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Helen, Give it a Go – Swimming

I’m always on the lookout for a bargain so when I saw the information about woMEn TIME, Get Back Into – Swimming sessions, it was too good to resist! I first sort-of learned to swim at secondary school, nearly 50 years ago then tried again when my children were small about 25 years ago, but never really gained enough confidence to go out of my depth, and didn’t keep it up. Still, I really wanted a way to keep fit in the winter (long walks in the cold and wet are not so great), so I signed up.

As you might imagine, I approached the first session with some trepidation. The first good thing was that we were in the learner pool, so there was no worry about going out of my depth (in fact, the opposite was true, because I discovered that my knees touched the bottom if I didn’t hold a good position in the water). Rosie, the teacher, was great! She treated us like adults, taking the time to explain the reason why something was best done in a certain way. She didn’t deny our fear (I wasn’t alone in being a bit fearful), but gently encouraged us to work through it and focus on the practicalities of learning the strokes.

The classes were very small – never more than six people at the ones I attended, and sometimes two teachers – so we received lots of attention and support. We were able to progress at our own pace, but were constantly encouraged gently towards the next step. We were all women, of course, but of greatly varied ages, and some were a little more confident than others.

By the end of the four week course, I think every one of us had managed to swim at least one length of the learner pool without flotation aids. Wow! We were so proud of ourselves … and for each other! We’ve been told that there might be a follow-on class later in the year, to help build on our new skills and slowly growing confidence, not quite so cheap but still subsidised, and I will certainly sign up for that if it’s a time I can make. If not, I’m determined to keep practising so that this is third time lucky, and I finally acquire enough skill to swim with my grandchildren – before they are too old to be happy to be seen swimming with their granny.

Learn to Ride and Cycle Confidence

We had a total of 13 ladies on our cycle confidence sessions in Chelmsford and this is what they said:-

“Cycling in a group has made me feel safer on the road amongst traffic. Wearing proper clothing – a reflective, hi-visibility commuter jacket and a helmet can improve one’s command of cycling on the road. By cycling a metre away from the curb, positioning correctly at junctions (A, B, or C), checking for traffic behind by turning the right shoulder, hand/arm signalling for turning left or right can all add to a cyclist’s right of way on the road!”


“With the help instructors, it was extremely helpful to go out on the roads and get a better understanding of the ‘rules of the road’ while cycling.  In particular, their gentle yet specific guidance was quite helpful in gaining confidence to be on the road.”

“I found the sessions very enjoyable and will definitely enrol again if there should be any more available in the Spring. It helped my confidence, knowledge of cycles and gears, improved fitness, some degree of traffic sense. Thanks again for your help. I was amazed at how quickly I could pick up confidence to ride in such a short, but effective training course.”


“I only attended one Saturday morning session but refreshed on cycling skills not used for a while.  Also I learnt how to do a hill start on a bike. ”


“I could not cycle at all before, and now I can.  This is great.  All the volunteers were great, and I had some really great and patient teachers.”


Lily, Self-Defence 3 week course

I took part in the first Self Defence course through Women Time. I had been looking for courses for a while but wanted something that suited me rather not a than a high intensity martial arts style course. I got a lot more from the Women Time course than I expected. Learning about the theory behind self-defence and the laws and regulations about what is acceptable was really enlightening and probably gave me more to think about than most practical classes. Brainstorming about everyday ways to protect yourself and ensure that you stay out of harm’s way are now principals that I have taken on board and can easily remember to do in my day to day life. The practical element of the course was also fantastic; often I worry that self-defence classes focus too much on an individual’s physical strength, whereas Derek, our instructor, used skills that we learn from birth which can make more impact than I ever realised. This has given me far more confidence in the ability to protect myself, it’s not about being able to fight, it’s being aware, taking precautions to stay safe and learning basic tactics to distract and remove yourself from a situation. All of this combined, plus having Derek as our teacher who made the course interesting, accessible and enjoyable, meant the course was a great experience for everyone involved and a definite recommendation to all my friends!

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