This Girl Can

Rachel, Cardiac Physiologist by day, volleyballer every other time

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Following a phenomenal response to the launch of the This Girl Can campaign - designed to tackle head-on the barriers that stop more women being more active, and to give more women the confidence to exercise - Sport England has today unveiled a host of new ways for women to join in and celebrate how they get active, and inspire other girls like them to do the same.

Driven by popular demand from women themselves, Sport England has announced a partnership with Marks and Spencer to sell a limited edition This Girl Can t-shirt. The t-shirts, which will be available in sizes 8 – 24, can be purchased from selected Marks and Spencer stores or online at marksandspencer.com from today, priced at £12.50. £1 from every t-shirt sold will be used by Sport England to fund projects to help women get more active.

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It's a campaign close to our hearts since we want to encourage women to get fit too. Infact, today we launched our 30 Day Get Fit Challenge which will see the ELLE Fit team roll out a new exercise each day in a bid to get strong and stay strong. 

Jennie Price, Sport England Chief Executive, said: “The response to This Girl Can has been truly incredible. Since we launched the campaign, over a quarter of a million women have shared their personal stories of getting active. When we developed the campaign, we focussed on the fear of judgement and this has resonated with women across the world.  I have been overwhelmed by how many women have wanted to be part of the campaign, to share it, celebrate it, and own it for themselves.

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We sat down with Rachel, 24 from Derby, to chat about how she found a love for Volleyball. 

What sport did you grow up doing?

I was encouraged to play a lot of sports as a child, my Dad used to play sport, we were quite a reasonably active family. In school holidays I’d go into kids clubs and play whatever they were doing there. I love any sort of sport to be honest.I used to do a lot of athletics, I used to do a lot of running, and I was in an athletics club when I was younger. I played netball at school. I played a lot of badminton, I still do a bit of badminton for fun, occasionally. But then I found volleyball and that’s pretty much the only sport I play.

Volleyball is quite a minority sport here, how did you get into it? 

It is a minority sport here, but it's really popular in other countries. That’s probably why I joined it a bit late, because I didn’t play it in school. There was a group of Italian school children that introduced me to it though. I worked as a children’s activity leader for a summer. They loved the game and taught me how to play. Then I went on holiday and played it on the beach and learned how to serve and was hooked from then on. When I returned home to Derby I found the Darkstars – our only local club – and haven’t looked back since.

Does your career as a Cardiac Physiologist affect how you think about fitness?

I’m specializing at the minute in ultrasound of the heart called echo cardiography to look at the structure and function of the heart but recently I’ve been doing exercise testing as well, so putting people on treadmills and monitoring their heart rhythm. Obviously, when people have a lack of fitness, it makes me more aware of it.

What tips would you give people to get fit and stay fit? 

Find something you enjoy doing and stick with that, because I think it’s really hard to motivate yourself if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. That applies in general. If you enjoy something, you'll be able to sustain it. I don’t think you’ll sustain anything you really dread doing every time. I do exercise because I like it. 

Would you say cardio exercise is most important?

That makes me feel the fittest. I think weights are good and important as well, but I think for general fitness and general health, cardio is the best.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into sport?

Try something new, because they will probably find that they like it. I want people to realize that adult sport isn't all competitive. A lot of people, including myself, think that if you play adult sport, you have to have been playing it since you were young. We play for fun, and we encourage anyone to start up. 

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