This Girl Can Week: supporting Victorian women to be active again after COVID

Newly-released VicHealth research suggests that during 2020 and the Coronavirus pandemic, women’s physical activity levels were more severely impacted than men’s, with half of Victorian women exercising less than before Coronavirus and 3 in 4 women stopping sport.

To provide greater support for women to return to exercise or try something for the first time, VicHealth is launching This Girl Can Week (22-28 March 2021), with a range of accessible and fun activities – both in person around Victoria and online.

According to a new VicHealth survey of over 1500 Victorian women, a major challenge faced when exercising during 2020 was juggling home schooling and being able to prioritise exercise.

That said, of the 59% of women who exercised at home during the pandemic, around 57% used online exercise programs to stay active, with respondents saying they felt less judged at home and it gave them a sense of structure and improved mental wellbeing.

This Girl Can Week will see a range of free online and in person activities across the state, based on the learnings and insights provided by this latest research. One example, is a new statewide This Girl Can hub, at Melbourne’s Fed Square where in-person and livestreamed and pre-recorded classes will be held throughout the week.

VicHealth’s Head of This Girl Can – Victoria Melanie Fineberg said This Girl Can Week is the perfect opportunity for women who’ve taken a break from exercise during Coronavirus to get back into it.

“Research has shown us that women’s physical activity has been more severely impacted than men’s due to Coronavirus, with more women exercising less, being inactive and stopping their involvement in sport altogether,” Ms Fineberg said.

“Women have told us that the increased juggle of home schooling during coronavirus had an impact on their ability and motivation to prioritise exercise, so we’re here to help.  

“We want women to know it’s common to take a break from a sport or other type of activity, and it is completely understandable during a pandemic. There’s no judgement if you haven’t exercised in a while, all that matters is that you give it another go.

“This Girl Can Week is the perfect time to get back into physical activity, with a range of free, fun, non-judgemental activities offered across the state, both in person and streaming online. This Girl Can also has a huge range of free online home workout sessions which can be watched anytime at”

This Girl Can Week is part of the larger This Girl Can – Victoria campaign, which first launched in 2018 and has so far inspired hundreds of thousands of women to get active, right across the state.

Featuring everyday women from right across Victoria, the campaign features women getting active their own way. There are no models or actors, no Instagram influencers or elite athletes – just everyday women getting active however, wherever and whenever they choose.

Victorian women are encouraged to join the This Girl Can movement by heading to and joining the community on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and follow the #ThisGirlCanVic.

In order to provide women with more inclusive opportunities to get active This Girl Can Week will be held across Victoria from 22-28 March 2021. Federation Square will host free activities on site and will also stream online classes. Women can find activities and events in their local area via Sports clubs, councils, gyms or community groups interested in hosting a This Girl Can Week activity are encouraged to register as a campaign supporter at


Media note: Local interviews and images available on request.

Key stats:

A new VicHealth survey of over 1500 women found:

  • 2 out of 5 (39%) turned to exercising at home for the first time during the pandemic
  • 19% of women who exercised at home said they hadn’t been active before
  • Of women who exercised at home during the pandemic, around 57% used online exercise programs to stay active
  • 40% of women who started exercising at home for the first time have continued to do so. 
  • Major barriers for women getting active at home included juggling childcare responsibilities and being able to prioritise their exercise.

VicHealth’s Coronavirus Victorian Wellbeing Impact Study of over 2000 Victorians found:

Campaign research:

About this Girl Can:

This Girl Can – Victoria is a six-year VicHealth campaign aiming to increase physical activity among Victorian women. It focuses on less active women and supports gender equality by challenging traditional gender roles and stereotypes in sport and by celebrating women.

This Girl Can – Victoria is the local implementation of the original ‘This Girl Can’ campaign in England, which is owned and operated by the English Sports Council (Sport England). Sport England used National Lottery funding to create the This Girl Can campaign in 2015.

VicHealth is the first organisation in the world to license the campaign from Sport England. VicHealth is promoting This Girl Can – Victoria in partnership with a range of organisations and community groups across the state including high profile sporting codes, sporting clubs and charities.

Watch the 2021 This Girl Can – Victoria campaign.

This Girl Can Week 2021

22 to 28 March 2021 

This Girl Can Week is back! ​

With gyms, physical activity providers and studios offering beginner-friendly activities and virtual classes across Victoria, this is the perfect time to try something new or get back into an activity you love!

Find activities and classes near you
Try an online workout here​

Host an event

Host a free introductory session at your club, centre or studio or online during This Girl Can Week (22 to 28 March 2021) to encourage women in your community to give your activity a go!​

  • Download the 2021 Supporter Toolkit from the Supporter Hub (includes NEW tips to maximise your Facebook event for This Girl Can Week on pages 20-21)​
  • Plan your event* Think about activities you can offer online, as well as face-to-face. ​
  • Create a Facebook event listing and add us as ‘co-host’ (please note we will not have website listings in 2021 so Facebook is the key listing!).​
    (Please note we will not have website listings in 2021). ​

*All physical activity providers should check the Victorian Government’s Coronavirus website for the most up to date COVIDSafe guidelines for your sport or recreational activity and in your local area. Please ensure you have an updated COVIDSafe Plan. 

How your next gym visit will be different

As restrictions change and gyms and fitness centres can reopen, things will be a little different compared to pre-coronavirus.

For many of us, the latest round of Victorian Government’s reduced restrictions is an exciting milestone.

Whether you’re unsure what to expect when you head back to a gym or fitness class, or you’re a gym owner who could use some guidance on how to make it go smoothly, we’ve got tips to help. 

Tips for members: get yourself ready to ‘work it out’

We know that getting ready to work out isn’t just about finding clean exercise clothes or checking a gym timetable, it’s about getting yourself mentally prepared and motivated to be active, so here’s what you can do. 

Tip 1: Know what your gym, fitness centre or health club is doing to help keep you safe

When gyms, fitness centres and health clubs reopen there will be Victorian Government-led restrictions as well as a few extra processes in place to help keep everyone safe from coronavirus.

So before your first visit, take some time to find out how your gym or rec centre will operate:

  • Will there be restrictions on what you can use/bring along?
  • Do you need to make a booking before you go?
  • Will the length of your visit be the same?
  • Will there be new places to wait before or after your class?

The more informed you are, the smoother things will go and more confident you will feel.

Tip 2: Give others the benefit of the doubt

It’s normal to feel worried or anxious about returning to public spaces, especially places where people share equipment, sweat and are indoors. But instead of being on the defensive, try to remember that we’re all in this together, and be kind to one another.

This includes giving others the benefit of the doubt. Feel like someone is getting too close? They’re probably trying to do the right thing and perhaps feel unsure about how to stay distant without being rude, just as you might be. A quick, friendly conversation can help everyone navigate physical distancing and other measures your gym may have introduced to keep members safe.

Here are some friendly ways to have these conversations and polite ways to ask people to keep their physical distance here.

Tip 3: Use this as a time to set new goals or resolutions

Ever wondered why people set New Year’s resolutions or start a goal on a Monday? It’s because research tells us that when people close one chapter and open another – like coming out of coronavirus restrictions  –  it can help them feel motivated to start or return to activities.

So use this moment in time as an opportunity to get moving and feel the benefits of being active in a way that suits your body and empowers you to feel good.

Tip 4: Be kind to yourself and celebrate your milestones

Everyone’s experiences over the past few years have been extremely personal and unique, with no two stories being the same. That’s why when you start to return to your old routine or look to start a new routine, it’s important you acknowledge how your body or wellbeing may be different to those around you. 

If you don’t jump straight back into your routine, that’s okay! Give yourself the time and space to adjust and re-find your grove in a way that suits you.  

Try to avoid comparing yourselves to those around you, this process should be about how you feel and ways to move that are right for you. 

Take the time to acknowledge your achievements, whether you got up early to be active, tried something new or checked in with your body, those are all fantastic milestones! 

If you run a fitness class or program, read these top tips

It’s an exciting time for gyms, fitness centres and health clubs who are getting ready to reopen their doors and return to working in a physical space with their members.

Just make sure communicating with your members is part of your planning, so they feel confident and prepared before they walk through your door.

Tip 1: Tell your members what you’re doing to keep them safe

You can help your members feel safe and reassured by being clear and transparent about how you will be cleaning your venue, meeting physical distancing requirements, and any other measures you’ll be introducing to ensure everyone’s safety.

Tip 2: Prepare your staff for every scenario

If a member arrives with a bucketload of questions, you don’t want them to be faced with a staff member who can’t provide answers. That could make them question whether your gym, centre or club is properly prepared.

That’s why it’s important to ensure your team is confident with your new procedures, and fully understand the latest government requirements. A quick meeting with staff can help everyone get on the same page. It’s then important to keep them informed by calling, emailing or printing and displaying signage with the key information to help your staff feel comfortable and confident when they’re working.

Tip 3: Stay up to date with the latest announcements

We’re in the midst of a once-in-a-generation pandemic so it’s really important to stay up-to-date with the latest restriction measures.

We recommend you head straight to the source instead of relying on media or other individuals for the correct and most recent advice.

Follow the Department of Health on Facebook and regularly check the dedicated coronavirus websiteVicsport have also pulled together a wide variety of resources designed specifically for physical activity providers.

Have a coronavirus question?

For all coronavirus questions visit or call the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) hotline on 1800 020 080.

Logo: Staying apart keeps us together

This Girl Can Week 2020 postponed due to coronavirus

Due to the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation in Victoria, we are postponing our This Girl Can Week of activities until further notice.

A new date for This Girl Can Week 2020 (originally scheduled for 23-29 March) will be announced later in the year.

Based on the most up-to-date health and safety advice from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), we believe this is the most responsible option, given the threat COVID-19 poses to our community.

For the latest information on the COVID-19 situation in Victoria, visit

Forget what people think – you can set your own rules

Li is an international student from China who used to worry about what people thought of her when she was exercising.

“You’re a girl, you don’t need to look muscly. You just need to be pretty,” she used to think.

“Ladies don’t sweat!”

Li realised she wanted to live according to her own rules and not let others dictate her fitness habits.

“When I’m doing sport, I feel sweaty and then it’s like my soul is telling me ‘oh you’re so good! Your energy is all here and you’re like the best person in the world!’ It’s brilliant.”

Li has ridden her bike for the past three months, but she aspires to keep practising and improving her speed.

“You have no idea how much you can achieve by yourself if you don’t do it. So just do it!

If you didn’t worry about what people thought, what would you try? Check out some ideas for getting active.

Silencing the self-doubt

Kate always loved getting involved in mainstream sport and competitions.

Her family supported her passion, and encouraged physical activity, but when she was 12 she started to experience opponents making fun of her abilities. Kate is deaf, and was treated differently by other teenagers.

After an ACL injury in her twenties, she was no longer able to participate in netball and tried going to the gym.

“I went three or four times and didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t like it. I felt fearful of being there,” she said.

With the help of a physio and an interpreter, she learned a few exercises and started to gain her confidence back.

From this experience, Kate realised she should not let a fear of judgement affect her ability to keep fit.

“Give it a try and just do it and if it doesn’t work in that sport, or that activity, try another sport. Enjoy it and just be yourself.”

Feeling inspired? You too can work towards getting active in a supportive environment. Explore a variety of activities to try.

Social sport – without worrying about a uniform

Jo doesn’t always feel comfortable in her own skin and feels embarrassed when wearing exercise pants (we hear you!).

She used to run when she was younger but as a busy mum, she struggles to find the time to keep fit.

She decided to join Rock Up Netball and get moving.

Rock Up Netball is a social netball game for women aged 15 years and older.

Skill level is not important – the sessions focus on getting women moving.

“It’s just the adrenaline I suppose and the accomplishment of feeling, ‘you know what, I did it…

“It’s just that feeling that you’ve had a really good sweat and you think I’ve done something for me today,” explained Jo.

Find out more about Rock up Netball or check out other ways to get active.

Connecting women through Daughters of the West

Moving to a new country was daunting for Quyen. Without a strong social network, she struggled to find the time and motivation to keep active.

She was introduced to the Western Bulldogs’ Daughters of the West program after taking an interest in watching AFL.

Daughters of the West brings women together, encouraging them to get active and to try new sports and activities.

“Since I joined the programs, I (made) some new friends and we still remain (in) that friendship until now,” said Quyen.

“I feel stronger, I feel better,” she said.

Want to get involved? Meet women like Quyen at Daughters of the West, or check out other ways to get active.

Victorian women encouraged to show This Girl Can

Almost 400,000 Victorian women have been inspired to get active as a result of VicHealth’s This Girl Can campaign and now the foundation is seeking more everyday women to come on board as ambassadors.

Four women recording their stories and looking into a webcam

This Girl Can – Victoria, which features real local women instead of professional athletes or airbrushed Instagram models, has led to an incredible one in five Victorian women increasing their physical activity since the campaign launched in March 2018.

In an effort to inspire even more women to get active, VicHealth will launch a new This Girl Can – Victoria ad early next year featuring more Victorian women. The foundation is on the hunt for a diverse range of women across the state to star in the new TV commercial and become ambassadors for the program.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos encouraged Victorian women to share their stories of being active and overcoming judgement for the chance to become a This Girl Can – Victoria ambassador and feature in the new ad.

“This Girl Can – Victoria is all about empowering women to smash the stereotypes about what they can and can’t do in the gym, on the sporting field or in our neighbourhoods. We want all women to feel comfortable in getting active however, whenever or wherever they choose,” Minister Mikakos said.

“Embarrassment or a fear of being judged shouldn’t be a barrier in improving your physical and mental health – it’s great to see this campaign’s success in combatting this.”

VicHealth Acting CEO Dr Lyn Roberts AO said the campaign’s phenomenal results showed the power of seeing ‘real’ everyday women getting active.

“It’s brilliant to see that one in five Victorian women have been inspired by the campaign to set aside their fears of judgement and intimidation to get more active,” Dr Roberts said.

“Before the campaign, our research showed more than half of Victorian women were worried about being judged while exercising – for 41 per cent this fear of embarrassment was so bad it stopped them from getting out and active.

“Now almost 90 per cent of women who’ve seen the campaign feel it’s helped women increase their confidence and overcome their fear of being judged when being active.

“You can’t be what you can’t see. This Girl Can – Victoria is the opposite of “fitspo” influencers who make us feel like we’re not good enough. The women in our campaign are real people with real life fears and struggles. Women relate to them and think if she can – so can I!”

Dr Roberts encouraged women who’ve felt intimidated or judged when being active to share their story to help others enjoy the benefits of being active.

“We want to hear from women who’ve ever felt intimidated to join a sports team or were worried about being heckled going for a jog in the park, but who now stare down their inner and actual critics and get active anyway,” she said.

“Your experiences can help inspire other women to discover the incredible benefits of being active – we want to create a Victoria where every woman truly can.”

All Victorian women have the opportunity to share their story to be part of the new This Girl Can – Victoria campaign, with the chance to feature in the television advertisements which will air in early 2020.

Women can submit their stories and find out more at

Watch the original This Girl Can – Victoria.

Local case studies, interviews and images available on request.

For editors:

This Girl Can – Victoria is a six-year VicHealth campaign aiming to increase physical activity among Victorian women. It focuses on less active women, and supports gender equality by challenging traditional gender roles and stereotypes in sport and by celebrating women in this space.

This Girl Can – Victoria is the local implementation of the original ‘This Girl Can’ campaign in England, which is owned and operated by the English Sports Council (Sport England). Sport England used National Lottery funding to create the This Girl Can campaign in 2015.

VicHealth is the first organisation in the world to license the campaign from Sport England. VicHealth is promoting This Girl Can – Victoria in partnership with a range of organisations and community groups across the state including high profile sporting codes, sporting clubs and charities.

Key stats:

  • More than 396,000 Victorian women were more active after seeing the campaign
  • This Girl Can – Victoria inspired 1 in 5 women aged between 18-65 across the state to get more active
  • Almost 90% of women who saw the ad believe it helped women be more confident
  • 52% of Victorian women worry about being judged when exercising
  • 41% of Victorian women are too embarrassed or intimidated to get active
  • More than half of Victorian women are not sufficiently active, participating in less than 30 minutes of physical activity on four or more days a week
  • One in ten don’t do any physical activity in a week

Keep your This Girl Can Week going this April!

Now that you have given physical activity a go or returned after a break like Chrissy Biggin from Redan (near Ballarat), Premier’s Active April is a no brainer to help keep going! Registrations are now open for the 11th annual Premier’s Active April, encouraging Victorians of all ages, abilities and fitness levels to exercise 30 minutes a day during April.

Registration for Premier’s Active April is free, and everyone who signs up will have the opportunity to receive free access to a local gym, as well as a host of fitness freebies and incentives, including 15% discount for Rock Up Netball programs.

Chrissy is one of thousands of Victorians trying out new ways to get active thanks to Active April. We asked her some questions about participating in Rock Up Netball and how it’s made a difference to her. 

How does Active April motivate you to be more active? 

I have participated in Premier’s Active April for a few years now. I like the feeling of being held accountable for my activity and motivates me to do some form of exercise every day.

You have been playing netball all your life, what were the reasons why you gave Rock Up Netball a go? 

After doing my ACL and needing a knee reconstruction I wanted to get back into netball but was cautious about injuring myself again. I missed netball so much and wanted to be involved but without the physical and serious competition I was used to. Rock Up Netball gave me this option without the pressure on my body.

How did you find out about Rock Up Netball? Did you go along to the first session with a mate?

I first saw Rock Up Netball advertised on Facebook. I saw it was available in my local area so signed up to participate. I took a friend to my first session but found I didn’t really need anyone else with me as the rest of the group was so friendly and supportive. It’s always nice to have a familiar face but not essential.

Why do you love Rock Up Netball? 

I love that you don’t have to sign up and commit for a season. It’s so flexible that if you have something on one night and can’t make it, there are no consequences or a team relying on you. I love the variety between the play, train and exercise sessions.

It’s fun, social and as challenging as you want to make it. It’s a really good workout without thinking you are doing a ‘workout’. The games are fun but physical and I find I quickly work up a sweat. There are lots of smiles and plenty of laughs.

What should you know before going along to a Rock Up Netball session? 

It’s super fun! It’s a great workout that doesn’t revolve solely around netball.

I have met so many lovely people. Anyone can do it – any age, any ability, any gender. Just take a positive attitude and a drink bottle!


This year, Active April participants will have access to the new ‘Get Active Workouts’ video series, free to all registered participants via the mobile or web app. There will be a video for every day of the month, covering everything from upper body and core, to whole body workouts, as well as balance and stability, Pilates and yoga. There is something for everyone, no matter what age or fitness level. Here’s a little sneak peek at what’s in store this April –

So what are you waiting for? Register for Premier’s Active April today –