“We know how easy it is to get into a scroll hole," say two PUMA employees about the overuse of mobile phones. Glorious heads to Manchester to find out how they kick a scrolling habit
By Imogen Clark
Photography by Claudia Agati
Today’s answer to boredom is to pick up your phone. Whether you are on your commute to work, waiting for a friend, or finding yourself with a spare hour on the weekend, we are all susceptible to reaching into our pockets for that rectangular piece of technology. Studies continually try to educate us on the risks of prolonged use, but the fleeting entertainment on the small screen seems to cloud our judgement. And upon discovering the statistic that on average women scroll 300 metres on their phone a day, the equivalent to 13 tennis courts, the extent to which we need to put our devices down and pick ourselves up became clear.
Hoping to be the starting gun for this change is the launch of PUMA300, an initiative that aims at giving women an incentive to get active offline rather than online – but with the challenge of doing something three hundred times.
“We all know we spend too much time on our phones but to be able to visualise quite how much we are scrolling – that’s quite powerful,” says Hannah Fryer, the UK Product Specialist for PUMA. “I think one of the great aspects of sport is that you have to put your phone down for an hour or two. You’ve literally got no choice and it’s actually super important to do that. Just to give your brain a little bit of a rest and be in the moment.”
Though it seems pretty self-explanatory to spend less time on our screens, Kat Hill, PUMA’S Retail Marketing Manager, understands how simple it is to just tap and scroll the time away. “We know how easy it is to get into a scroll hole,” where you just end up in the depths of a topic because you’ve been listlessly sitting there for so long. Even when we’re watching television, we take out an even smaller screen to just scroll without realising it,” adds Hannah.
Beyond the obvious physical benefits of going out to do something that will see you break into a sweat, both PUMA employees highlight the damaging mental health impact associated with overuse of our phones. “We’re now more connected than ever, which is important, and we are seeing what’s going on in other people’s lives but I think that can also have quite a negative effect, particularly on women,” explains Hannah. “Some of the stuff that we see on social media isn’t reality.” The irony of this being read online or the campaign video being promoted through social media is not lost on anyone, but the message is not to stop using your phones, it’s to spend less time on them.
“Everything in moderation is great,” confirms Kat. “I work in this industry, and we hear about these statistics all the time. We’re trying to target people on social media a lot, but we also know how easy it is to get sucked in and spend hours scrolling.” While she understands the ease of relaxing with your phone in your hand, Kat also knows that the serotonin boost after exercising is worth getting out of the house for. “I used to teach classes, and there were lots of days where I could not be bothered to move. I didn’t want to go to the gym and drag all those weighted hula hoops up the stairs, but every single time, without fail, when I was finished, I felt better. So it’s just about making yourself do it in the first place, because afterwards you never regret going.”
Had Kat not gone with her mum to a Powerhoop class in her early twenties after a suggestion from a close friend, she is unlikely to have found this niche that has revolutionised the way she exercises. Growing up in a sports-fuelled household, Kat immersed herself in all the sports on offer during her childhood, especially netball. “My thing was always team sports. I liked exercising but in a group. I was never that bothered about doing it on my own,” she explains.
Unafraid of giving new forms of exercise a go, she found herself in front of a woman “twice my age and so much fitter than I’ve ever been” with a bunch of Powerhoops (weighted hula hoops). “A lot of people think that Powerhoop classes are something for a middle-aged woman to do, and that’s quite a big stereotype. But I enjoyed it so much and found such a passion for it that I introduced it to all my friends. They ended up loving it and would come to my classes as you can make it as intense as you want.” It’s these alternative ways to give yourself a break from your newsfeed that are beneficial in more ways than one. And with the aim of 300, what will Kat be doing? “In my instance, I might aim for 300 rotations of the hoop in one way and then the other. But if your thing is running, you could do sprints or if you like football, you can do keepie-uppies or practise your skills”.
“I think it would be a tough test to do 300 keepie-uppies, but I could definitely try,” says Hannah enthusiastically. The former semi-professional footballer, now an employee of PUMA, is keen to tap into her favourite sport to find a way to push herself to hit that figure. “It’s quite a commitment, but it’s good to have something to aim for because I like having targets – it’s a challenge.” Like her colleague Kat, Hannah’s upbringing was centred around being active. Describing herself as “a child with a lot of energy” she would constantly find opportunities to be outdoors. “I think my parents encouraged it so I could have an outlet for my energy and use it in a positive way. I was always playing football, joining in with the boys and was the only girl who played football in primary school,” she explains, fondly recalling memories of watching Manchester United on the weekend and kicking a ball around in the garden with her dad. It didn’t take long for this combination of skill and passion to lead her further than her neighbourhood.
“That’s how I realised I could play at a higher level. It came from people saying ‘why don’t you bring her to the local boy’s scene and see how she gets on?’” This harmless suggestion led to her joining Tranmere Rovers at 12 years old and, a mere five years later, saw her don the famous light-blue Manchester City shirt. “That’s when I realised it was about to become more competitive. I was playing against women rather than girls of my age.” Still making her mark on the pitch, Hannah plays in the third division of women’s football for AFC Fylde. “I started playing as a forward or winger, and I gradually worked my way back. I’m a defender now – an attacking defender though.”
Whether you are more inclined to find a new way to get up and out like Kat, or are evolving your stance on the pitch like Hannah, the pair are both adamant about the benefits of silencing your notifications and breaking into a sweat instead. “Tell yourself it’s as easy as going on a walk or doing something that you’ve always wanted to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad at it, I think it’s just having the bravery and confidence to get involved,” urges Hannah. “You get to meet other people who have the same ability and who have the same motivations. Be bold and just go for it. Test yourself and enjoy it, that’s the best thing to do – just remember to push for 300.”