By Teresa Bennett, BTTC Coach & Head of Development.

The recent Sport England tweet has got me thinking; “During Lockdown 56% of women agreed that exercise is enjoyable and satisfying, but what about the other 44%?” Without a doubt women’s activity levels have been affected by the Covid crisis and many have had to adapt and find ways of fitting in exercise and activities, along with jobs, childcare and home schooling. This has made me reflect on whether we have risen to the challenge of making sure our BTTC girls and women members have stayed in touch and joined in the online active activities that we have put on in lockdown? Have these met their needs? Have these inspired them to keep active and fit?

During Lockdown 56% of women agreed that exercise is enjoyable and satisfying, but what about the other 44%?

For many I believe it has been a resounding yes. Firstly the BTTC Daily Show which started on March 19th and is now on Episode 85 has an even split of men and women of the total of 124 who have joined the show at least once, but on a closer look at the hard core of 25 regular members who avidly come on each day, 75% of these have been women. I feel proud that when other table tennis webinars and shows have been very male dominated in their guests and presenters, we have featured some incredible female Table Tennis role models as guests, including England Number 1 Tin Tin Ho, top coach and former number 1 Kelly Sibley, Lois Peake Top 10 and local Sussex star and Paralympian legend Karolina Pek. Although we are a Table Tennis Club and every Daily Show has had a Bat and Ball skills active session, it has been a marvel to watch talents unfold from our women members such as sharing and teaching art on the show, playing musical instruments, teaching us Makaton, thrilling us with magic and circus skills and leading us in dance fitness for example. They have been incredible and inspired each other to support and share. We have even gained a new member, a daughter of one of the Women’s group, who can’t wait to come to the club when we reopen, as she has loved the people on the zoom show.

From the BTTC Women’s WhatsApp group one member put “Looking forward to the show tonight. The sing along and dancing at the end and the Table Tennis Tips and skills were my highlights yesterday“

The Daily Show has just been one of 15 other BTTC online sessions that have run throughput lockdown. There are Yoga and Fitness zoom sessions for all abilities and the Fitness Gold, twice weekly which has been aimed more at our over 50s has attracted more women members. From our regular 15 attendees, 12 have been women. It could be because these sessions are run by women, BTTC Volunteer coach Anna Brookes and supported by myself, which makes our members feel comfortable and supported. From one of our regular participants “I’ve really enjoyed the exercises and connecting them to Table Tennis, it’s made me still feel part of the club.”

As we now move gradually back to playing outdoors on the tables across the city, our BTTC Women’s WhatsApp group has been vital not only for keeping in touch, but now to arrange and set up 1 to 1s on the outdoor tables. It was so pleasing to see last Wednesday morning the schedule on the outdoor table outside the club was women all morning. So many expressed how good it felt to play again and to catch up, but for many who still need to self-isolate the club zoom fitness sessions have been their lifeline. “Don’t underestimate how much it helps having this extra structure to my day”. However, the online sessions are not for all, and one member shared how she has not joined the Daily show as her whole day for her job has been on zoom so she could not face more online meetings, so for her being able to play on the outdoor tables again for the last 2 weeks has been a lifeline. So in essence we may not have invigorated every female member to join in our online activities but we have had a jolly good go!