Cheltenham Ladies’ College is set to open a new multi-million pound health and fitness centre in 2018, as part of a wider strategy dedicated to increasing girls’ participation and engagement with sport and physical activity at a young age.
Over the last few weeks the facilities have been available for testing by students and have already hosted sessions with leading sport psychologist Dr Claire-Marie Roberts, Olympic Gold Medallist Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE, and leading sport scientist and conditioning coach Lizzie Sinton, as well as a number of tournaments involving state and independent schools.
The health and fitness centre includes a sports hall, multi-purpose activity studio, dance studio, squash courts, fitness gym, free weights and spin area, a rowing and erg area, and a range of other facilities, in addition to the existing sports hall and swimming pool.
These new facilities will allow the school to offer a wider range of sports and classes that can run throughout the year, helping pupils to enjoy and understand the importance of exercise and mental and physical wellbeing, both at school and throughout their lives.
Research shows that across the UK, girls’ participation in sport drops significantly in their teenage years. Low self-esteem and self-consciousness have been identified as factors influencing why girls drop out of playing sport at twice the rate of boys before adulthood. At this age, physical and mental fitness and wellbeing are not only important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but also in developing crucial skills such as teamwork, resilience and leadership.
There is no doubt that Cheltenham Ladies’ College produces some keen and capable sportswomen. Throughout their time there, each pupil typically spends more than 800 hours doing sport as part of the curriculum, aside from the many clubs, sports days, adventure days, and other activities that the college offers. Last year, the school had a fantastic 129 teams competing at a range of different levels, including many national achievements in equestrian, hockey, netball, lacrosse, swimming and athletics.
While these high-performing sportswomen will undoubtedly reap great rewards from the new centre and state-of-the-art training facilities available, the school is equally keen to promote the importance of sport and fitness at every level, regardless of ability. From the most ambitious athletes to those who simply enjoy the health benefits of exercise, the school is committed to providing the breadth of choice and facilities to allow each pupil to find her niche, from martial arts to yoga or hip-hop to scuba diving.
The new health and fitness centre follows on from a range of innovations around health and wellbeing at the school over the last few years. In 2015, under the leadership of current Principal, Eve Jardine-Young, the school launched a whole-school Wellbeing Programme as part of the curriculum, which includes sessions on age-appropriate topics such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, self-defence, coping with stress, study skills, and mindfulness.
Through this inclusive whole-school approach to fitness and wellbeing, the college aims to educate girls to develop and sustain life-long positive habits in relation to sport and exercise, enabling them to be resilient and fully equipped to take on the challenges of a complex world throughout their lives.