International Women’s Day 2018: GB Rowing Team women’s squad #PressForProgress

Ellie Piggott from the GB Rowing Team’s women’s squad explains the motivation for the #PushForProgress press-ups video

World champion rower Ellie Piggott, along with her teammates from the GB Rowing Team women’s squad,  were spurred into action when they heard that the hashtag for International Women’s Day 2018 was #PressForProgress.

Together, they came came up with the idea of shooting a video showing members of the squad doing press-ups to promote the campaign. Here, Ellie tells us how the project evolved.

How did you come up with the idea?
I came up with the idea back in January after a Skype call with my mentor through the Moving Ahead Athlete-to-Business Scheme. She was telling me about how they were supporting the campaign at her work, and that this year’s hashtag was #PressForProgress. Later that day we had press ups in our weights session and the idea was born!

What does #PressForProgress mean to you?
There has been fantastic momentum in the world of women’s sport in recent years, and this is about adding momentum to the pace of that change. In rowing we are in a unique position where there is near equal participation in our sport, and as a large all female sport’s team I think we have a responsibility to do what we can to encourage younger women in particular to get involved.

This year’s #PressForProgress is a great opportunity to support and promote women’s sport, and celebrate our squad as positive role models. For this project we’ve taken a very literal interpretation of #PressForProgress by doing press ups to celebrate and promote women’s strength in a physical sense. I see this campaign as part of a larger goal of encouraging and inspiring women – and particularly young women – to get involved in sport and recognise their own strengths.

What do you hope will happen as a result?
I hope that our video will encourage women across the country and regardless of age to get involved in celebrating each other’s strength and athleticism. We’ve had a lot of fun putting it together and the clips are from training camps in Portugal and Spain, and our two home gyms at Caversham and Bisham Abbey. Thank you to the National Lottery for their ongoing support that enables us to train in these amazing locations. I’m excited to see all the different crazy press up formations people come up with, and range of groups that get involved.

Often strength and strength training is seen as a male attribute, but our team is a great example of strong, athletic women excelling in their field. We are fortunate to be in an environment where our strength, grit and determination is celebrated, and we hope that sharing it through this project will help enable those qualities to be celebrated in the rest of society.

We are very lucky to have a fantastic strength and conditioning coach from the EIS, Nicole, who is always pushing us on and creates tough but enjoyable sessions for us in the gym. She features in the video doing the craziest press ups!

What piece of advice would you give to any young girl currently rowing? 
My advice would be to keep enjoying it, and stay focused on the fundamentals. It’s easy to get caught up in the small details, but a crew that does a few simple things together really well will always move the boat better.

What inspires your about your teammates?
Their consistent hard-work and enthusiasm. Anyone can train hard for one session in the sunshine, but to repeat that day after day in all conditions is so impressive. They are not only great athletes, but great people to spend time with, and that makes for an awesome atmosphere within our squad.

Who has been an inspirational woman in your life?
My sister. She is two years older than me and growing up she was always a great example to me. If she wanted to do something, she would go for it with determination and enthusiasm. She now lives in South Africa, but continues to inspire me from afar (and via FaceTime!).

Inspired by the work of our GB Rowing Team women’s squad? Why not sign up to a Women’s Training Day, held in locations across the country this April? Find out more here.