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B.C. fitness advocate says more women needed in the industry



A B.C. fitness group is raising awareness about the gender gap in their industry following International Women’s Day in early March.

While other industries have a 52 per cent to 48 per cent ratio of men to women in leadership positions, the fitness industry sees a 71 per cent to 28 per cent, according to the Government of Canada Job Bank.

Nastasia Genova, Vice President of Fitness Services at Fitness World tells CityNews that the reason there’s a bigger gender gap in the fitness industry is that historically it’s been a male-dominated space.

“The early days we weren’t seeing many women even exercising, and so you’re not going to work in a gym if you don’t feel comfortable to exercise in the gym,” she said.

“Over the past decades, we’ve started to see a big change in the engagement of women with exercise inside of gym facilities. And so with that is also going to come woman wanting to work.”

The YWCA Metro Vancouver found that women make up around 45 per cent of entry-level employees, but only 25 per cent are vice presidents and 15 per cent are CEOs in Canada.

It said women are 30 per cent less likely to be promoted while men advance three times more.

Genova says she’s advocating for more women in leadership positions because diversity and inclusion are important to her.

“We’re only going to go so far in reaching our community if we only have one gender engaged from a service and a leadership standpoint,” she said.

“Our goal is to make fitness accessible and reachable and doable for everyone in the community.”

The advocate says representing different people is important to inspire and engage the community.

“For them to feel comfortable and confident by being able to connect with different types of people, which obviously females would be a really important part of that equation,” she said.

Genova says it is important for young women to see women in leadership roles in fitness.

“They can see the possibility of them being able to also grow and make this a career,” she said.

She uses her gym as an example. The gym she works at is 44 per cent to 56 per cent, men to women in leadership roles — more balanced than the national average.

Genova says the diversity at her gym makes a big difference.

“We’ve also found that by including different ethnicities, genders, and women into our leadership team, it actually makes our business incredibly stronger because we have different views. We have different personalities. We have different levels of emotional connectivity,” she said.

She says having a diverse group of leaders has seen higher team member retention and great financial results.

“So you can’t have all men in leadership positions when you have over half your members that are women. So you need to have the relatability across the board in order to grow people and also to grow the business,” Genova said.

“I think the women on the team are a big part of why we nurture and why we’re able to attract a lot of diversity onto our team.”

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