Why Everyone’s Going Wild for This Clip of Women Working Out

The U.K.’s ‘This Girl Can’ PSA shows how real women look when they exercise—and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Jan 18, 2015·
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

In a world of filtered (and Photoshopped) Instagram feeds, it’s easy to forget that being active involves few picture-perfect moments, some jiggling, and profuse perspiration. But as a new ad from the U.K. shows, that’s no reason to avoid breaking a sweat.

Sports England, a government-funded organization that motivates Brits to be physically active, recently launched a campaign called “This Girl Can” to encourage women to get moving. Its own research revealed that 75 percent of British females ages 14 to 40 want to become more active, but that insecurity is a big obstacle.

“Before we began this campaign, we looked very carefully at what women were saying about why they felt sport and exercise was not for them,” said Sports England CEO Jennie Price in a statement. “Some of the issues, like time and cost, were familiar, but one of the strongest themes was a fear of judgment. Worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough, and not skilled enough came up time and again.”

Hence this video, set to Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On.” It features shots of women of all ages running, cycling, Zumba dancing, punching bags, and kicking balls—and it’s been viewed more than two million times since its launch less than a week ago.

The campaign has taken off on Twitter with the hashtag #ThisGirlCan.

Recent findings suggest that the campaign has the potential to do more than give an inspiring pep talk:

According to a large-scale study just published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, lack of exercise causes twice as many premature deaths as obesity. The researchers studied 334,161 people across Europe over 12 years and concluded that deaths would be reduced by 7.35 percent if all inactive people—whether lean, overweight, or obese—got more exercise. On the other hand, the absence of obesity would only cut deaths by 3.66 percent. So, no matter what their shape or size, everyone benefits significantly from physical activity.

As for the women in the video, Price said they all have reasons for getting active.

“If you are wondering if you should join them—or carry on—this campaign says it doesn’t matter if you are a bit rubbish or completely brilliant,” she said. “The main thing is that you are a woman and you are doing something, and that deserves to be celebrated.”