Associations are instrumental in developing their industries’ workforces. The newly launched Women in Fitness Association is working to increase the number of female leaders in its industry.
Through mentoring, education, and community, the Women in Fitness Association is working to build up female leaders in the fitness industry.
“The intention is that every woman in our industry that has a desire to be in a leadership role or wants to progress their career, [can have] a connection, [have] a community of people that they can partner with to do that with,” said Lindsey Rainwater, a consultant and WIFA founder and president.
Rainwater recently founded WIFA after she spent years in the fitness industry, not always knowing where to find other industry women to connect with. While she could search through LinkedIn or attend other annual meetings looking for female colleagues, “having a hub that is a place where people are flocking toward and they’re naturally there, it eliminates the need to have to go searching for them,” she said.
In addition to making initial introductions between members, WIFA’s quarterly topics discussions will provide ongoing connectivity for them. These virtual meetings will be a space for discussion on women’s leadership issues, such as dress and unspoken expectations, group fitness pay, roles inside a club, mothers and careers, how to negotiate salary, and starting a business.
Due to the current lack of female leadership in the fitness industry, WIFA especially aims to raise women up to more senior positions, such as to the level of executive or board member. Rainwater explained that female participation in the fitness industry overall is higher than male participation, but men tend to open more fitness facilities and fill more key leadership roles.
“I don’t think the fitness industry is exclusive of that, but I do think there’s an opportunity to raise awareness around the skillsets that these young women can embark on and embody them,” she said.
To help women embrace their leadership potential, a mentorship pairing program will be a large aspect of WIFA membership. It will give women with more advanced careers a chance to impart their wisdom, as well as help young women grow as they point out blind spots or areas for improvement and make important introductions.
“If we can have a community of people that that’s just baked into the culture of what we do—we mentor and mentee people to help them succeed beyond what they see they’re capable at this point—I see that as a way of accelerating leadership specifically for females in a place where maybe there hasn’t been much,” Rainwater said.
While WIFA will also offer in-person meetings, webinars, and networking opportunities, other benefits will give members opportunities to develop or practice new leadership skills. For example, at the virtual meetings, women can practice public speaking and share new ideas—opportunities they may not have in their usual work environment.
“As a professional in the industry and with relationships with many outstanding women who are serving and making a larger and positive impact, I realized the need to create a platform to discuss issues, initiatives, and what matters to women from our perspective,” Rainwater said in a press release. “The vision of our association is that every woman can find her place, make huge contributions, and rise to her fullest potential!”