“The fitness industry is surprisingly a women’s business by number and influence. In fact, 75 percent of IDEA’s members, which include personal trainers, group fitness instructors, program directors and business owners, are women.” -Kathie Davis, founder and executive director of IDEA Health and Fitness Association, the world’s leading organization for fitness and wellness professionals.
The culture around women’s fitness is changing. More women are involved in strength training, and “strong is the new skinny” is becoming the new motto. Even though women have a strong role in the fitness industry, there is still a definite gender gap that female professionals, trainees and athletes are working to overcome. In an interview, Beth Shaw, founder of YogaFit training systems, commented that “even though women are the ones moving the industry forward, men are still the decision-makers.”
Many women’s magazines still focus on the new hot tip to lose weight, or get that “bikini body,” while men’s magazines discuss ways to build muscle and stay lean. Some of the problems women face are perpetuated by pop culture and high-profile celebrities and their trainers, who evoke thoughts of detox smoothies and spandex-clad women lifting pink dumbbells. Instead of empowering women with opportunities, they reinforce stereotypes of the “ideal” body type.
How do our female fitness professionals feel about all of this? We asked group exercise director Jeannie Cattafi what she thought!
Q: What made you want to get involved in the fitness industry/at the Y?
A: I really enjoyed the feeling of doing something I loved where I could help others too! Not to mention the health benefits that come along with the job. It’s important to embody the lifestyle you’re trying to teach others.
Q: Have you seen any changes from when you started?
A: My passion is primarily in group fitness and there has been a definite change in the types of workouts women want to do. We want more than just jumping jacks and grapevines. We want challenging workouts like boot camp, weight training and spinning. The goals are focused more on strength and endurance, not just weight loss.
Q: What stereotype or myth about women in the fitness industry would you most like to debunk?
A: That women shouldn’t lift heavy! Women have been taught to focus on cardio and avoid strength training because of the fear of “bulking up” or looking “manly.” In reality, women simply do not produce enough testosterone to get that result. Actually, increasing muscle mass will speed up your metabolism and you will burn more calories at rest, whereas with cardio, the burn stops when you do. It’s especially important to strength train as we age to combat loss of bone and muscle mass, and decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
Q: What advice can you give to women (both trainers and trainees) in the fitness industry?
A: There are so many different avenues within fitness now. From a variety a formats to train or teach in, especially groups. Don’t pigeonhole yourself to one fitness methodology.
At the Wyckoff Y, we’re committed to empowering women through fitness. From Bootcamp, Power Pump, R.I.P.P.E.D and more, check out all we have to offer in our Group Exercise Classes.