First Ever Women’s Health and Fitness Summit
——A note from Mish about WHFS14——
Recently I had this Facebook memory pop up to remind me of the very first Women’s Health and Fitness Summit – back in 2014! I decided to create this event because I got sick of our general fitness conferences not catering to me as a Fitness Professional working with women (and let’s face it… very few fitness professionals ONLY work with men!). In 2014, the FILEX timetable gave me less than 5% of sessions to choose from if I was dedicated to working with women.
But FILEX is not on their own. This is how I feel about most of the fitness industry – women are often just square pegs trying to be fitted into round holes. And I like to re-iterate that it does not mean that women can not train like men, but we (undeniably) have different anatomy, hormonal and significant life changes (pregnancy / post natal and menopause) that irrefutably impact on our training and our fitness.
I have also in my nearly 15 years of working in the fitness industry have heard many exercise-induced incontinence and exercise-induced prolapse stories to also prove that we are not serving our female clients appropriately.
When we know better, we do better.
And I believed (and continue to do so) that there are others who also yearned for better education, better training systems, better networks so they could do justice to female clients and their changing needs.
Hand on heart, my only other event experience was organising my kids’ birthday parties! Though to be fair, if you have ever been to one of them… you would have been impressed! I thrive on creativity and attention to detail. I love everyone to feel special and loved.
So driven out of desperation of no alternative, I created the Women’s Health and Fitness Summit.
And so with calling in many favours, and applying the strategies of “Know your tribe. Love them hard” The very first Women’s Health and Fitness Summit happened!
And to honour my Facebook memory, I dug up this blog that I wrote after our first event, which had been lost in new website refurbish! If you were there, then this will bring back memories. If you have been since, then it will help you understand that this event is alive with passion and continues to grow, because people just like yourself are demanding more.
And I love that since this blog we have empowered 8 women to kick arse in this arena and with another 4 this year via The Platform.
Creating The Platform would have to be one of my career highlights.
Enjoy (and please don’t skip the vid’s),
On a chilly Sunday in August, mishfit hosted the very first Women’s Health and Fitness Summit… EVER!
I want to share with you some of the memories of the day… and if any of this resonates with you, please see the end of this blog as to how you can be involved with our future Women’s Health and Fitness Summit events.
So what is with the rosemary?
The summit was a full day especially with the magnificent speakers that we had. When we anchor memories with smell, they are a lot more powerful and long lasting!
So the day before the summit, I went to my friends’ beautiful garden and gave her rosemary hedge a very big trim! I encouraged the delegates to smell the rosemary when they wanted to anchor in learnings from the day.
Our first speaker of the day was the magnificent Taryn Brumfitt from Body Image Movement – her personal story delivered with humour and passion, was perfect in setting the scene for the rest of the day. I have long lamented that the fitness industry is not exempt from selling lies. We photo-shop fitness models and tell people that they too can get this look if they shred, lift, work out. But in reality we will always fall short of these unobtainable images. And in doing so, re-enforcing that we are not enough, that we are failures and that our life is less.
Taryn shone a very big spotlight on this paradox.
While Taryn was presenting the audience was filled with women laughing, women crying and all of them were nodding their heads at this powerful message. Everyone is excited about Taryn’s documentary that she crowd sourced – raising over $331k in a short time… She is nothing short of amazing on so many levels! Please continue to follow Taryn’s journey here.
Lisa Westlake is another amazing woman.
Lisa has written many, many books on exercise, pregnancy and of course swiss ball. Her topic was on menopause and Lisa had the audience pretending that they were phoning in to her via her regular appearance on Hillary Harpers ABC radio show on Sunday mornings. Lisa made menopause a little less daunting and reminded us that it is not just hot sweats, it can also represent a time in a woman’s life when she has a new found independence from family and work.
She finished her session with a beautiful guided meditation…
Then I had an opprtunity to share my vision of why… Why should we have a Women’s Health and Fitness Summit?
Simon Sinek says we need to be clear on our why.
and if you have not watched his very very powerful TED talk… here it is
The WHY I created the Women’s Health and Fitness Summit is that I believe we need to challenge the status quo… women have different training needs within their monthly cycles and also within the cycles of their lives. I know that how I trained when I was in my 20’s was different to how I trained while I was pregnant and different again to my postnatal period. And it is changing again as I go into the Peri-menopausal phase of my life. Yet, the fitness industry often pedals a one size fits all approach. Most of our main stream fitness options were designed for men and often do not adequately cater to our changing life needs.
We need to stand up and proclaim that we are not a niche market!
I believe this starts with getting more women presenting about women’s health
Currently we are drastically under represented at our fitness summits, conferences and conventions – both in management and in practical and educational workshops. If women are not presenting, then women’s health issues are not being represented. I personally know how difficult it is to get in to present at events like FILEX. They want presenters with experience, but it’s tough to get a foot in the door. And often women are the first to say (to themselves, or others) “I don’t know enough” or ” there is someone more knowledgeable than me” or “I wont do a good enough job”.
These limiting self beliefs restrict us all.
This is why I believe that our Women’s Health and Fitness Summit needs to include stepping stones and opportunities for women to present. That is why I propose that our summit in 2015 has 6 TED type opportunities – giving new presenters the opportunity to share their message. This is to be called The Platform.
Lauretta Stace – Women and Leadership
Lauretta Stace (CEO of Fitness Australia) is very much a leader in our industry and although she could not make it to our summit; she has been a big supporter of this event from inception. Lauretta created this video about leadership styles and why it is so important for women to Lean In and be involved in management. If we do not have women in leadership positions and on boards, then again women’s issues will not be addressed.
This video is about 15 mins, so you may want to make yourself a cup to tea and settle in… but I highly recommend that you don’t skip it !
300 Hand Made Power Balls!
At the summit I was aware of tummies that could be rumbling during Lauretta’s video, so in advance I hand made over 300 of my Power Balls!
and team mishfit were there to hand them out…
They went down a treat!
Lunch was an opportunity to network with others, to write feedback, to share everyone’s ideas on how this could move forward… and lunch was BUZZING with women networking!
After our lunch, I got the opportunity to thank our sponsors – Menofitness and the Continence Foundation of Australia… another company had wanted to sponsor our event. However, I feel that this particular company goes against what we are trying to achieve with educating women about pelvic floor health and a little while before the summit, we at mishfit decided to make a little parody on a TV commercial that may well be familiar to you!
Jen Dugard from Body Beyond Baby and Tough Mums shared her message, so passionately that it resonated deeply with the audience. Jen believes that if you are a personal trainer working with women – then you must align yourself with a Women’s Health Phsyiotherapist, because when training women we simply do not know what is happening on the inside for them. And often, many women do not accurately know if they are contracting correctly their pelvic floor.
Jen works with mums and makes them tough mums
Jen showed us case studies of women going from postnatal to competing in Tough Mudder. Not only is this inspirational work, but it clearly shows the difference we can make to women when we work collaboratively. At mishfit we also have evidence that working with Women’s Health Physio’s benefits both our business and our client’s recovery, post birth.
I believe that the Women’s Health and Fitness Summit is of value to Women’s Health professionals and to other allied Health Professionals and should be expanded to incorporate them and encourage a collective, holistic approach to women’s health.
Marietta is no stranger to the stage. She has a long history of presenting around the world. Marietta spoke on behalf of Pelvic Floor First – an initiative by Continence Foundation of Australia which aims to educate fitness professionals about plevic floor considerations with female clients. A dry subject perhaps, pardon the pun… but not so as Marietta kept everyone engaged with her wit and enthusiasm.
Marietta told me and the rest of the audience that she believed that the Women’s Health and Fitness Summit would be something much more than what we say today… you can be a part of the event by watching this very short video…
… wouldn’t it be nice…
These events could not possibly run without the behind the scenes work of a team. Our very own mishfit team did a sterling job to ensure that it was a very stress free event. They did this effortless and with good grace… of which I was both very proud and very very grateful!
Of course, we always have room for a little bit of silliness…
And in the end, I was not the only one who did not want this day to end. In fact someone told me, the mark of a good event, is that people do not want to go home.
And another woman hugged me and thanked me and said, “we have found our tribe”
The last gift of the day, were a small packet of seeds from one super sunflower that grew in my garden last summer.
I believe that as women, we do things differently. I also know that we are diverse. This event has never been run before so we have a blank canvas that we can create how we want. We are not bound by the conventions of others.
Lets celebrate this.
Lets create an event that continues to reflect our diversity and lets do it our way!
But what was made very clear by the responses of women from around the world, within the greater fitness industry and from the attendees, was that this event must exist!
———Update from Mish——–
And now we are just weeks off the 4th Women’s Health and Fitness Summit. Every year I pride myself on finding new ways to surprise and delight the audience. This gives delegates an opportunity to connect with each other and create relationships that will benefit them personally and professionally (and not to mention the women who we all serve).
Re-designing the landscape of women’s health and fitness in Australia
This year, we have an Opening Panel instead of a key note. And that is because this event is locked in, it is real. It is here. So what do we do with all the big thought leaders and women’s health and fitness activists gathered in one place? We move forward together.
Marietta Mehanni will be chairing the Panel of diversity and will be encouraging you to get involved with your questions and your suggestions about how can we make lasting changes for women’s health and fitness in Australia and New Zealand? How can we become a model for other countries to look upon and follow suit?
Your ideas and your thoughts and questions count!
If you would like submit your thoughts for discussion or ask a question to our panel, please get in touch with me here.
But whatever you do… don’t miss out on the magic and the experience of the 4th Women’s Health and Fitness Summit – October 28 & 29th at the beautiful Grand Hyatt, Melbourne.
Why not read some other blogs about the Women’s Health and Fitness Summit?
I am ridiculously excited for Jessica Drummond and her first trip to Australia! If you have not heard of Jessica and her work.. you absolutely must … just click below:
Here is an amazing interview with Robin Kerr:
Who will be co-presenting with Antony Lo – find out more about Antony here:
The growing of the WHFS has not all been smooth sailing … in fact it nearly cost me our family home… learn all about that story here:
Kylianne Farrell is a Platform success story… She presented with 3 others on the first Platform Stage at the WHFS15 and has gone on to present at FILEX and at WHFS16… learn more about Kylianne here: