Two locally-based gyms are targeting girls in a bid to get children more active this summer, following research by one of the organisations that showed just 12 per cent of 11-16 year old girls planned to play sport this summer.

The Nuffield Health survey was carried out in the first week of the summer holidays and found that despite women’s sports coverage – culminating in the Lionesses’ Euros win – over a quarter (28 per cent) of teenage girls say exercise is not important to them.

Meanwhile, 28 per cent of parents anticipate their daughters will stay indoors for four to seven days every week this summer.

This follows Nuffield Health’s Healthier Nation Index, which recently showed that women’s health had suffered most in the pandemic, with 47 per cent saying they had done no vigorous physical exercise in the last year.

Sport England’s Active Lives survey has also shown that 54 per cent of girls aged 11-16 are doing under 60 minutes of activity a day.

Nuffield Heath’s charity and medical director Davina Deniszczyc warned the new survey showed ‘this problem often starts in girls’ teenage years, with many reporting multiple barriers to physical activity’.

“If we don’t start knocking these (barriers) down for young girls now, we run the risk of this continuing into their adult lives, negatively impacting on both their physical and mental health,” she added.

The group’s clinical fitness specialist Olivia Tyler said: “I hear the same concerns all the time, especially from young women. It is a mixture of feeling self-conscious, worried about being embarrassed and not knowing what else they can do that goes beyond the traditional sports offered in school sports lessons.

“We are hoping to inspire young girls with fun activities they can do with their friends in convenient, safe spaces that will encourage participation over the summer and beyond.”

There is an exercise gap between boys and girls, with the Nuffield survey showing that 27 per cent of 11-16 year old boys planned to play sport this summer.

Meanwhile, 43 per cent of girls feel embarrassed while playing sports or exercising, compared to only 28 per cent of boys.

“Our ambition is to get as many young girls as possible active this summer without having to worry about cost,” added Davina Deniszczyc.

Cost and health were also the focus of local leisure centre operator Fusion Lifestyle, which runs the Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre in St John’s Road, The Weald Sports Centre in Cranbrook and Putlands Sport & Leisure Centre in Paddock Wood.