Post written by Analee Matthews from OH! Magazine & Gym Click Media Newsroom
When I first heard whispers of an official association for women in the fitness industry, I said to myself “self, that’s a great idea”, especially thinking back to when I attended IHRSA (many moons ago), when they had a mini-event specifically targeting women in fitness. I’d attended and found extremely beneficial and something that I thought the local industry should consider integrating into a FILEX or expo type event.
Much to my dismay, despite my insistence it didn’t happen back then, but a few years ago FILEX finally introduced the annual Women of Influence Lunch (insert happy dance!) – better late than never I suppose!
Now, when I discovered the Women In Fitness Association (WIFA), I instantly thought such an association for us ladies is a fantastic idea. However, I almost immediately baulked at the fact it was based overseas. In fact, I recall saying to myself “self, why would I pay money overseas, to be part of a group that is probably all USA USA, and therefore probably not even relevant to what is happening within the fitness shores of our great southern land?”
However, I recently had the pleasure of catching up with the association’s passionate founder, Lindsey Rainwater, who set me straight on all things WIFA, including an explanation that has convinced me to put my hand in my pocket this year, and sign up!
To help you learn more and assess the value of joining WIFA for yourself, below is a summarised version of the questions I asked, and the answers I received from Lindsey. You can also find out lots more (and sign up) at www.womeninfitness.org
Q. WIFA was launched last year (2017). How did you establish it, and what were your goals for the association when you set it up?
A. I actually didn’t have any goals for the association when I first set it up. I kind of just put the idea out there, and worked closely with a couple of ladies who are a lot smarter than me, to make sure all the proper filings were done so we could operate as a legitimate a not-for-profit.
I had a few international relationships even though I have not travelled abroad much; I’d met some international leaders at tradeshows and I was so flabbergasted by the expression of interest I received. For example, when we called out for applications to join the Board of Directors, I had 12 iconic women apply to be part of it.
The types of services we offer to our members include:
- Quarterly online meetings, where we have a panel of speakers on a topic that is chosen by our members via a crowdsourcing and open sharing process
- Live meetings in March at IHRSA, in the USA.
- Regular blogs where members can submit their work to be published; this enables them to add “published author/contributor” to their portfolio of experiences.
- Speaking opportunities at future events.
Six months in, and I was hoping to have 10 to 20 local people to meet up with at IHRSA this year, but we actually have global representation and large health club chains reaching out to us, asking to partner with us. So I feel very optimistic about its success for this year and beyond.
I was very surprised too, at how much interest I received from New Zealand and Australian women in the industry; and in fact, some of our most active current members are from that region.
Q. Tell me why other women here in the Australian fitness industry – or anyone based outside the US – should join WIFA?
A. There are four key reasons to join:
- There is no equivalent organisation in Australia or New Zealand for women in fitness.
- It’s a not-for-profit association, so you know your fees will always be reinvested into supporting your needs and those of other women in fitness.
- The services held by WIFA defy geographical boundaries; they’re relevant and accessible to all women from all over the world.
- The establishment of local “chapters” in other countries are being encouraged/planned for the future.
To learn even more, you can also listen online to an interview with Lindsey, when she was interviewed by Mel Tempest as part of the Gym Owners’ Business Podcast, at www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-zktup-8644ff#.WnRVNC5sJD4.facebook