UBC Undergraduate Research

Women’s Barriers to Physical Activity Programs Organized by UBC Recreation Che, Selina; Diaz Nieto, Juan; Molnar, Jackie; Wong, Kaitlyn


Currently, UBC Recreation offers six Women’s Only Programs which include Women Only Fitness Hours, Move More, Learn More, UBC Intramural W2STGN Category, Women’s TSC (Thunderbirds Sport Club), Women’s Only Drop-in Futsal, and Women on Weights. These programs were created to provide self-identifying women with a fun, safe, and comfortable environment, encouraging equitable participation in physical activity (University of British Columbia Recreation). Our research purpose was to evaluate the community’s awareness and satisfaction with current programs, assess perceived barriers preventing participation, determine if there is a desire for additional Women’s Only Programs (and if so, which ones), and provide recommendations to UBC Recreation. All participants (n= 98) that were recruited live in the Metro Vancouver region and are self-identifying women currently enrolled at UBC Vancouver as undergraduate students. Participants were directed to the qualtrics survey and were asked a series of Likert type and open-ended questions. The research highlighted four key findings. First, the majority of community members were unaware of Women’s Only Programs with 76% of survey participants stating that they did not participate in Women’s Only Programs because they did not know they existed. In addition, above other promotion methods, 33% of participants learned about Women’s Only programs through word of mouth. Second, confusion regarding specific program details, such as location, existed among survey participants, suggesting an overall lack of clarity about program details among community members. Third, 22% of participants disagreed with the statement “I am satisfied with the variety of Women’s Only Programs” suggesting that participants were uninterested in the current array of programs. Further 71% of individuals were interested in asynchronous guided workouts in a virtual format. Finally, 76% of participants stated that they would feel more comfortable participating in Women’s Only Programs at UBC if the instructor of the program was a self-identified woman, suggesting a potential positive correlation between the prevalence of women instructors and participation rates. In response to the findings, there are four future recommendations for UBC Recreation that if implemented, could reduce barriers to Women’s Only Programs and increase participation rates and satisfaction. First, UBC Recreation could increase their use of social media to advertise Women’s Only Programs, thus increasing community awareness. Second, UBC Recreation can increase the clarity of programs and simplify the registration process in order to make accessing classes and program details easier. Third, they can incorporate additional activities suggested by community members, such as yoga and boxing in a women’s only format, along with incorporating new methods of delivering programs, such as virtual classes. Four, they can recruit more women instructors and increase the community’s awareness that Women’s Only Programs are led by these self-identified women. One area for future research could be assessing how a lack of representation in Women’s Only Program instructors is a potential barrier that exists to discourage community members from participating in these programs. In addition, due to the limited number of survey participants who took part in Women’s Only Programs (only 12%), it was difficult to assess the community’s satisfaction with specific programs. Therefore, once participation rates in Women’s Only Programs increase, an avenue for future research could include a more thorough assessment of each program’s quality and effectiveness. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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