Gender Balance Still Lacking in Fitness Industry Leadership, Survey Says

Gender imbalance in the fitness industry workplace results in lower opportunities for promotion, gender discrimination and a lower salary for women, female leaders in the industry said, according to a recent survey by Sport Alliance and the Women in Fitness Association (WIFA), an association for women who work in the fitness industry.

"As non-executives, men and women face similar obstacles in their career paths, but as you climb the career ladder, the gender gap becomes more pronounced, resulting in disadvantages for women,” said Artur Jagiello, head of marketing and communications at Sport Alliance, a software company serving the fitness industry. “Being a boss in 2022 is unfortunately still a male domain."

Forty-seven percent of men surveyed who work in the fitness are in leadership while 36 percent of women are in leadership.

Men make up 70 percent of gym owners while women make up 29 percent of gym owners.

"These data show the trend that men are more likely to be in leadership roles in businesses than women,” said Maike Kumstel, international business developer at Sport Alliance. “Among the self-employed, most women are trainers rather than running their own businesses."

The global online survey was conducted between September 2021 and March 2022 with a total of 679 people working in the fitness industry participating. The data is not representative of the industry, but the results provide interesting insights into the structures of the industry, according to Sport Alliance.

Respondents cited feeling underestimated and not respected and having low chances of getting promoted as the major obstacles for reaching their career goals.

Women, however, also highlighted the fact that it is hard to combine family and work as a major obstacle.

For women who are in leadership positions, 27 percent said their path to becoming a leader was more difficult because of their gender. By contrast, only 7 percent of men surveyed cite this as a reason.

When asked about gender bias in their company, 82 percent of men responded that there is none and 7 percent said they weren’t sure. For women, 64 percent said there was no gender bias while 19 percent said they weren’t sure.

Regarding whether an even gender distribution in leadership positions in their workplace is important to them, 59 percent of women responded that it is. By comparison, only 35 percent of men held the same opinion.

"We want to bring attention to this issue," Jagiello said. "Only when there is awareness of the current situation, something can be changed. Some companies have already initiated strategies and actions to address the issue, knowing that something needs to be done to improve equality in the fitness industry. However, as in many other industries, there is still a long way to go."