International Women’s Day is a globally recognised date that celebrates and promotes visibility of women’s achievement, while tackling inequality across all sectors.
The 2022 theme is #BreakingtheBias, and to celebrate this theme we spoke to three incredible women of the fitness sector, who’ve supported the progression of women in our sector, as they broke stereotypes, barriers and biases. So what has changed in the past 10 years for women in fitness?
What was the fitness industry like for women 10 years ago?
“What has changed the last 10 years in a more obvious way is the role of women in the world of fitness,” explains Saly Marone, international training specialist at Basic-Fit. “We are much more visible in the clubs and hold varied positions.”
Remembering even the recent past is important. Previously, women often only held the front of house and host positions, but can now also be found in managerial, director, and C-suite roles across organisations.
Saly continues: “In short, the major change is that women themselves have changed their perception of their role in the fitness sector. They realised that they could widen their field of action and started daring more and taking on roles that were generally filled by men.”
In the days before her role as COO at the Women In Fitness Association, Jennifer Halsall-de Wit, similarly reminisces on the low number of female staff visible a decade ago. “When I started over 20 years ago as a personal trainer, I was one of the only women on the team,” she explains.
Why you should support women in your network.
There’s another difference in play today, with positions in the sector taken up through women supporting women. Jen continues: “Because the managing director of Sports Clubs of Canada and Bally Total Fitness Canadaof the Canadian market was a woman – Paula Comfort – many more women stepped into management positions. I had the wonderful opportunity of being one of those women placed in leadership positions and watching the gender balance shift.”
While enlightenment of opinions and increased empathy across the board – and in the board room – may be the positive improvements we wish to see in the world, we need to also understand the catalyst to what drives positive change to fight gender bias in fitness. This is the biggest lesson we can learn in order to keep making the step changes for more equality and inclusion around the world.
“What has changed is that we are more aware of the improvements that we need to make to be more inclusive in our sector,” explains Rachel Young, director of business development at Myzone EMEA.
“Conversations are starting, and there is an appetite to change. However, in all honesty, we need more action and less talk.” Rachel recognises the growth of the industry but we must keep highlighting how far it still has to go. She continues: “We just need to look around the office, the gym floor and the board room and see that we are still in a very white male dominant sector.”
What are you doing to support women in your business, or what can you do to encourage others to join you in creating an environment of positivity and performance? Rachel, Jennifer, and Saly give their insights into what needs to be done today and in the future to help keep the women's equality initiative moving here. Together we can keep the upward trend of encouraging more business leaders to stay fair, through remembering that better never stops. We’re stronger together.
Help roadmap future gender equality initiatives by taking part in Global Alliance and WIFA’s Gender Diversity in the Fitness Sector Survey.
A free, six-month WIFA Membership - if you’re a female in the sector; connect, network, grow, goal-get, support and be supported by WIFA’s global community. You can redeem this gift until March 15, 2022.