125 Years of Physical Culture Empowers Women Today

Rebecca Varidel
19th Jun 2017

This year, Australian sports movement Physical Culture celebrates 125 years since its inception. The organisation will be marking the occasion with the BJP 125 Year Spectacular on 24 June at the Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, with 2,000 girls and women from across Australia performing at this truly unique event. 

Physical Culture - or Physie as its affectionately known - has certainly stood the test of time. The sport was set up before Australia was federated and before the Australian Navy existed. Its rich history includes the use of the Prince of Wales’ (Edward VIII) feathers as an emblem in 1920, to being part of the opening ceremony for the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. 

Physie’s motto is ‘empowering girls for life’ and is a fusion of dance and sport for girls and women, from ages 3 to 73, across Australia. 

Jackie Rawlings, Managing Director of Physical Culture says she’s incredibly proud of the work that thousands of volunteers have put in over 125 years to create such an important legacy for the country, however, she’s increasingly concerned about the pressures young women are under. 

“In 2017 our young women are increasingly sedentary, device driven, isolated and often feel that they can never be good enough or perfect enough. In fact, a recent study found that 70 per cent of girls age 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities when they feel bad about their looks.

“Physie aims to empower girls and we do that in a number of ways. We prioritise the development of self-esteem in our students. We teach them to have a positive relationship with their bodies and help students blossom with confidence and self-assurance.”

The sport’s origins are in Hobart in 1892, when a Danish man from an athletic family decided to teach Australians what Scandinavians were doing to stay fit in mind and body.

Through the decades the activity has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australian families and has evolved to incorporate yoga moves, contemporary movement and a focus on girls and women, where initially it was a mixed sport.

The activity continues to grow. In the last five years the number of clubs has increased by 30 per cent and new clubs have recently sprouted up in London and Bali.

Rawlings states, “the reason we think Physie has withstood the test of the time is the supportive and nurturing community and the fact that generations of women can participate and compete together.

“It is not uncommon for grandmothers, mothers, daughters and grand-daughters to be members of the same club and share their involvement.

To find your nearest Physie class go to http://physicalculture.com.au/find-a-club/.

For details on the BJP 125 Year Spectacular, visit the Sydney Scoop calendar.