From business advisor, executive coach to the Founder and CEO of The Women in Fitness Association (WIFA), Lindsey Rainwater is a woman of many hats.

After attending a women-only event on personal branding, she felt inspired and motivated. However, there wasn’t another similar gathering until the following year.

Instead of waiting, Lindsey founded WIFA, the association that would educate, connect and empower women in the fitness industry.

The global not-for-profit organisation facilitates virtual and live events to support its members. It provides information to help promote their professional growth and empower those who feel under-represented in management and executive roles.

Lindsey shares with The CEO Magazine her path to leadership and why collaboration is the key to success.

What inspired you to start WIFA?

The idea of bringing women together to support each other came to me when I was pregnant with my first son.

I will never forget where I was and how I felt while I was attending a women’s event at a conference learning about personal branding. Sitting across the table from other women, hearing different perspectives and feeling the energy in the room was incredibly refreshing.

I loved that event and when I got home, I started looking to see when was the next gathering for women in fitness, and this particular event was not on until next year. I started researching and found out that there was not an association supporting women in fitness. We network at events, but nothing connects us all year long.

WIFA

So I got to work. I built the website, called on a handful of women that saw the mission and believed in it, and we got things running.

I will never forget sitting there with my husband, seven-and-a-half-months pregnant. I was looking down at my phone and said, “Honey, someone from Australia joined. I don’t even know who they are!”

It was great how many members joined that first summer we existed. Fast forward to today and we have more than 500 global members, are represented all over the industry and are providing speaking opportunities, mentorship for hundreds and creating new opportunities every day.

WIFA organises virtual and live events to support its members. All of our meetings include ‘crowd voted’ topics, so we make sure we are talking about what matters most to them.

A few of the topics we discuss include women in leadership, dress and unspoken expectations, group fitness pay, roles inside the club, mothers and careers, and how to negotiate pay.

Why did you want the association to focus on women specifically?

Women experience unique challenges that are personal to us. We have the opportunity to be uniquely helpful to other women in ways men cannot.

For instance, only another mother can relate to a mother about the experience of giving birth. It is invaluable to have another woman to talk to, and when you are attempting to run a business and a home, having a woman to talk to is invaluable.

What motivates you?

I feel called in my life to be in service of others.

When faced with market challenges such as COVID-19, what measures has WIFA taken to ensure its stability?

Outside of applying for the government and SBA-funding opportunities, we are doing our best to bring value to our community. Unfortunately, we are not able to meet in person, but we do get to dial up our online presence.

How do you overcome doubts?

I go deep into my personal development work. I have worked hard to understand myself, and this never stops. But at least I now know enough that when my brain is playing tricks on me, I can call BS, set my intentions and start my day over at any point.

What is the best piece of advice given to you?

Don’t compare your path to someone else’s; judge yourself based on your journey. Also, find a mentor and build a network. These are significant factors that impact success.

Who is your role model?

There are so many women in the fitness industry and business that I admire. And so many of the women in leadership are present on social media that you can have a virtual mentor very easily. The person I have always looked up to is my grandmother.

She and my grandfather started farming amid the great depression and did so well for themselves over their lifetime. In her 80s, she still runs her bookkeeping. I look up to her ability to save and invest and also be such a loving role model for her family.

What does successful leadership mean to you?

Success is different for everyone. What I call success might be someone else’s failure.

It’s essential to get out of the game of comparison. Instead, work on what is in your control and based on what you can accomplish.

What is your overall vision for WIFA?

For every single woman in the fitness industry to have a place that represents her capacity and for us to help women collaborate to accelerate their careers. Together we do more than alone.

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