this, because it isn't something on the curriculum at schools.  Why shouldn't girls have access to this strong mentality? In boys’ schools, it is something much more common. The sporty boys are the popular ones, it’s cool for a guy to do sport. Whereas for girls, we have so much pressure on how we look rather than how healthy we are. We want to change this and educate girls on the health benefits the gym can offer. 

4.    Will there be an effort to encourage the less sporty girls to be involved with this campaign?

One of the key parts of the campaign is to ensure everything is suitable for girls at all levels of sport. It isn't competitive, it is just getting girls active and feeling like they can do anything, whether from a sporty background or not. All of our sessions are open to everyone, whether you have a gym membership or not. It’s for people who want to try something new, make new friends, and feel part of something. If they're not a member of the gym, they just need to sign in at reception for Girls' Night In which is free. For the other events, it’s usually just £3 on the door.


5.    Is there a focus on both diet and exercise?

There is more of a focus on exercise and team sports, but there is a couple of nutrition workshops as part of the Empower campaign. We do have to be careful with the diet aspect of things, because we don't want women to feel like this campaign is about what they look like. It isn’t; it is about being fit and healthy and feeling good. This does massively include what you eat too, and in coming years we will do more on what foods work well with exercise so you're not wasting all the exercising you're doing. We just want to get everyone involved, from different courses, the girls who don't have gym memberships; all corners of campus. This campaign is inclusive so girls can feel strong, and we hope to eradicate the stigma that the gym is all about looking good, it is primarily about feeling good and being healthy and kind to your body.

6.    Why is it targeted specifically at girls?

There is another campaign for the guys, called Men’s Health Active, so we do cover all bases. But the Empower campaign is specifically for girls because the gym has always been such a male dominated space. Girls need an all-girl space to become involved in the gym and in team sports; we need to build the confidence of all girls, to help them stop feeling self-conscious, or worry about what they're doing and whether they're doing it right. It is an all-girl campaign so girls don't have to worry about what they look like; it’s so we can feel strong and empowered.


Girls' Night In, the start of this Empower Campaign, is on the 27th October, 7-10pm at the David Ross Sports Village. It is free and open to all, everyone is welcome!