This Girl Can

As many of you may have seen the commercials of women shaking all their wobbly parts of their body whilst doing exercise, this is just a small part of celebrating women being active no matter how good they are at it, how they look or how they are perceived. Unfortunately in this day and age the toned abs, the flash of them in a crop top, the ability of fitting into something tight and not have your ‘love handles’ coming out to party with you is a bit of a desirable thing, when we should just accept the fact that whilst there maybe be people like that, we all can’t live up to it, and use “shake what ya momma gave you” in a light-hearted context. Being confident, owning your figure and comfortable in your own skin is far more endearing than what any bodycon dress will show you. Don’t get me wrong I have my days when I feel like I’m overweight or I shouldn’t have eaten those 5 cookies in one sitting and partial to the odd ‘suck in’ pants from Primark when I wear a tight dress, but I also go (drag myself) to the gym for half an hour. This campaign is about letting women across the nation feel confident about themselves, and “sweating like a pig” but not giving a care in the world.


This national campaign developed by Sport England has grown into so many different aspects of people’s lives, universities, businesses the list is endless, so when I heard that BUCs (British Universities and College Sport) was embracing this campaign throughout universities in the UK I was so thrilled, as it allows those girls that either may have never considered a sport, thought they wasn’t good enough to play or just simply worried what people might think especially where the sport and training is mixed.

I have always played sport from a young age, and whilst I played the predominately women orientated sports such as netball and hockey, I fell in love with rowing. This can be seen as quite a masculine sport due to the sheer endurance and strength needed for it, however more and more women are getting involved both competitively and socially, and proving that rowing isn’t just for men!

I have been rowing for around 10 years now, and while I have achieved things I never thought I would in the sport, I still have somehow the drive to get up at 5:30am to go out on the water whether it is absolutely chucking it down, snowing, gale force winds you name it we will be out there rowing. It’s not a glamorous sport that’s for sure, you get blisters on your hands, you tend to get at least one injury a year if not more, training is pretty painful and stretches you to your limits, and you barely find the time to do anything else when a competition is coming up.  It is quite literally blood sweat and tears, but the satisfaction of being the top of your game is completely worth it. It isn’t just about the gruelling training you have to endure that our coach Andy Finlay puts us through, it’s the way you become a team as a whole and in your crews.


Leeds Beckett Rowing Varsity Team & Supporters 2016.

In most rowers or clubs there is an end goal. For us it’s BUCs Regatta at the end of the season, where all the teams across the country get involved and see who ends up on top. With people like Oxford Brookes and Newcastle to beat who have ridiculous athletes, we are just going to put ourselves out there as a representation of the university and club. What’s even better is that we have more girls this year to represent, not only show this national campaign really does work but prove that we can do it just as good as the boys can.

If it wasn’t for rowing, I think my university experience would be pretty dull but I also wouldn’t of met such a good group of people, and really be able to embrace that #ThisGirlCan.

From the left – Connie Lewis (Women’s Captain) & Jo Dennis (Previous year rower)
From the left – Connie Lewis (Women’s Captain) & Joanne Dennis (Previous year rower).

To read more about This Girl Can:

If you’d like to get involved in rowing please contact Holly Barr at

Written by Holly Barr

Edited by Dan Wood

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